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#1 » by Jude1458 VIP (β20862) » June 28th, 2020, 6:04 am
Once upon a time, Edda community in the Afikpo South Local Government Area of Ebonyi State was known for peace and unity.
The Nde Edda people settled differences between neighbours or compounds (Ezi), at the village square, after the elders’ (Nde Ishina) intervention at the sacred house (Obi). Neighbouring clans such as Ohafia, Abiriba, Ehugbo, Abam, Okposi, among others, envied Edda for its peaceful lifestyle.
But all that now appeared to be in the past as incessant conflicts in the community have led to loss of lives and destruction of property. Some villagers were said to have fled Edda, owing to seeming intermittent conflicts in the town.
A 54-year-old trader, Mrs Nnenna Ogbonnaya, from Ekoli Edda community looked worried as she spoke with our correspondent.
Describing her experience a few years ago in the area as worst, she alleged that her shop, good and property were burnt down by supporters of politicians.
She said she lost all she laboured for in 2011, noting that her son was currently paralysed because of a severe injury he sustained during the crisis.
She said, “I ran away from the village eight years ago. On November 30, 2011, I had problem with some people working for a former council chairman in the area. They burnt my shop and everything inside it.
“His supporters popularly known as Morekanbedone came to my shop and attacked my customers. This made my customers to leave. Later that day, at about 8pm to be premise, those boys returned to my shop again, destroyed it and brought out the drinks and other goods in the shop and set them on fire.
“Thereafter, I remained idle. A week later, my son who went to Owutu Edda was returning to Ekoli Edda on his motorcycle. Those boys (Morekanbedone)
rushed at him with their motorcycles and broke his leg. My son is still on sickbed. Since 2011, we took him to many places and hospitals to no avail. That is the story of my life now.
“I can say I’m on exile because I ran away from the village to Abakaliki in 2011. The same business I was doing is what I started in Abakaliki after some well-meaning individuals helped me. That incident shattered my life. I lost my mother after two weeks of the incident, because she developed high blood pressure and since then, my son has been unwell. He is still not fine. Aside this, my shop and the goods in it were destroyed, and the amount so far spent in treating my son is up to N3m.
“The place used to be peaceful; but the case is different now since few years back. There is no peace in the land and this is really affecting the people. Government should look into my plight because my son is still sick.”
Another native of the area, Mr Daniel Ogbu, described the current situation as horrible.
Ogbu, who is a cleric, told our correspondent that he could not visit his hometown of Ekoli Edda during the day for fear of being attacked, alleging that his shop and goods were set ablaze by the Morekanbedone group on February 27, 2011.
He said since his elder brother was killed, life had been meaningless to him.
“I am a 40-year-old man from Ekoli Edda community. I currently pastor a church at Amoso-Owutu Edda. I had a terrible experience on February 27, 2011, because my shop was burnt down. That day, a councillor and a member of Morekanbedone and others set my shop on fire. My offence, I think was because I refused to join the group.
“Since then, life has lost its meaning to me. I have been struggling to make ends meet. I have been in serious suffering. Next month will make it seven years when the same people killed my elder brother. Government should look into the situation and bring those causing trouble in the land to book. My shop was well-stocked and many people used to patronise me.”
The people of Edda clan, also known as the Edda Egbebu, are a sub-group of the Igbo people in the South-East. The land and people of Edda have been constitutionally designated to the present-day Afikpo South Local Government Area of the state.
The Edda clan has about 11 autonomous communities, comprising Nguzu Edda, Ekoli Edda, Ebunwana Edda, Owutu Edda, Etiti Edda, Amangwu Edda, Oso Edda, Idima Edda, Umunna Edda, among others.
Edda in the throes of conflicts
A 61-old-year farmer and mother, Mrs Helen Orji, alleged that her son was killed because her family supported a governorship candidate during the 2019 general elections. She identified politics as one of causes of violence in the community.
Orji said, “I am from Ekoli Edda community. I am not happy with the situation in Edda land currently and none should be. The reason is that what goes on currently in the land was not what we used to see there. We had great people who played politics there and the current situation was never how they played it in the past.
“My son, the late Nnachi Orji, was a victim of the current political situation in Afikpo South. It started on a Thursday in July 2019. The youths of Ekoli Edda community were doing communal work and my son arrived in the village on Wednesday for something urgent. The following day, being Thursday, he took his credentials and said he was returning to Abakaliki, where he came from the previous day. On getting to Ekoli Edda roundabout, the boys mostly members of Morekanbedone stopped him, attacked him and said he would not return to the city (Abakaliki). They dragged him from the roundabout to our house and as they dragged him, he told them he always participated in every communal activity embarked upon by youths in the area.
“In front of my house, they threatened to kill him. One of the boys said they would continue to deal with him and his family members because he was supporting a particular political party. I told them that the law allows everyone to freely belong to any political party of their choice.”
“On August 24, 2019, his younger brother was having a traditional wedding. According to the youth, whenever anyone wants to do any ceremony, he must pay certain agreed sum. And because of this, my son’s younger brother on the eve of the wedding met with the youth leadership in the community and paid the money.
“But to our greatest surprise, the following day, the Morekanbedone boys went to the venue of the wedding and destroyed everything, including the mounted canopies. Ikechukwu, the host, on hearing what happened, met the youth and demanded to know the reason for their action after the payment of N10, 000.”
Also speaking, the Owutu Edda Town Union President, Chief Osita Ufere, described the situation in the area as unfortunate, saying the current political situation was a departure from what the real political culture of Eddans used to be.
Lamenting about the spate of insecurity in the land and its attendant results, Ufere claimed the imposition of candidates during elections was another reason for violence in the area.
Ufere said, “The situation in Edda currently is unfortunate, unacceptable and condemnable. However, the good thing about all what is happenings is that they are avoidable and preventable. It is bad.
“Two persons were killed in Owutu Edda community between May 3 and 6, 2020. I’m talking about Owutu Edda alone, not the entire Afikpo South LGA. A man and a lady sustained bullet injuries during the recent councillorship primaries of a political party in the community. All these things are linked to fight for political supremacy in Edda.
“In 2018, Owutu Edda community wrote a petition to Governor David Umahi about the situation in the land. It is with heavy heart I say that the ugly incident resurfaced and lives were lost.’’
He added that the government had not intervened in the crises, urging it to urgency ban cult activities in the area.
Four killed between March and May 2020
Between March 27 and May 6, 2020, four persons lost their lives to the crises that erupted in the area at the time.
Our correspondent gathered that a 19-year-old boy, Chidi Orji, from Nguzu Edda community was murdered on March 27, 2020.
It was alleged that the teenager was killed by a team enforcing lockdown order in the area.
Saturday PUNCH gathered that two persons, Onu Chima and Raphael Okereke, lost their lives to another crisis in Owutu Edda, between May 3 and 6, 2020. It was learnt that while Chima was shot dead on May 3, Okereke was killed during reprisal on May 6. Some weeks later, one of those who sustained severe injuries during the conflicts also died.
Speaking to our correspondent, the late Orji’s mother, Mrs Nnenna Orji, claimed that her son was killed by Morekanbedone supporters from Ekoli Edda.
She stated, “It was in the evening. My son did nothing to them, but they killed him and later said he was a thief. The boy was my first strength as a mother being my first child.
“Those boys came from Ekoli Edda community and said they were taskforce team and came to Nguzu Edda to enforce the COVID-19 lockdown order in the area. All of a sudden, they started shooting and in the evening of that day, they killed Chidi. My hope is gone. Although Chidi was not working then, he would have started taking care of me and his younger ones anytime soon. But they have killed him.
“I am asking government to intervene in the matter. I am seeking justice for my son. He was not a chicken for them to kill him like they did. He was a human being. It is worrisome that since his death, nobody has been arrested. I am a farmer and Chidi was the one helping me in farming work. There’s nobody to assist me again.
“Even though they said Morekanbedone members believe they can’t be arrested and even when arrested, they would be released, government should do something if it is sincere in resolving the matter. It will deter others from engaging in such act. What we currently see in the land is different from what we used to know there. The land is now prone to crisis unlike before.”
Group petitions IG for peace to reign
Following the situation in the community, a group known as Edda Intervention and Rescue Initiative, on May 14, 2020, petitioned the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Muhammed Adamu, urging him to intervene in the matter by bringing all those culpable to book.
The petition, signed by a former Commissioner for Information and Orientation in state, Chief Abia Onyike and Prince Imo Ndukwe-Ugwuocha Obasi, among other things, called for the ban of the
Morekanbedone group in the community.
Saying hope of dwellers in the community was hinged on the intervention of the IG into the matter, the group noted that it had lost confidence in the state government’s several announcements to resolve the conflicts.
Onyike, who is also the spokesperson for Alaigbo Development Foundation, told Saturday PUNCH that the crises in Edda were traceable to 2007 when the immediate past Chairman, Afikpo South LGA, Eni-Uduma Chima, came into politics and was a member of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly where he spent eight years and later became council chairman.
He stated, “The Inspector-General of Police should investigate the allegations we raised in our petition and ensure the prosecution of those responsible for the act.
“The boys have killed more than 30 persons from 2007 to 2020. Edda clan (Afikpo South) became a local government in 1991. It was the oldest county council in the old Afikpo division and ought to have become a local government in 1970 when the Dasuki panel brought a report about it. But it couldn’t because of what officials said about corruption in council administration. It eventually became a local government in 1991.”
Also speaking, another resident identified only as Obasi said life in the community had become frightening due to what he termed ‘clandestine activities of Morekanbedone.”
Obasi said the ugly trend affected all facets of the people’s life, stressing that there was an urgent need for government to intervene.
He further accused Chima and those he described as his ‘boys’ of being behind the crises in the community.
Obasi added, “Though there are killings and destructions of property in the entire Edda area, conflicts are more in the Nguzi Edda and Ekoli Edda communities.
“I can remember vividly two women from Ekoli Edda who had gone into exile in Abakaliki, with their family members. Their shops were destroyed by the
Morekanbedone boys. On a large expanse of land where the people of Nguzu Edda cultivated yams, cassava and other crops, their farmlands were forcefully taken away from them.
“In March 27, this year, a young man was killed in Nguzu Edda community. The killers came from Ekoli Edda community and said they were in Nguzu Edda to enforce the COVID-19 lockdown order.
“The situation in Edda currently affects the people. Everybody, except highly placed individuals, live in fear. If there is no peace in a particular place, people won’t go about their normal business. It affects our people economically, psychologically and socially. Our people can no longer move freely. I am a farmer for instance and if there is crisis there, I can’t go to farm for fear of being killed or attacked. It is as bad as that. People live in fear.
‘‘The government has always looked the other way. If people commit a crime, they should be brought to justice. That’s what we are saying. None should be treated as if they are above the law.”
Government has solution to conflicts –Monarchs
The traditional ruler of Umunna Autonomous community, Dickson Obo and his counterpart in Nguzu Edda Autonomous community, Ugwuocha Obasi (Eze Edda, XXV), said the solution to ending crises in the community was with the government.
They noted that the youth in the community no longer obeyed traditional institution; a development which they noted exposed the area to diverse evils.
Obo said, “The crises in Edda are regrettable and unfortunate. A lot has happened, but we are relying on the outcome of the findings of the Edda People’s Assembly. It’s is a fact-finding committee set up by Edda people to look into the things going on in the community. The committee is still working and we are waiting for its report. Even as traditional rulers, we are bothered about what is happening in our land. But the Assembly will definitely guide us into what action to take after its findings.
“We are aware of the activities of some people using different groups to champion their activities. Apart from Morekanbedone, there is Edda Unity Forum among others.”
On his part, Ugwuocha said current happenings in the community differed from what they knew about the area.
He added, “What we are witnessing in the community now is the opposite of what we used to see there. Many of those causing mayhem in Edda came from the cities.
“Today, we have 11 autonomous communities in Edda. This has come with several social vices. Our people, especially the youth, are no longer obedient to traditional institution. Our age-grade system, which should be serving as a ‘traditional police,’ system is now weak. Many of the crises stemmed from political struggle by politicians. For instance, the last crisis that claimed the life of an innocent boy in Nguzu Edda was caused by politics. I was at home that day. They shot the boy dead and alleged that he was a thief.”
Ugwuocha regretted that the idyllic nature of the community had been ruptured, adding that there was division in the land.
He said, “People now live in fear and this hinders progress and prosperity in the land. The traditional rulers of Edda have not met over this. I must be sincere with you. There’s no place in Edda that doesn’t witness conflicts. In Edda, four persons were killed between March and May this year.
“Government should step into the matter and do what is necessary. Good enough, the state government is currently recruiting for community policing. This is a good development. Traditional rulers in communities should screen, vet and recommend those to be recruited because it’s about security.’’
I’m innocent of allegations, says ex-council chair
In a telephone interview with our correspondent, Chima absolved himself of the allegations that he and his ‘boys’ were responsible for the crises in the community.
Chima stated that Morekanbedone was a mere expression of his political philosophy and not a group used to foment trouble in the community as alleged.
He added that he was not immune to investigations and arrest, saying he was ready for probe by the IG.
Chima said, “I am an indigene of Ekoli Edda community, Afikpo South Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
‘‘First, let me state it on record that Edda clan has the lowest crime rate in the entire Ebonyi State. Each time crisis occurs, some people tend to exaggerate things and give them wide publicity to achieve political aims.
“Morekanbedone is a credo; it is an expression of a political philosophy, that with God all things are possible, that given more political leadership many things can be done by the leader for the people. I started it in 2007 upon entry into partisan politics and when I was given the opportunity, I excelled and it is on record.
“When I was reelected to the state assembly, I said having been given an opportunity for the second time, it means more can be done for our people. More achievements, good things and social amenities and I was given the second opportunity because of the mass followership I enjoyed.
“This campaign slogan and credo, ‘Can Be Done’ or ‘ Morekandone ’ became associated with me hence my teeming supporters became to be known as
Morekanbedone. That was how the philosophy was derived.
“It’s vexatious and frivolous to petition the DSS, Nigeria Police, Immigration, Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, the National Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International and other national and transnational groups and bodies about Morekanbedone.
“They mentioned that political killings in the clan are done by Morekanbedone; my supporters. There are no specific allegations. What they did was a universal generalisation when what is required is to substantiate. They only wrote a long wishy-washy few letter and expressed frustration.
“For the avoidance of doubt, all the killings mentioned, like I reacted in the past, have nothing to do with me or my supporters who believe in the philosophy of, ‘Can Be Done’ or ‘ Morekandone .’ And Onyike should not be taken seriously except of course by people who don’t know him.’’
He said crime had been happening in Edda since 1983 and not in 2007 as claimed.
Chima added, “I don’t know why they wrote a petition about 2007. What gives the impression that the investigation of crime is limited to between 2007 and 2020 only? What I will add is that at various times some of those allegations have been made over and over again and were investigated by police authorities over and over again. I have been invited by the police for any shop burnt in Ekoli Edda, or in any part of Edda and I’m not aware that any shop was burnt. I am ready to honour any invitation from security agencies any time because I have confidence in the law enforcement agencies, especially the Nigeria Police.’’
We aren’t paying lip service to crises –Government
The state government has said it’s not paying lip service to the crises in the town, adding that those with such view were merely expressing individual opinions.
The state Commissioner for Internal Security and Border Peace, Chief Stanley Emegha, noted during an interview with Saturday PUNCH that the state government was not folding its arms over the crises in the land.
Emegha said the government’s primary role at this time and always was the protection of lives and property of the citizens.
The commissioner, who is also from Edda, stated that the resolution and management of outcomes of such incidents across the state revolved around his office, stressing that he knew better what government was doing to the quell crises.
Emegha said, “Everybody should know that the resolution of the crises happening in Edda falls on my office. The office is responsible for the management of such crises and from time, we do know that they occur. They don’t only occur in Edda but also in other parts of the state.
Government has fully resolved to make sure that the intermittent crises in the area are finally nipped in the bud.
“In the first place, the group called Edda Intervention and Rescue Initiative is obscure. If others know them, I don’t know them. It could be a single person that is answering such name and as such, the allegations could be individual opinion. Yes, the group’s move to petition the IG over the crises in Edda could be a personal decision. I am strongly against that.
“The government of Ebonyi State is not folding its hands on the matter. The government is poised to bring a lasting solution to them. Government is doing everything within its power to address the issues finally. The traditional rulers in Edda clan, alongside the town union presidents, including all political office holders have met over the matter. The meeting was held in my office. At the end of the meeting, they set up a fact-finding committee, called Edda People’s Assembly. One of the tasks before the committee is to ascertain the remote and immediate causes of the crises.”
Stressing that the government of Umahi didn’t condone evil, the commissioner stated that soon, those sponsoring the crises in the area, would be made to face the full wrath of the law.
He added, “I can tell you that there are people already in police custody because of the incidents. Some are already in prison. We have gone as far as finding out those sponsoring crimes in the area. We are investigating them. It’s one thing to allege and it’s another thing for authorities to investigate it. If the IG has got the petition and decided to investigate the allegations raised in the petition, we will support him to do his work. All we want is for peace to reign in our land.”
We arrested some suspects, say police
The state police command said it once arrested Chima and a member of the state assembly representing Afikpo South (East), Mr Chidi Ejem, over their alleged involvement in the recent crises in the area. It was gathered that the two men were not politically aligned.
The spokesperson for the command, DSP Loveth Odah, told our correspondent that the two duo were arrested alongside others, who allegedly took part in the crises.
Odah said, “We did not relent on the matter. The former Afikpo South Local Government Area Chairman, Mr Eni-Uduma Chima was arrested and a member of the state assembly, Mr Chidi Ejem.
“We equally arrested some of their boys. But then, during interrogation, the two men said although the boys were their boys, they didn’t ask them to commit any crime. And so both of them were released then and we charged the boys to court. They are still in detention.
“One of the boys even confessed to have committed the crime. He told us that his brother was killed by the brother of the person he shot dead.”
The police further stated that they had dispatched men to the area to ensure peace.
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#2 » by Jude1458 VIP (β20862) » June 28th, 2020, 6:05 am
Is this home video production


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