By Francis Ekpone & O’star Eze
A seventy year old Chief Anthony Okongwu, has been reportedly killed in a renewed communal clash between Ikenga village, Ogidi; and Umusiome village, Nkpor; both in Idemili North local government area of Anambra state.
His corpse, Orient Daily learnt, has since been deposited at an undisclosed morgue.
Another septuagenarian, Chukwudi Okeke, and two others, whose identities are yet to be verified, were heavily injured during the clash over a disputed land. The injured are presently receiving treatment in an undisclosed hospital.
Briefing journalists in Awka, Anambra state capital, the National President of Ikenga Ogidi Family Union (IOFU), Hon. Amechi Akume, claimed that a cartel of land speculators and trespassers were involved in the killing and maiming which took place at Ani-Owelle on June 1, 2019.
Akume, who addressed newsmen in the company of the union’s National Secretary, Chief Chime Amanwa, noted that the protracted land dispute has since been resolved, based on the judgment of the Supreme Court delivered in favour of Ogidi community on 21st March, 1997, in Suit No. SC/71/1996.
According to him, the state government, which demarcated the boundary of the disputed land through the boundary committee headed by the deputy governor, Dr. Nkem Okeke, issued a Gazette No. 7/Vol.7 of the 31st day of July 1997.
He posited also that the judgment of the highest court followed Court of Appeal judgment with suit No. CA/E//20M/95, delivered on the 15th day of April, 1996.
While accusing the trespassers of forming a clandestine group and operating on its platform, he faulted the recourse to another legal option by Nkpor side, while the Supreme Court judgment was still subsisting.
According to him, “Ikenga Ogidi people had protracted land dispute with Umusiome people of Nkpor, which was latter resolved at the Supreme Court where we had a judgment in our favour; and based on that judgment delivered in 1997, the boundary dispute between Ikega Ogidi and Umusiome Nkpor was laid to rest. Boundary monument was also put in place, which was later destroyed by Umusiome people.
“We reported the issue to the boundary committee and the monuments were re-established in 2016, but since then, Umusiome people have continued to disobey the court order by trespassing into the Ikenga Ogidi session of the land, selling and putting up structures there. We reported this matter to the police and they issued a statement that each of the communities should obey the Supreme Court judgment by remaining in their own side of the land; but unfortunately, they continued to come into the Ikenga side of the land. On June 1, Ikenga people went to see their property but Nkpor people attacked them and killed one of our kinsmen and injured three others,” he narrated.
Hon Akume, however, called on the government and police authorities to effectively enforce the Supreme Court order, instead of directing both contending parties to stay away from the disputed land.
“We are begging relevant agencies, especially the police, to enforce the Supreme Court judgment by restricting both communities to their own side of the land. The boundaries are clear. We also appeal to our youths not to take laws into their hands by embarking on reprisal attack. We rely on the relevant agencies, hoping that they will be fair in handling this matter,” he noted.
When contacted, the chairman, Umusiome Village, Nkpor, Mr. Pius Obiogbolu, while insisting that his group was not challenging the Supreme Court judgment, faulted the Anambra state government Gazette as requiring review and the judgment reversed.
He enjoined the state government to implement the recommendations made by those they invited to look into the land dispute, while recalling that the two communities have been in land dispute for many years now.
On his part, the chairman of Umusiome Landlords Association (ULA), Mr. Daniel Alaneme, debunked the allegation that the association is sponsoring Umusiome village in the crisis, stating that the landlords bear no grudge against the people of Ikenga Ogidi; adding that they were not there when the land dispute began.
The Anambra state Police Public Relations Officer, SP Mohammed Haruna, who confirmed the crisis between the two communities, said that the investigation into the matter is still ongoing to determine the facts concerning the killing of the seventy-year-old man, Chief Okongwu.