A RE-INVITATION FOR PEACEFUL CO-EXISTENCE
By Sunny Ikechukwu Chukwu
First, let me make it abundantly clear that I am neither of Effium nor Ezza. I am not even from Ebonyi North at all. I am just a concerned citizen, a private investigator and a merchant of truth. And I do not write to lay blame on anyone. No. Far from it. I am only worried that given the shortness of human memory, if the truth is not told, society may miss the joicy lessons from this bitter crisis and most dangerously, repeat same mistake. My concern is simply to let the world see the clear picture in this matter to enable us arm ourselves against future re-occurence.
I have read from various social media platforms, the various versions to the Effium community crisis. Initially, I was uninterested but ultimately the urge to save the truth and save Society prevailed. However I restrained myself still from any public comment until after 4 good days of solid discreet inquiry. And below is the result
THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND/ANTECEDENT BETWEEN EFFIUM AND EZZA PEOPLE
It is taken for granted that years ago, Ezza people, a warrior-clan were invited by Effium people to assist them to fight off their foes in exchange for a share in the land. After the war, both lived together for a long time. History has it that their ancestors lived peacefully for quite a long time without any issues. Trouble started some 30 years ago with the new generation who appears to be ignorant of the deep relationship between their ancestors which was deeply rooted in a traditional covenant
The first recent case of hostility was in 1998 when many were killed over Traditional Rulership Tussle. Second was in 2002, four years later over INEC Voters registration exercise. There was a relatively mild situation in 2016 when some Community Forest Relations Committee members accidentally killed someone in the Effium Forest Reserve. Under normal circumstances, all these crises are avoidable. Unfortunately behind all these cases is deep-rooted inter-tribal hatred and mutual suspicion. This is the remote cause of the present crisis in Effium Community
IMMEDIATE CAUSE OF THE PRESENT CRISIS IN EFFIUM
EZZA YOUTH PRESIDENCY, NATIONAL UNION OF ROAD TRANSPORT WORKERS (NURTW), NKWOR MOTORS AND THE ROLE OF POLITICIANS
Above sub heading summarizes the key factors in the present crisis situation. In examining this dimension I will refrain from making personal references to individual names of the political actors but will stick to official designation. This is because, as I mentioned in the beginning, I am not interested in the issues over there except that truth ought to be told to save the community from repeting same mistake in the future. Besides, I do not know any of these characters personally apart from occasionally stumbling on their names mostly on the social media space
First, my investigation reveals that the first sign of trouble started when the Honourable member representating Ohaukwu North State Constituency unilaterally announced the removal of the incumbent Ezza Youth President, one Monday Nwankwo and replaced him with another of his boy Osondu Mgbada. He didn’t stop there. We unveiled that the ‘new president’ announced his arrival by launching brutal attacks on all his opponents beginning from the said Nwankwo Monday who was beaten to coma to one Uchenna Abraham who was shot on the arm and finally to another Monday Onele who was shot in he waist. The latter is still bedridden at FETHA 2 Abakaliki as at the time of filing this report. All the above victims are of Ezza origin. Their assailants were also of Ezza origin and all the cases happened around October 2020, 4 months ago. Reports were made and the matter even got to Abuja Police Headquarters but nothing came out of the investigation. Report has it that the Honourable man used his position to influence things which was not out of place in a typical Nigerian setting anyways. Then normalcy returned, albeit temporarily.
Then around November 2020, bouyed by the failure in the previous investigations, Mr. Osondu Mgbada now upped his game by invading the National Union office at Effium Motor park and drove away the members of the Union and took over the place. Report has it that the revenue generated from the Union has always been their original target from the word go. Again, our investigation revealed the Honourable gave his full backing to this act.
Godwin Nwankwo alias Nkwo Motors
Recall that Nigeria experienced a national security challenge in the form of ENDSARS Nationwide protest during the last quarter of 2020. Every Local government made local arrangements to contain this menace. In Ohaukwu, the Chairman put in place what they called Special Monitoring Team which was headed by one Nwankwo Godwin also called Nkwo Motors. We unveiled that on receiving the report of the crises in National Union office which was happening side by side ENDSARS, the Local government Chairman directed the Chairman of the Monitoring Team to intervene and manage the office of the National Union and ensure peace and stability therein until normalcy returns. This special assignment was to last for a maximum of 2 months ending by December 31st, 2020. Eventually, normalcy returned back to the Park whereupon the Chairman on the request of the Union members, again directed Mr. Nkwor motors to step aside so the National Union members will resume their operations. However instead of Mr. Nwankwo to heed this directive, he ran to the Honourable who urged him to stay put. We discovered on further investigation that the Chairman on issuing his final directive to Nkwo went ahead to mandate the State Chairman of NURTW to take charge and organize his members in line with their Constitution. We learnt again that the State Chairman of the Union did his best to reach out to appropriate offices at the state level but he was eventually coerced to submission when the Honourable man called him to threaten that Mr. Nkwo Motors must remain Effium National Union Chairman by all means. This was the Genesis of trouble. Less than a month later, precisely on Friday the 22nd day of January, 2021, this same Nkwo Motors launched a matchet attack on another member of the Union, one Paul Elom who is the elected secretary of the Union in Effium. Note that while Mr. Nkwo motors is of Ezza tribe, Mr. Paul Elom is of the Effium tribe. The relations of Mr. Paul Elom who could not bear the sight of their severely injured uncle, went on rampage in retaliation. Other youths from both Ezza and Effium speaking divides joined the fray and lo and behold, the whole Effium Community caught fire. The result is what we have today.
In the course of our enquiry, we stumbled on a petition sponsored by the Honourable member against his friend the Local government Chairman. (Curiously, we learnt the two are friends and only disagreed during the House of Assembly Primary Election but also reconciled subsequently before the general election. Also curiously, that the Chairman actually gave the Honourable the highest vote from his Effium ward 1 during the general election). We learnt that the Honourable and most of the signatories boycotted a meeting called by the NPC officials to address the allegations and that the petition was subsequently dismissed for want of merit. Mention was not made of the paper again following the said meeting which held at the palace of the late Effium Traditional Ruler
A QUICK ANALYSI OF THE SITUATION
First let me say again, this article is merely a journey in search of the truth. I do not intend to lay blames on anyone but I will be grateful if by this my little contribution, a future crisis is averted.
Effium has been having this cycle of crises many decades ago but none was as deadly as this one. Let me add that while talking to some of the Community people who ran to Abakaliki to take cover in one of the IDP camps, things went out of control since the election of their son as Honourable member of the House of Assembly. That Effium and Ezza people have always suspected each other but they have always managed to carry on. Even when they fought occasionally it has never been this bitter. I couldn’t help shedding tears when the woman broke down in sobs of melancholy
This crises would not have happened if Osondu Mgbada and co did not force themselves into the Union office especially when they are not members
The stakeholders of Effium neglected their primary responsibility in curtailing the crises when it was festering afresh. It was good to have arrested them. That will wake them up from their sleep.
SUGGESTIONS ON WAY FORWARD
My candid suggestions are as follows
Effium and Ezza stakeholders should immediately begin an orientation campaign to enlighten their people on the need to live together as one. From my enquiry, Ezza and Effium people have lived together for over a century now and can continue to so live if only they can remove their veil of distrust and suspicion
Government should draw the line for all her officials to avoid excesses. I was moved to look up some pages of the Constitution only to find that issues of markets and motor parks are under the management and control of the Local government Councils. Elected House of Assembly members have no portfolio in the motor parks. I suggest that government should organize workshops for their elected and appointed officials to educate them on the extent and limits of their official duties. If these things were properly explained to the political actors in Effium, this crises may have been averted
Government should discourage politicians from the use of force otherwise called self help in the pursuit of their interests. Obviously, if the office of the Ezza Youth President and subsequently National Union was not taken by force initially, this crises would not have happened.
Government is advised to always take swift action to nip these things in the bud. Wherever this trend like the Effium case is crawling in, decisive action, not just political action should be taken.
While we commend His Excellency the Governor and security agents for a job weldone, for we understand peace has returned, we urge Effium stakeholders to sit up and save their people from a future re-occurence
Let There be Peace!!!
Sunny Ikechukwu Chukwu,
Public Affairs Analyst Private and Investigator