By Ann Oginyi, Abakaliki
Since January 22nd, 2021, when what has today grown to a full blown war between Effium and Ezza-Effium people of Effium Community in Ebonyi State began, a lot of intrigues and game plots amidst controversies have characterized the processes involved in executing the debacle as well as its resolution.
Generally, the current pogrom in Effium Community has become a worrisome situation not only to those whose relations are killed on daily basis in the area, the displaced persons, but Ebonyi State government which has made and still making efforts towards ending the impasse.
To begin with, the intrigues, game plots and controversies currently surrounding the ongoing massacre in Effium Community raises a number of questions which need to be addressed by not only the executive chairman of Ohaukwu Local Government Council, Mr. Clement Odah, but the Ebonyi State government under the leadership of Chief David Umahi and its relevant agencies.
Such questions from one aspect practically point to Odah and to some extent, Governor Umahi who needs to provide answer on whether there are no more civil and legal ways of addressing issues bothering on threat tot public peace in a community when it arises?
To me and every sane mind, if anybody should feign ignorance to this thought provoking question, should not be Clement Odah, a legal luminary who is coincidentally holding the number one position in Ohaukwu Local Government Area as the Executive Chairman of the council or David Umahi, a very intelligent Civil Engineer and holder of the number one political seat in Ebonyi, the Salt of the Nation.
Without sounding immodest or biased, in 2016, an Ezza man was murdered by an Effiumite in the same Effium Community which both of them belong to. This was handled purely as a homicide case which it was.
The culprit was apprehended and sued to court. Though, justice is yet to be gotten, 5 years after, but Ezza people, who are generally seen as lovers of peace are patiently waiting for justice to prevail over the 2016 unfortunate incident.
Although, there was a wide speculations and thought that the Ezza people would resort to violence regarding the killing, they never did, but have been patiently waiting for the very day justice would take its course over the unwarranted actions of 2016.
In fact, the erroneous speculation and thought that Ezza people would go on reprisals over the killing of their kinsman in 2016, might have made the Effiumites to resort to emergency arms acquisition and stockpiling; with the assistance of the Ohaukwu Local Government Boss, Clement Odah who is also an Effium man. Odah is in the saddle of power in Ohaukwu, and he is in full charge of the Council’s allocation and spending of the Council’s fund.
No wonder his coming handy with funds heightened the allegations connecting him with unchecked possession, procurement and transportation of the acquired arms and ammunition to Effium to enable his people wipe out Ezza people at any time possible.
But contrary to what they thought, the Ezza people have refused to run out of patience, five years after, despite the delay in serving justice.
Having long equipped themselves, the Effiumites changed their game and decided to launched an unprovoked war against Ezza people in order to executive their genocide agenda aimed at exterminating Ezza people from Effium Community, so that themselves (Effiumites) that are migrants from Uffiom in Ukele in Cross River would have full control of the community.
Borrowing a leaf from the current Nigeria’s greatest threat, the Boko Haram in their operation procedures of causing colossal loss of lives and damages of immeasurable amount of properties as well as attracting government attention, the Ezza people who indigenous people of Effium Community have great pains of great loss of life and property in the hands of Effiumites in the ongoing carnage in the area.
Just like every terrorist organization, this act of blackmailing government into the consideration of hitherto unjustifiable demands seems to be promising to the Effiumites.
Otherwise, how else could it be explained that they are demanding for re-allocation of lands in Effium Community after over 100 years of cohabitation?
Of course, the demand by Effiumites for re-allocation of lands which some acquired naturally and those bought legally with evidence of power of attorney does not need any consideration from government because it will rather lead to a war without end in Effium Community.
Come to think of it, can the various clans that make up Ebonyi State agree to a such re-distribution of naturally acquired parcels of land among them after centuries of existence or even such once purchased with money overtime? Would even the Governor use his exalted position to make such demands on behalf of his Uburu people on their neighbours like Okposi, Afikpo and many others? Can Izzi, Ikwo and Ngbo agree to the option of re-parcelation of the Ekumenyi land which descendants, his first son, Ezekuna had lived for over 100 years?
This is the hatchet job that Clement Odah, the Ohaukwu Council Boss is doing and banking on his relationship with the governor to achieve, using the current crisis.
Should this ugly trend be allowed to see the light of the day, what stops any other tribe desirous of expanding the boundaries of their land from playing by script of Odah—acquire arms, initiate avoidable war with neighbours, cause maximal death and damages of properties and get government to allocate more land to you from that of those you have maimed and brutally murdered even in defiance to the Governor’s cease fire orders.
As strange as this sounds, this is the reality of the carnage going on in Effium since 22nd of January, 2021 and the new law Mr. Clement Odah wants to institute in Ebonyi clime. The Governor should rise beyond his personal relationship with the Ohaukwu Council boss,Odah, to fulfill the oath he swore to protect the lives and properties of Ebonyi citizens, part of which are the over 500 people already killed in Effium Community crisis.
Odah, the Ohaukwu council boss has no business still being in office and having access to the council fund he has been using to prosecute war against the people he swore to protect.
The crisis in Effium Community is not a contest of land as there is no parcel of land in contention in the Community, otherwise, let Clement Odah and his bloody cohorts come out and prove it.
There is no land boundary dispute between Ezza-Effium and Effium people in the area.The purported leadership tussle in the motor park which has been promoted to war should not be used to usurp people’s land just because someone in the person of Odah claims to be in power as LG boss and has a relationship with Governor David Umahi.
Achieving this is promoting a society of war without end as no Effium man will allow his land to be taken from him and given to Ezza man or Ezza man allow his land to be taken by any guise and given to Effium man when there is no contention at all connecting to land in any part of Effium Community.
The Governor should rather review the creation of autonomous community in Effium. Of the four communities created in Effium in the old Anambra State, only one is recognized in Ebonyi State after its creation.
Every other political ward in Ohaukwu Local Government is equal to an autonomous community except in Effium where 5 wards are compelled to be one community.
Why are the majority in Effium Community having minority number of political wards? Why are there no geographical boundaries to wards in Effium Community as in other parts of the country? Why are people not allowed to vote in the polling booths closest to them as in the 1999 Electoral Act as amended?
These and other numerous issues are what the Governor must answer or charge the judicial panel of inquiry he set up to unravel and bring to his full knowledge and understanding before a rash decision of ceding part of Ezza-Effium villages to Effium or Effium villages to Ezza-Effium.
Let the wrong precedent not be set as it will only give birth a new form of terrorism in Ebonyi State, resulting to unlawful killings for land acquisition and expansion.