- Seven Delta communities are presently embroiled in crisis ranging from land dispute and ascension to royal throne
- Many lives and properties have been lost while kidnapping and destruction of farmland continue to be the order of the day
- The communities are spread across the three senatorial districts of the oil rich Delta state
As at the last count, seven communities in Delta state are presently experiencing tension of the highest magnitude. They are in the three senatorial districts of the state. One in Delta south, one in Delta central and five in Delta north. Ogbe-Ijoh in Warri south west in Delta south is having running battle over land boundary with Aladja in Udu local government area in Delta central.
The two communities are sharing boundary but there has been serious conflict between them as the boundary conflict has defied all pleas from the government, the military and the police in the area. Many lives have been lost and properties destroyed. The intervention of the security apparatus has not in any way helped the situation.
The governor of the state, Ifeanyi Okowa, has set up committee to mediate, investigate and proffer solutions, the crisis is still going unresolved. The crisis had begun over a year, it got worse this year leading to bloodshed, burning of police station, laying accusation against each other and destroying farmlands.
Youths are the arrowhead of the crisis, they have refused to accede to the decision of the governor, even with the threat of the governor who said he would not take lightly anyone who threatens the peace of the community. The youths, their traditional rulers and the women of both communities have turned blind eye to the warning and threat of the governor.
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Only a few days back, there were reports of sporadic gunshots at the early hours of the day, sending shivers down the spine of poor residents of the communities, a development which led to drafting soldiers and police men to the area to quell the uprising and ensure peace prevails.
Idumuje Ugboko, a tiny agrarian community in Aniocha north local government area in Delta north is also dangerously embroiled in crisis. The crisis is emanating from the royal family and the community members are at the receiving end.
The Obi of the community, Albert Nwoko, died in February 2017 and the replacement for the vacant stool has been a source of battle and conflict in the area. Available reports indicate that there has been destruction of properties, there has been series of thugs invading the community allegedly imported to unleash mayhem on the innocent residents.
There are also reports of students and market women being forced to shut down to avoid the hard consequences of youths’ action in the community. The young and the old are feeling the pangs of the destruction going on. As at present, there is fear and tension as people no longer move freely but with fear of attack from the unknown.
Just last week Thursday, a police team with the assistant inspector general of police from Benin City, Edo state, stormed the community to assess the level of damage done to the settlement by dissident and deviant youths. There is turmoil and tension presently in the area. People there are living in fear of the next move of the rebels.
The state government is yet to wade in but facts indicate that the governor of the state, Ifeanyi Okowa, may have been informed of the turmoil in the community but there has been no indication of the governor’s reaction to the crisis tearing the community apart.
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Also, Amai, Eziopkor, Obiaruku and Umuebi all in Ukwuani local government area in Delta north are also having a bitter experience of war, kidnapping and death. Legit.ng learnt that the cause of the battle in the four communities is land dispute as it is affecting Ogbe-Ijoh and Aladja in the riverine area of the state. As a result of this, the communities are embroiled in fighting and communal wars.
The warring communities are pointing accusing fingers at each other as the cause of the crisis. An indigene of Umuebu alleged that Amai community is the one initiating the battle against other communities in the area.
The source told Legit.ng: “Amai people are worrying us. I’m from Umuebu. Amai is fighting Umuebi, Obiaruku, Eziokpor and Ezionu. Yes, the cause of the fight is land. We gave them land many years ago. Amai people came there as visitors begging for land. We gave them land to farm, they bring farm produce and others.
“After a while, they claimed the land saying it is their own. They took us to court, right from customary court to Supreme Court, we won them. The last judgment was given far back in the 1990s. Having won them, they now resorted to fighting us. It is now war. People are being killed.
“From time to time they attack us. There was one Umuebu man and woman they killed. They cut the parts of the woman. The parts were found in Amai land. Army arrested them and there was shooting in the area. Now, soldiers and police have taken over the place.”
It was learnt that one Augustine Okpochini, was abducted by unknown gunmen on his way from Obiaruku, the Ukwuani local government headquarters of Delta state. He was said to have been kidnapped after reporting a case at the police station.
From Amai’s end, there are reports of abduction of their people who went to farm but were kidnapped by people of the other communities. Reports say one Francis Ikpole from Amai who went to farm was abducted by youths and taken hostage by Eziokpor community members as alleged by his son who managed to escape from the scene.
A facebook post by Amai community indicates that some people suspected to be from Umuebu community unleashed mayhem on innocent farmers in their Enukei farmland, an area included in the disputed land leaving one Mr. Chukwunedum Ashikodi dead, having been shot severally at close range with others injured.
The incident was said to have happened on Tuesday June 6, 2017. The armed men, according to an eye witness were said to have crossed the Azuiyi farm and opened fire on the people.
The escalating crisis rose to a point where a student of the private university in Ogume, Novena University, was waylaid and kidnapped by suspected armed youths from Obiaruku over the lingering boundary dispute in the area.
The student, Nathaniel Edehwosa, a final year Accountancy student, an indigene of Eku in Ethiope East local government area, was waylaid by the youths who mounted road block on the Obiaruku end of the Kwale/Amai/Obiaruku road where over 10 people have been reportedly killed over the disputed land.
A local source told Legit.ng that the slain student was mistaken to be an indigene of Amai community and was dragged out of a vehicle that was conveying him to school and whisked away to unknown destination but his decomposing body was later found by the university’s private security.
However, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has called the warring communities to sheath their swords and embrace peace. The governor’s warning followed the call by the state commissioner of police, Ibrahim Zanna, for the communities to end hostilities and settle issues amicably.
The governor warned traditional rulers and youths to end the crisis and come to a round table for dialogue. The governor, in a meeting held during the week with the parties, had ordered for the immediate release of all abducted persons within one week to allow the government find solution to the problem.
Meanwhile, Acting President Yemi Osibanjo has called on Nigerians to live in unity and avoid acrimony. Watch him on Legit.ng video