By Abah Joshua
A public affairs analyst, Achiko Daniel has disclosed reasons why the intra-communal crisis between the indigenous people of Effium and Ezza-Effium in Ohaukwu local government area of Ebonyi erupted and lasted for over two months during which the lives of innocent women, children and elders were lost, including the wanton destruction of properties worth billions of naira.
In a press statement made available to journalists in Abakaliki, Achiko, disclosed that at the wake of the crisis which started as a mere riot that would come to an end within days, except that stakeholders who were supposed to close ranks to ensure that the crisis was averted refused to do the needful.
He explained that there was no regard for constituted authorities in the community simply because the two parties differ in tradition, politics, culture and orientation such that it would be difficult for an Ezza man to respect the indigenous traditional ruler and also accord respect to political office holder from Effium extraction.
He further called on the federal and state government to look into the settlement pattern and device a new settlement arrangement such that each party would be allowed to practice her tradition and politics without interference , and by so doing, further crisis would be averted.
The statement read in part, ” information available to me shows that at the wake of the crisis, the chairman of Ohaukwu local government area, Clement Odah and the house member, Awo Chinedu from the community came into the community in the chairman’s official car to Effium, which shows their collective resolve to nip the brewing crisis.
“The two of them were said to have ran into a group of youths from Ezza Ezekuna extraction who had already blocked the first forest, stopping and searching vehicles entering the community. They were alleged to have robbed some of the vehicles and possibly looking for their enemies to kidnap and kill.
“The duo, Odah Clement and Awo Chinedu advanced to the community in the company of the two coordinators of Effium and Effium South Development Centers respectively, Agbo Sunday and Ogwale Eucharia traversed the community in an effort go quell the already raging youths. At this time, the crisis doused to an extent.
“The political office holders after addressing the youths of Effium at the popular Wigbeke playing ground went to Okporo, where it was learnt that some Ezza Ezekuna youths were gathered spoiling for war. On arrival with police teams drafted to quell the crisis,the youths dared the police and started shooting sporadically at them.
“However, the police overpowered the youths as they fled to the forest. At this point, the Ezza Ezekuna youths had also fell melina trees blocking the road leading to Effium. All these were happening on the 22nd of January,2021. It was the Chairman, Odah who immediately mobilized people to clear the trees off the road to allow flow of traffic and travelers trapped at the other side of the road.
“It was at this point that Awo Chinedu, who is from the Ezza Ezekuna extraction was directed by the chairman to do everything possible to ensure that the youths dropped their arms to prevent escalation of the crisis. Awo Chinedu was said to have advanced to the forest , came back, but was later forced by security agencies to go back and talk to the warring youths.
“The chairman also suggested that both of them should stay back in the community to control the youths from any further attack, but Awo in defiance left the community to Abakaliki. The chairman also asked the two coordinators to disseminate text messages for an emergency meeting at Effium Police Divisional headquarters.
“It was that night that six Effium indigenous persons were attacked at the Okpoduma village and shot by the Ezza warriors. That night also, there were sporadic shootings in Effium community. The following day, 23rd, that was supposed to be the meeting, none of the stakeholders from Ezza extraction attended the meeting. And this is suggestive.
“It was that day that Frank Onwe, Omenka Nicodemus and the palace of the Ogaba Idu II of Effium late Awoke Basil’s houses were set ablaze by the Ezza Ezekuna youths. Should the stakeholders attended the meeting, the crisis would have been averted. But now, it is unimaginable the loss that both parties have incurred.
“The Ezza residents in Effium had complained that they are suffering cultural dissimilarities and that ward were created based on tribal lines and that they are agitating to become traditional ruler in Effium which were amongst their claim for the escalation of the crisis.
“The governor and the federal government should grant the Ezzas in Effium independence to avoid the clash in culture and politics by way of demarcating the land as recommended by the colonial masters. This will help to avert future crisis”‘ Achiko noted.