By Ishola Balogun
A full scale war is brewing between the people of Adadama Community in Abi Local government area of Cross River State and Ndiagu Amagu Community in Ikwo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State over land disputes. Before now, about 35 people have been killed, including a Ph.D student and a Youth Corps member beheaded recently by militants who invaded the community.
As at press time, there were reports that the Amagus were allegedly planning another attack on the Adadama community, causing mass exodus from the community. The Amagu and Adadama communities have been embroiled in a land dispute for more than 50 years. Since the recent hostilities in the area broke out, hundreds of lives have been lost while properties worth billions of Naira have been lost.
The Secretary of the Traditional Rulers’ council of Adadama, Chief James Ekoro Edu who spoke with Saturday Vanguard said the community had petitioned the Presidency, urging President Jonathan including security agencies to come to their aid to avert another looming bloodshed.
We got to know of their plans and we have written a letter to President Jonathan and of course, we want the whole world to know what is going on,” he stated.
Speaking to Saturday Vanguard, Chief Ekoro said; “they have chased us out of our farmland, they have overpowered us with their numerical strength and wealth. But we will not succumb to this gross injustice”
According to him, “The security men including soldiers mounted in the Buka zone have been withdrawn exposing us to our enemies.”
In a letter to President Jonathan signed by His Royal Highness, Eval Fidelis Ikor Addu, Chief James Ekoro Edu and other chiefs in the community, it reads:
“On behalf of the traditional rulers’ council of Adadama, we write to draw your attention Your Excellency to the killing of innocent, harmless and voiceless men, women and children by trigger-hungry hired mercenaries from Ikwo Local Government Area (LGA) of Ebonyi State of Nigeria, which started Monday, January 14 – 15, and on Saturday, January 19, 2013 respectively. There was a repeat of the ugly incident in February 14th, March 16thand March 18th, when Chief Edu Nteh’s wife, late Mrs. Catherine Edu Nteh was whisked from her farmland, and again on the 2nd of September, 2013. A total of 16 dead bodies were recovered and five women kidnapped till date.”
“In fact, the September killing actually compelled His Excellency, the Governor of Cross River State, Sen. (Dr.) Liyel Imoke CON to visit Adadama Community, September 18th, 2013. Perhaps, touched by what he saw and heard on his visit to Adadama Community, Governor Imoke promised our people a peaceful and lasting solution to the crisis. Unfortunately, this is exactly 14 months after his visit and nothing has happened up till this very moment. What we hear rather is that the Federal Government is bringing a Police Academy to be sited at the disputed area.
“Interestingly, the Amagus’ of Ikwo Local Government Area in Ebonyi State again beheaded in cold blood the only daughter of our traditional ruler and a serving Youth Corps member, Princess Emame Fidelis I. Addu on May 1st this year. The killing of the Corps member (Princess) led to the withdrawal of all serving Youth Corps members from Adadama community. And not only that, the Amagus’ and their mercenaries are now using Guerrilla tactics to kill innocent and harmless Adadama women as they go to harvest cassava and other crops in their farms. Your Excellency, between May and October, 2014; three women have been beheaded; the last two being Mrs Bassey Ajayi Edu and Mrs Grace Emmanuel Lebo on the 10th of October.
Apart from the alleged orchestrated attack, Chief Ekoro also stated that there were lingering claims that some powerful individuals in Ebonyi have vowed to either annex Adadama Community land or use all resources at their disposal to exterminate the people of Adadama Community.
He said: “The threat seems to be working for them going by what their people are doing. The fact that the Amagus went and cultivated crops in the portion of land that government marked as a ‘No Go Area’ with a standing order that nobody should do anything on it is a pointer to the fact that some powerful individuals are behind this invasion,” he said.
“We are a peace loving people and we have cohabited with the Okpitomos of Ikwo for over 2000 years without a glitch, until the Amagus came from nowhere to reside where they are today. Interestingly, they attempted their mischief in 2001 by exhuming the beacon stone laid by G. G. Shute along the old South Eastern region in 1920 on the flank they are living today”.
On what the Governor Liyel Imoke is doing about the issue, Ekoro said the government seems lame and inactive because of her peaceful and gentle approach to issues.
He stated that the story of the oil rich Bakassi peninsular might repeat itself, if something was not done to bring peace and normalcy to the area.
“We crave your special indulgence to intervene expeditiously because innocent people are often the victims. We hope that the sonorous cries of our people who with Dane guns and cutlasses have to confront hired mercenaries from Ikwo in Ebonyi State armed with sophisticated weapons will prompt you into quick action. We need to also bring to your notice that the several hundreds of innocent women, children are displaced, currently facing the challenge of food and materials,” Chief Ekoro cried.