Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State
By Charles Onyekamuoâ€¨
About 11 people were Monday reportedly wounded in a renewed gun battle between Aguleri-Otu in Anambra State and Echonwa/Ideke communities in Kogi State over the ownership of the land, where Orient Petroleum Refinery was built.
THISDAY checks in Aguleri-Otu revealed that there might be many casualties from both sides of the communities but that three persons had severe gunshot wounds and had been taken to an undisclosed hospital.
The Special Adviser to Anambra State Governor on Security, Col George Molokwu, who confirmed the incident to THISDAY, could not however confirm the number of the casualty figures.
“I am aware there were fresh skirmishes for two days now, on Saturday and Sunday. I was told that two people were hospitalised in the hospital because of gunshot wounds. I have told the police to search for the hospital and give us feedback.
“I was surprised at the incident because Kogi and Anambra State Governors have spoken on the need for calm and peace to be sustained on this issue of boundary between two brotherly communities and the two sides of the divide, Kogi and Anambra States.
“They have been appealed to lay down their arms and I am most surprised they have started over again to create tension. But I am joining Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State and Captain Idris Wada of Kogi State to appeal to the communities to lay down their arms in the interest of peace and unity because without peace and unity the communities would not develop.
“The skirmishes are deterring development of oil and gas in that zone and it is unfortunate. We want peace and everybody should give peace a chance,” he said.
But the Chairman of Anambra East local government area, Mr. Chiedu Obidigwe, in whose jurisdiction is Aguleri Otu, is located simply said three people were hospitalised and eight others injured from gunshot wounds.
“My brother, things are beginning to take a dangerous shape. Yes, it is true that eight were shot and three had serious gunshot wounds and were hospitalised. I am sure there may be more than that number but to be on safe side that is the position. There are casualties from Echonwa and Ideke but I did not get to their community to know the casualty rate and nobody called me from there.
“The Ibaji Local Government Area of Kogi State has obviously disobeyed the order of the two wise Governors of Anambra and Kogi States over the communal clash. The governors had advised the two communities to maintain the peace and order and stop going after each other as they did yesterday to the people of Aguleri-Otu until the National boundary Commission comes out with a stand o the boundary.
“Eight persons sustained serious gunshot wounds and three were critical. The boundary they are after is not theirs and our boundary is known to us. The two state governor’s should encourage the two communities involved to maintain peace and should mandate the two traditional leaders to go on negotiating table and sort the issues involved out traditionally and amicably too. There is traditional settlement to land disputes and that approach should follow to avoid maiming of lives and property.
“It will serve as peace to return but I am also warning the arm chair politicians from Kogi State in Abuja and Kogi State to steer clear of misleading their people and laying claims on a land they don’t know its history there by misleading the innocent citizens of Kogi State.
“And the oil in question is not in Kogi land and if there is oil in Kogi let them look for an organisation to explore their oil and gas but not in Aguleri land but I must say it is sad. However, nobody was killed since this started but some people were abducted,” he said.