David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka
At least one person has been confirmed dead while three others escaped death with varying degrees of injury in Ikenga Ogidi community, home town of late literally giant, Prof Chinua Achebe, in a clash with Umusiome community in Nkpor, a neighbouring town in Anambra State
Both communities in Idemili North Local Government Areas of the state have had a running battle spanning several years over a parcel of land, despite a Supreme Court judgment and the efforts of the state government to mediate in the matter.
The clash, which occurred last Saturday, claimed the life of a 70-year-old man, Mr. Anthony Okongwu, while three other persons who sustained injuries were still being attended to in an undisclosed hospital in the state.
The President General of Ikenga Ogidi community, Hon Amaechi Ekume, who spoke to THISDAY on the clash, said he and some elders of the community had gone to the disputed land to inspect it since Umusiome Nkpor people had defied a Supreme Court judgment given in 1997 to continue to develop the land.
According to him, “We went there without anything in mind, but we were surprised when suddenly, Umusiome people attacked us, while shooting, and in the process, we lost one of our elders and three other people sustained injuries.
“It was not a fight between our community and theirs because we did not go there with any intention. At least, the age of the people who went with us and that of the man who was killed would tell you that we were not there for trouble but to inspect the land.”
Ekume regretted that the police could not save his people despite knowing that Umusiome people were trespassing on the land, without recourse to a Supreme Court judgment as well as the effort of the state government to resolve the dispute.
He called on the state government to quickly wade into the matter to forestall further incidences of breakdown of law and order as Ikenga Ogidi community would not tolerate further attack on its people.
Meanwhile, the Chairman Umusiome comminity, Mr. Pius Obiogbolu, in his reaction, acknowledged that the two communities have been in the land dispute for many years. He however did not react to the allegation that members of his community attacked their Ikenga Ogidi neighbours.
He said: “We are not challenging the Supreme Court judgment. What we are challenging is the state government gazette which was wrongly made. We want it repealed. We also want the state government to implement the recommendations made by those they invited to look into the land dispute.”
The spokesperson of the state Police Command, SP Haruna Mohammed, confirmed the incident, saying the command has launched investigation into the matter, and was also keeping vigilance on the area to forestall further breakdown of law and order.