ENUGU STATE GOVERNMENT ABANDONS OKPANKU COMMUNITY
The boundary dispute between Okpanku in Aninri L G A of Enugu State and Akaeze in Ebonyi State has continued to generate problems and security concerns on daily basis. On the 23rd of june 2017, the Akaeze people in Ebonyi State, once again mobilized themselves and invaded part of Okpanku, attacking them without any provocation.
Okpanku community was alerted of the invassion and the entire community assembled at the palace of their Traditional ruler, HRH, Igwe Reginald Chukwu to brief him of the development and also to seek for his advice. The traditional ruler prevailed on the already charged and angry villagers to calm down and not to take laws into their hands, promised them of taking the matter up with his Akaeze counterpart - (the traditional ruler of the invading community).
On the 1st of July 2017, the traditional ruler of Akaeze Community visited Okpanku Community, accompanied by some of his community leaders/elders for a peace meeting. At the end of the meeting, he promissed to caution his erring subjects that participated in the illegal invassion. The following day after the peace talks, the same criminal act was visited on Okpanku Community again with casualties recorded.
The affront at which Okpanku Community has been severally violeted by her neighbour in Ebonyi State has reached a point of intervention by Enugu State Government. Enugu State Government is aware of the violent abuses, violations and general damages to agricultural products by the rampaging radicals from Akaeze Community in Ebonyi State. The Community wonders why the Aninri local government area Chairman, who is their closest government contact has feined ignorance of the treatments meted to a community in the LGA. Why hss the Enugu State Governor been quite over this after several petitions has been sent to him on the matter. One wonders if Okpanku Community has been sacrificed at the alter of political settlement among the political powers-that-be. The feeling in the Community is that of neglet and abandonment by Enugu State Government.
The utter neglet by Aninri LGA of an impending threat to security of one of her communities bewilders everyone. What could be withholding Enugu State Government from fast tracking the reports and conclusions of the boundary adjustment committee or is it part of the grand plan of conquer and divide? Where is the legal boundary of Enugu and Ebonyi States ? Who adjusted the beacons and why?
At the intervention of Senator Ike Ekweremadu last year, both Communities were asked to maitain the existing status quo pending when the boundary committee will deliver their report. Even at that, the Akaeze community continued to sale the lands and erect structures. Sometime in August 2016, a petition was despatched to the Governor of Enugu State on an intelligence information about imminent attack by Akaeze community against Okpanku Community. The attack eventually took place, resulting to lose of several lives but His Excellency, the Governor of Enugu State failed to act. Some press men visited both Communities and confirmed the attack while the Enugu State Government stood-by and watched without coming to it's citizens rescue.Again, the Akaeze community attacked Okpanku on the 25th of March 2017, with 1 person confirmed dead. They were armed with Ak. 47s and other dangerous weapons and bulldozers which they used in allocating the lands in dispute.
However, in violation of the boundary committee's advise that both parties should stay clear of the affected areas, the Akaeze people have gone ahead selling the lands and constructing structures. This provocation may trigger arms confrontation and stockpilling around the region. The conscequences of such scnerio will endanger peace which eventually will spillover to other communities.
It is our opinon that His Excellenccy,Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, as the Chief Security Officer of the State should activate the policing of the community, especially the affected areas while he must be courageous to visit the disputed sites.
It is our profound expectation that Enugu State Government finds out the officially legal position of the disputed lands from the boundary Committee and assist in the implimentation. Presently, it is an avoidable conflict which will need the political will of the political leaders and morale resolve of the two states to contain it. As agrarian communities, the states involved and the nation as a whole can not afford to neglate this dispute.
There is a strong believe that the Akaeze community of Ebonyi State is acting with the active connivance and support of their State Governor, Engr. Umahi, who supplies them with bulldozers and other logistics.
Posterity will not praise Enugu State government for her inability to have protected and supported her community while it was being gradually annehiliated by her Ebonyi State neighbours. Enugu State government must arise today to the ocassion and protect her own. The time to act is NOW!