Effium Peace: Landlords Of Effium Community Are Not In Folklores But In The Nigerian Constitution.

By Monday Eze

It has been established that Effium Community is an apartheid enclave in Ebonyi State where the citizens are classified into first class and second class citizens by reason of the circumstances of their birth. It was this anomaly that led to the fatal crisis in 2002 and the ongoing fratricidal communal war which began 2021 which has claimed thousands of lives, including children, women, the aged and the physically-challenged; and properties worth billions of naira. Except Nwifuru's administration which has been neutral and striving to solve the Effium debacle, successive Ebonyi State Governments have been complicit in the age-long apartheid in Effium Community. The Sam Egwu administration laid the foundation of apartheid and crisis in Effium Community not only by stifling the traditional stools of the three communities of Effium indigenes of Ezza Ezekuna extraction. Egwu violated the rotation order of Effium traditional stool by arbitrarily installing Eze Basil Awoke as successor of Eze Leonard Agena. He supervised the appropriation of the stool by Effium indigenes of Korri extraction (Uffiom). The lethargic Egwu administration equally supervised the manipulation of the Nigerian electoral law in Effium Community to suffocate the franchise of Effium indigenes of Ezza Ezekuna extraction (Ezza Effium) by refusing to allow people register and vote in the nearest polling units or geographic delineation of polling unit/ward boundaries. The criminality of having ward boundaries on air has been exposed by the transformation of voting points to polling units: In Effium Community, Ezza Effium with about 40,000 voting strength and 66 polling units are squeezed into two electoral wards while the Uffiom with about 14,000 voting strength and 29 polling units are spread across three electoral wards! Egwu set up a panel on the 2002 Effium crisis but could not implement his administration's 2004 white paper on the panel's report which recommended immediate end to apartheid in Effium Community.

Busy in the trenches of the internecine war which he allegedly caused in Ezillo, Elechi could only nourish the apartheid in Effium Community to full blossom through biased political appointments and internal policies. Umahi's restless and entrepreneurial administration sparked off the ongoing war in Effium through policy summersaults, double talks, pitching government officials in Effium against one another and an alleged unconscionable crave for control of Effium minerals. Umahi mentioned names of officials of his administration who allegedly caused the Effium war but he did not prosecute them! Umahi refused to either publish or make use of the report of his panel on Effium war which he received in August 2021. Under Umahi, Effium Community became a human abattoir.

Governor Nwifuru set up a peace committee consisting of people with ecclesiastic and other noble backgrounds. The world expects sincere appraisal of Effium war and frank constitutional recommendations in order to bring lasting peace to Effium Community. Forces behind the apartheid in Effium have always frustrated Effium peace efforts like the current Bishop Okoro Peace Committee through diversion of the focus of such committees/panels from the extant laws and the Nigerian constitution to incoherent and pedestrian folklores in answering the simple but sensitive question: Who are the landlords of Effium Community? The primordial efforts to approach Effium peace from unconstitutional angles is responsible for the failure of all the previous panels/committees on Effium. If the Bishop Okoro Peace Committee wants to succeed, it must avoid this pitfall of seeking Effium peace outside the laws and constitution of Nigeria! This is important as none of the narratives of the two major extractions of Effium Community - Ezza Effium and Uffiom - is sufficient to ground exclusive claim of nativity or aboriginal landlord status. For instance, Uffiom people, on one hand, are migrant aboriginal hunters of Ukele in the present Crossriver State. In their migrations, Uffiom people lived in Amezekwe, Ezza South LGA and Enyibuchiri Ishieke, Ebonyi LGA before settling in Effium Community. A playgroud, Ngamgbo Egu-Efiom in Amezekwe; and a pond, Okpuru Efiom in Enyibuchiri Ishieke respectively stand as historical witnesses to the foregoing submission. Ezza Effium people, on the other hand, are migrant aboriginal farmers from Onueke, Ebonyi State. It is paradoxical to imagine that Crossriver State migrants are landlords of aboriginal Ebonyi people in a part of Ebonyi State where the said Ezza Effium produced the first traditional ruler verifiably certified by the Government of Eastern Region on 1st September, 1960! This is the futility of the preferred folklores bandied each time Effium peace is up for discussion.

The Nigerian constitution supercedes every other narrative, creed and code: By the combined effects of sections 1(3) and 315 (5) of the 1999 CFRN and section 1 of the Land Use Act 1978, the entire Nigerian territorial land space is nationalised and vested in the governors of the states of the federation. Through section 43 of the 1999 CFRN every citizen of Nigeria including Ezza Effium and Uffiom are entitled to acquire, own, and peacefully enjoy land in any part of Nigeria including Effium Community. Section 36 of the Land Use Act states that holders of land in rural areas before the commencement of the Act are deemed holders of all the customary rights, and this includes rights to royalties of minerals in the land they hold. Ezza Effium and Uffiom peoples have been living inseparably together in Effium Community, holding together the land that constitute the community for decades before the Land Use Act of 1978. By the provisions of Land Use Act and the Nigerian constitution, Ezza Effium and Uffiom peoples are joint landlords of Effium Community. Anything beside this is mischievous, unconstitutional, extralegal and cannot pass judicial tests because a peace committee cannot be work against the constitution and national unity!