Posted by News Express | 3 April 2013 | 7,626 times
Weeping and the gnashing of teeth has become the order of the day in Enugu-Otu Aguleri, Anambra East Local Government Area of Anambra State, following the alleged invasion of the community by the people of Ashonwo/Odeke, Ibaji Local Government Council of Kogi State.
Aguleri people are now counting their losses, which include the loss of seven lives and the torching of at least 52 houses, according to a community leader, Chief Anekwe Arinze.
Speaking with newsmen on Monday, Chief Arinze said that the people of Ashonwo/Odeke invaded their community at about 1:30 a.m. when they had all gone to bed.
“We were sleeping when suddenly we started hearing gunshots everywhere and when some of us came out to know what was happening, we saw our houses on fire. Our children and women who tried to escape were shot and many were wounded. We heard them saying the land belongs to them and that we cannot take it. That was when we knew it was Kogi people,” he said.
According to Chief Arinze, “Some of our men who summoned the courage to pursue them could not get them because when they noticed our prompt response, they ran away. Already we have counted seven corpses. They also kidnapped three men. But we cannot fold our hands while they kill our people. They must release them to us hale and hearty.”
The Transition Committee Chairman of Anambra East Council, Comrade Chinedu Obidigwe, lamented the level of destruction in Enugu-Otu Aguleri, saying it was unfortunate that their neighbours chose to take laws into their hands.
It would be recalled that News Express had lately done two stories on the crisis (March 28 and April 1) to draw attention to the ticking time bomb. In the last of the stories, Jacob Edi, Special Assistant to Kogi State Governor, vehemently denied that any part of Kogi had attacked Aguleri, host community of Orient Petroleum promoted by the Anambra State Government and private investors commissioned last August by President Goodluck Jonathan. Kogi had started laying claim to the area hosting the petroleum company after the commissioning.
Edi had told News Express: “It’s unheard of that we can recruit or arm people to go and fight Aguleri people. Communal clash is not associated with Kogi State.
“That oil belongs to Kogi State. OPL 915 which has oil in commercial quantity is in Odeke in Ibaji Local Government of Kogi State. But in spite of this, the Government of Kogi said that we prefer to use due process to reclaim the oil. The matter is being handled at the highest level and the three state governors – Kogi, Enugu and Anambra – have made presentations on the issue before President Goodluck Jonathan. We want to allow the National Boundaries Commission to do its work.
“There is no community in Kogi State fighting the people of Aguleri. Kogi State is not known for shedding blood; it is the people of Aguleri and Umuleri who are known for fighting and shedding blood. I suspect that what the people of Aguleri want to do is to create an alibi so as to frustrate our efforts to reclaim our oil through due process.”
•Orient Petroleum Chairman, Chief Emeka Anyaoku.
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