It was a moment of trepidation and agony for the people of Ojiogu and Okpochiri Ukwagba Ngbo in Ohaukwsu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, following an alleged attack that was unleashed on them by their neighbours within the boundary area of Benue and Ebonyi States which left many dead and others injured and missing.
This happened as gunmen invaded a drinking joint at Akwuke, Enugu South Local Government Area of Enugu State, and shot dead a pregnant woman and a vigilante member.
Apart from the killings, Vanguard reliably gathered that properties worth millions of naira were also destroyed as a result of the ugly incident in Ebonyi.
An eyewitness who spoke on condition of anonymity alleged that the identities of the attackers of Ngbo people in Ebonyi were both Benue indigenes (warlords) and the Ezza living within the boundary areas.
According to him, “I saw the people that attacked us. They were Benue and Ezza indigenes. What happened is usually an annual development that borders on land dispute.
“This dispute is occasioned by the quest for land, especially for farming by both sides of the divide. One person was killed, many were missing, and many injured while many are now displaced.
“It usually happens every year during rainy season. It is a normal land dispute in the area. During the incident, many people scampered for safety. Those people whose houses were destroyed will now become refugees.
“They don’t have anywhere to go to. They will go to their brothers, sisters, and in-laws’ houses to seek refuge. Benue people came together to fight Ngbo people. It is what I saw on the ground.”
In his findings, the Coordinator, Ngbo North Development Centre, DC, Echem Onyekachi stated that seven corpses had so far been discovered following the incident.
“As of now, we have discovered seven corpses, 6 injured persons and so many houses and shops were burnt down in many places. Some people are still missing.
“Before now, we have been having clashes with the people of Ado Local Government Area of Benue State. So, it is always during this period that this kind of crisis usually occurs.
“I suspect that this crisis was caused by Agila people in Benue State. Anybody calling Ezza is on his or her own. Ngbo people and the Ezza people do not have any dispute or crisis. I believe that this crisis is caused by Agila people. It is the issue bordering on land.
“Government should write to the National Boundary Commission, NBC, for land demarcation between Ngbo and Agila people. Without government intervention, the crisis will continue. It is over 100 years. It is above my grand father.”
Also, the Town Union President for Ukwagba Community, Eze Moses Ekpe, in a telephone chat with Vanguard explained that 15 corpses had so far been discovered in the affected communities of Ngbo.
According to him, the search is still on to enable the community to get the details of the number of causalities and those displaced.
“We have alerted the Commissioner of Police and other government agencies. The CP sent some policemen there today. The victims are too many. We are still searching. For now, 15 persons were killed, while many are missing. Houses were burnt and farmlands were destroyed
“We are still discovering dead bodies and that’s why I said we are still searching. We want government to help us beef up security there. The attack came from Ezza people.”
Confirming the incident, the Chairman of Ohaukwu Local Government Area, Clement Odah condemned the incident in the strongest terms and reassured all that no stones will be left unturned to unravel the true circumstances that led to such unwarranted attack and loss of lives and properties.
“Ohaukwu Local Government Council has received with concern, report of the security breaches and attack against the innocent people of Ojiogu and Okpochiri Ukwagba Ngbo on Monday the 27th of June, 2022.
“The council has liaised with appropriate security agents to immediately move into the troubled area while working assiduously with the relevant stakeholders to ensure a quick return of peace and normalcy to Ukwagba.
“Our heartfelt sympathies go to all the affected families and our beloved brothers from the affected villages and indeed the entire Ngboejeogu clan.
“The Council re-affirms our commitment to promote and propagate peace in every part of Ohaukwu Local Government Area and indeed in all communities. The government of Ebonyi State under our peace-loving governor has worked assiduously to restore peace in the entire Ebonyi State and all hands must be on deck to achieve the task of a peaceful Ebonyi State where love and unity reign supreme.
“Once again, our people are assured that government will not rest until total peace is restored in every part of the Local Government and Ukwagba Ngbo community in particular.”
On the attack, the Executive Chairman of Ado LGA of Benue State, Mr. James Oche who described the development as strange added that “I completely doubt if our people are involved.
“We are not aware of any crisis in Ebonyi. In recent times, we have had relative peace from this side of the divide. We are fully in control of our people and there has not been any reason why we should fear that our people have been involved in anything.
“It’s strange. This is strange and I completely doubt if our people are involved. I will get in touch with the security operatives under my control and get in touch with you. I want to say that I’m hearing this for the first time and I’m not aware that there’s an issue of insecurity around our borders.”
At the time of this report, several calls made to the phone lines of the State Commissioner of Police, CP Garba Aliyu, and the Command’s Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Chris Anyanwu were not responded to.
Gunmen invade Enugu bar, kill pregnant woman, vigilante member
During the gunmen invasion in Enugu where a pregnant woman and vigilante member were killed , the daredevils also shot a secondary school girl who is now receiving treatment in an undisclosed hospital.
It was gathered that the three hefty gunmen on masks stormed the relaxation centre around 8:00 pm on Saturday and ordered everybody to lie down.
The owner of the joint who also lives in the same compound where he is running the drinking joint sensed danger and escaped through the back door but his pregnant wife was not so lucky as the men pursued her into her kitchen and shot her dead.
A young man, whose name was given as Nonso, one of the vigilante members, who was having a good time at the joint tried to escape and was also shot dead.
The pregnant woman’s maidservant who was also helping out in the joint was shot in the leg and is now receiving treatment at a hospital.
Vanguard learnt that the gunmen had earlier gone into a compound inside Akwuke and demanded to see another young man but the man was not at home prompting them to come for the owner of the drinking joint, Felix Onyia, the immediate past councilor representing Akwuke ward at the Enugu South legislative assembly.
An eyewitness who claimed anonymity said he saw everything live.
“I was there and I saw everything. I asked the woman to prepare fish and I was drinking, waiting for the fish when we heard “lie down all of you”.
“Nwagod Onyia was sitting on the other side with Nonso, the vigilante man that was shot. When they told us to lie down, I quickly moved into one of the rooms and from there, I jumped through the window. They did not shoot me. It was later I learnt that they shot NwaGod’s wife and shot Nonso, the vigilante man. They also shot the girl that was serving in the bear palour,” he said.
He said that it was only God that saved him because he could have been shot. He pointed out that others who were at the drinking joint were not hurt because it seemed that they purposely came for the former councilor, Hon. Felix Onyia, alias NwaGod.
“The way they came straight to his house and shot his wife when he escaped is an indication that they came purposely for him,” a resident said.
He said that he wouldn’t know why they came for him but pointed out that something must have prompted the visit of the gunmen that came in a vehicle for the attack.
The Police Spokesman, Daniel Ndukwe, when contacted on phone in the morning demanded a message to allow him to address the issue quickly but till the time of filing this report after hours of sending a message both on WhatsApp and SMS, he has not replied.
“Please send me SMS to allow me to address it quickly,” Ndukwe asked.