COMMUNITY ACCUSES ABIA STATE GOVERNMENT OF NEGLECT AS THEY FAIL TO PROTECT ITS PEOPLE FROM ATTACKS FROM NEIGHBORING COMMUNITY
“The absence of government intervention has made us to wonder if we are still citizens of this state”.
Chinwe Ugele, Umuahia
The displaced people of Isu in Arochukwu LGA of Abia state after several months of fruitless expectations on the Abia state government to intervene in a lingering communal clash between them and those of Utuma in Biase in Cross Rivers State, have pointed accusing fingers at the government of Okezie Ikpeazu for complete neglect and abandonment.
The people are lamenting what they call continued invasion and occupation of their land by their neighbors of Utuma community in Biase Local Government Area of Cross River State while the Abia state government looks away.
Isu people have been chased out of their community by the Utuma people several months ago, leaving families displaced, relatives killed while some disappeared.
Most people from this community ran for their lives following attacks from their neighbours which had resulted to the death of some people and destruction of their homes, farmlands, etc.
Isu people even though not troubled by terrorists or herdsmen, have become refugees in the neighboring towns within their council area.
While some took refuge in the churches, others found relatives and friends to squat with, even as some rented apartments to live for God knows how long.
It’s been self efforts all these while with non governmental organizations donating foodstuffs, clothing, and some other household items for their upkeep.
Government has not deemed it fit to know how they are sheltered having been displaced from their homes by those who plan to take away everything they have and occupy their land.
The clashes remain unabated and the government is not showing enough concerns. Recently, one of their sons, Okoro Ukwaa was murdered by persons suspected to be their Biase neighbours.
In this renewed attack, property worth millions of Naira were also destroyed in the community last Friday by suspected gunmen from the neighboring Utuma community.
Former Secretary to the State Government (SSG) , Mazi Donatus Okorie, berated the state government for the situation, accusing it of total abandonment and insensitivity to their plight.
Okorie said that since the attack on the community on 18th April 2018 which was done without any provocation by their neighboring community and their cronies, that their Isu community has not known peace.
He said that the latest attack which happened on the 15th of February 2019 claimed the life of one of their illustrious son Ukwaa, who was murdered in cold blood while he was at his farm.
The former SSG said, “The latest cold blooded murder in all intents and purposes is the most atrocious, devastating, and tragic, the clan is in a state of absolute melancholy, we want to use this medium to appeal to the government to come to our aid”.
Okorie said that the attacks which have been consistent have left over 15,000 people from five different communities homeless, while farm lands have been left desolate. ”
“As we speak, those people are still scattered across the area in various locations as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) with their homes and farmlands abandoned without any hope of returning there soon”.
He said that the situation the community has found themselves will have a serious effect during the forthcoming general election, stressing that it is time for the state government to take decisive action to save the situation in Isu land.
Okoie said that the invaders action may not be unconnected with their intention to annex the clan because of its large limestone deposit, explaining that the government’s continued silence over their plight was not helping matters.
He said that the two warring communities have large deposits of limestone which Utuma have been tapping their own and are now desirous of annexing Isu community to boost their limestone production.
Explaining further about the communities, he insisted that, “The government has not given it enough vive for it to stop. The people of Iheosu, Aba-Isu, Amachi-Isu, Ndi Ugbor, and Aliose are currently no longer living in their homes”.
The embattled clan proposed the establishing of a permanent police post in the clan to end the crisis before it escalates further, adding that they had made a formal complain and written petitions over the matter to the police to no avail.
Okorie said that if government had taken action before now, “What has happened to our community and the killing of our great son would not have taken place, we are pleading that government should come over and help us”.
Similarly, a Special Adviser to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, on Grassroots and Youth Mobilization, Hon Tony Kalu, wondered why the government had kept quiet over the matter, decrying the neglect of the clan in terms of employment and development.
The Police Public Relation Officer (PPRO) of the state command, Geoffrey Ogbonna said that the command is not aware of the recent killing of Ukwaa, but admitted that they are aware of the tension in the area which they are handling.