THE reconciliation committee set up by Anambra State Government to look into the bloody Allah-Onugwa – Odekpe land dispute took a positive turn as the committee handed over Odekpe Igwe elect, Peter Ikechi and Ekene Godwin secured on bail to their people.
No fewer than 10 persons were feared dead, while a police officer attached to Nzam Police Station declared missing by the police authorities, following a hostility that erupted from a land dispute between Allah-Onugwa community in Anambra West Local Government Area of Anambra State and their neighboring community, Odekpe also in the same council area of the state.
At the last count, while Allah-Onugwa community is claiming that they have so far lost about seven persons to the war, excluding five others who they alleged were abducted during the hostilities that lasted between April and June, this year, Odekpe also claimed to have lost an unspecified number of its indigenes to the clash.
Police authorities arrested some indigenes of Odekpe community, including its igwe-elect, Peter Ikechi for their alleged involvement in the missing of a police officer attached to Nzam Police Division.
To forestall further hostilities, the state government set up an eight-man peace committee to look into the crisis with a view to resolving it amicably and the committee had already swung into action to discharge its civic responsibilities without fear or favour.
The committee is headed by traditional ruler of Igbariam , Anambra East Local Government Area, Igwe Dr. Nzekwe Kelly, with Dr. Emma Ude-Akpeh, the Permanent Secretary, Office of the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) as its secretary.
Other members of the committee included; Chinedu Obidigwe, representing Anambra East/West in the National Assembly, Udoba, representing Anambra West in the state House of Assembly and traditional rulers of Mmiata-Anam, Igwe Nnose; his Owelle Ancient Kingdom counterpart, Igwe Anthony Onyekwele and that of Ukwalla community, Igwe Ajodo.
At the weekend, the committee invited representatives of the two warring communities at the palace of Igwe Kelly of Igabriam, chairman of the committee and informed them that the committee has been able to secure the release of those from Odekpe community arrested by the IGP’s Intelligence Response Team and detained in Abuja in connection with the missing police officer.
The committee therefore handed the two Odekpe persons just released by the police, Ekene Godwin and Peter Ikechi over to their Odekpe kinsmen with a condition that others in detention would be later released if hostilities seize in the area, henceforth.
Handing over the duo to Augustine Anara, a stakeholder from Odekpe, Igwe Kelly disclosed that one of the conditions given to the committee by both the police authorities and the state government was that there should be no more hostility in the area.
Also speaking, Ude-Akpeh, the committee secretary stated that on the process of trying to secure the release of the detained Odekpe indigenes, the committee discovered that their arrests were not prompted by a petition from Allah/Onugwa opponents but petitions from the family of the missing police officer and his people to the presidency begging for assistance to recover the officer.
A member of the committee, Igwe Onyekwele of Owelle kingdom disclosed that during the hostility, Odekpe people at a point, abducted the Divisional Police Officer at Nzam and some policemen, took them into the bush and stripped them off their AK-47 but he had to quickly dispatched some vigilante personnel from Owelle Kingdom who rushed to the scene and rescued three officers (DPO and two Inspectors) and their AK-47.
Before the handover of the released Odekpe indigenes, the committee had taken the stakeholders from both warring communities to Igwe Kelly’s Ofala Arena where Igwe Kelly himself and chief priests of four different shrines administered them on oath before the shrines not to enter the disputed land until the reconciliation committee restores peace between both communities.
Ikechi, the Igwe-elect of Odekpe told the committee that he was arrested by men of the IRT at Nteje/Awkuzu Junction, along Enugu/Onitsha Expressway mid June, from the reconciliatory meeting, detained at Area Command, Onitsha, and whisked off to Abuja the next day and detained until the Igwe Kelly-led committee came and secured his bail between last day of June and first day of July, adding that during his detention, the police did not maltreat him in any manner.
Responding, Christian Akubueze from Allah/Onugwa and Augustine Anara from Odekpe commended the committee for their efforts so far in trying to resolve the dispute and pledged to inform their people to remain peaceful until the dispute is resolved amicably.