Abia, Ebonyi border communities clash over quarry site
From Maurice Okafor.
The people of Amaeze Ishiagu community in Ivo local government of Ebonyi state have made a passionate appeal to the Federal government to salvage them from unjust intimidation, harrasment and brutality from some persons from Uru lokpanta Community, in Umuneochi local government area of Abia state, who are claiming ownership of their quarry granite site of recent.
The Amaeze Community claims that the boundry delineation between Ebonyi and Abia state clearly shows that the quarry site currently under comtemplation situates in Ebonyi state where they belong,lamenting that some people from Uru Lokpanta cummunity of Abia state have resorted to violence against their community in their quest to claim ownership of the site.
Briefing news men in Enugu on behalf of their people, the Amaeze Development Union [ADU] Chairman, Chief Paulinus Osita, mentioned an instance of “the brutal attack by miscreants” from Uru Lokpanta community as the man-handling of Mr Paul Ossi in his farm on March 28 this year, stating that the assailants after beating him to stupor, left him in a state of coma, with a thought that he was dead. But miraculously, Mr Ossi overcame his state of unconsciousness and got help from good Samaritans.
ADU said the Uru Lokpanta Youths often mount illegal road blocks through which they assault and extort money from Ishiagu women stating that a 67 year – old woman, Mrs Maria Aroh was among the victims of the evil plot.
The Secretary, Mr Ukah Chukwuma while corroborating the ADU chairman’s statement added that there were instances of snatching of motorcycles, harassment and seizure of commodities of Amaeze community members by alleged thugs and miscreants from Uru Lokpanta community.
ADU stated, “We address this conference to first, dismiss the allegations of brutality against the Nigeria Army , and the baseless, unfounded, puerile and provocative claims of a renegade faction of the people of Uru Lokpanta community in Umuneochi Local Government Area of Abia State. The above has become necessary as a lie constantly told on a sustained basis may soon assume an appearance of the truth.
“The site of the granite quarry currently operated by Yiter Quarry Nigeria Ltd and its environs is exclusively within Amaeze community. This statement of fact is neither novel nor unfounded. This has been the position at all material times since the days of yore until presently.
“The delineation of the boundaries between Abia State and Ebonyi State further corroborate this fact. What is more, on the 5th day of February 2003, the Executives of Uru Improvement Union and the Amaeze Development Union, arising from a meeting, jointly issued a memorandum wherein the leaders of Uru-Lokpanta community stated that the land whereon Setraco Nig. Ltd operated its granite quarry belonged exclusively to Amaeze-Ishiagu community.
“On the 25th of October 2008, the agreement was duly executed by officials of Setraco Nig. Ltd and the leaders and the accredited representatives of the Uru-Lokpanta community where it was expressly conceded that the agreement was limited to a section of the access road belonging to Uru-Lokpanta community. It was also stated in the agreement that the quarry site does not belong to Uru-Lokpanta but to Amaeze-Ishiagu. Upon the execution of this agreement, copies of the agreement were stamped, filed and registered at the Magistrates Court of Abia State, Umuneochi on the 27th day of October 2008′.
“From these documents and more that support Amaeze-Ishiagu’s sole ownership of the land hosting the quarry site, we are surprised by the claim of certain individuals in Uru-Lokpanta community to the quarry. The only reasonable explanation we can conjecture is the handiwork of fifth-columnists sponsored by a renegade faction of the leadership of Uru-Lokpanta community who are bent to cause crisis with a view to benefitting therefrom.
“Uru-Lokpanta community was never at any time, the landlord or lessor to Setraco Nig. Ltd which operated the quarry site for a period of over 2 decades. It is true that Amaeze-Ishiagu community being the undisputed owner and landlord of the quarry site, executed a leasehold agreement with Setraco Nig. Ltd.
“It is interesting to note that it is the same quarry operated by Setraco Nig. Ltd that Yiter Quarry Nig. Ltd, now operates also as a rent-paying tenant to Amaeze-Ishiagu community.
“It is in this light that the crisis being fermented by misguided elements, renegades and revisionists masquerading as youths of Uru-Lokpanta community is nothing short of mischief by economic buccaneers, seeking to reap from crises.
Since the month of November 2017 till date, the campaign of terror by these individuals from Uru-Lokpanta against our people has been sustained. There have been reported cases of threats by gun wielding youths against Amaeze-Ishiagu farmers, who after harassing and driving the farmers away from their farmlands, unlawfully confiscate harvested farm produce. These same Uru-Lokpanta bandits also engaged in snatching motorcycles of indigents of Amaeze community.
ADU stressed it desire burning desire for urgent intervention by the authorities concerned expressing fears that the situation if unchecked now, might get out of control.
“Gentlemen of the press, we want to finally call on President Mohammadu Buhari, the Minister of Solid Minerals, Mines and Steel Development, the National Boundary Commission, and other relevant stakeholders to intervene by sounding a definite note of warning to Uru-Lokpanta to desist from this criminal adventurism which can sabotage and compromise the economy of the nation”.
However, a group from Uru -Lokpanta community operating under the aegis of ‘Uru Improvement Union’ has also accused the people of Amaeze Ishiagu community in Ivoh local government area of Ebonyi state, as the ones stirring crisis in the area,while also laying claims as the authentic owners of the quarry site.
The Secretary General,Uru Improvement Union,Mr Chukwudi Ikwu, was quoted in one of the national dailies of accusing Amaeze Ishiagu community to have truncated the embargo placed on the sale of granite from the still controversial quarry.
They made claims that the murder of the late Ikedichukwu Christian Egwu allegedly by a soldier on security mission at the troubled area was gingered by people from Amaeze Community.The Uru -Lokpanta people are also hoping on the intervention of the higher authorities in the ownership squabble of the quarry site.”
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