Fresh twist on the Idumuje Ugboko crises

Members of DELTA FRESH VISION, an NGO committed to social justice, peace and good governance recently watched an AIT programme on the morning of 22nd August 2020 anchored by Osasu Igbinedion and Madaki Christopher.

The programme had as guests, chief Christopher Ogwu, the Iyase (or Traditional Prime Minister) of Idumuje Ugboko, Prince Walter Eziashi, a former President-General of the community, Nelson Iloh, the son of Kennedy Iloh who was murdered in the Idumuje Ugboko mayhem, and a certain man, who is a relation of Cyprian Kumiolu, the motorcyclist who was senselessly murdered in the course of the Idumuje Ugboko crisis.

The above television guests who apparently were invited to have a balanced account of the communal crisis, in turn, gave a vivid account of the crisis in Idumuje Ugboko.

Chief Christopher Ogwu, the Iyase of the community went memory lane to recount how he and other leaders in Idumuje Ugboko resolved to move the town from a rural agrarian community to a development based community.

According to him, the opportunity came when Prince Ned Nwoko approached the community leadership then led by the late Obi, HRM Albert Nwoko III for a parcel of land to establish a Sports University and an International Golf Course.

After a vigorous screening of the land quest, the Land Allocation Committee approved a 90-hectare piece of land to Prince Ned Nwoko through his company LINAS INTERNATIONAL LIMITED.

However, in order to protect the interest of Idumuje Ugboko children yet unborn, the Land Allocation Committee together with the Izu Ani (Committee of Elders) decided to issue a Memorandum of Understanding to the effect that the community will have a 40% equity in the university project and the golf course to which Prince Ned Nwoko agreed.

Chief Christopher Ogwu debunked insinuations that they were coerced or compromised to give out Idumuje Ugboko land to Prince Ned Nwoko.

On his part, Prince Walter Eziashi, a Chieftain of Idumuje Ugboko and former President-General of the community traced the genesis of the crisis to a forged letter claiming that the former Obi, HRM Albert Nwoko had repudiated an earlier letter of approval of land to Prince Ned Nwoko for development purposes.

According to Prince Eziashi, both letters, the letter of approval and the alleged forged letter were subjected to Police investigation which found out that the letter repudiating the approved land was a forgery.

Prince Eziashi also debunked allegations that Prince Ned Nwoko forcefully seized lands from the locals stating that the parcels of land under question was set aside since 1969 for developmental purposes and did not belong to farmers as alleged by some “elites in diaspora” who did not know the location of the land in question as they do not come home and have no stake in the development of the Idumuje Ugboko community.

Nelson Iloh gave a startling revelation on how his father, Kennedy Iloh was brutally murdered in the Idumuje Ugboko mayhem.

He stated that his father was the secretary of the Idumuje Ugboko Land Allocation Committee which approved the parcel of land for Prince Ned Nwoko in respect of the Stars University and golf course.

He said on account of his father’s support for development, his father was attacked, stripped naked and beaten allegedly on the orders of Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko.

His father, Kennedy Iloh died as a result of the beating. Nelson Iloh also revealed that there was a barbaric order to cut off the hands of his father to prevent him from using his hands to write again.

Nelson Iloh further confirmed that his father was denied a burial in Idumuje Ugboko with the claim that his family had been banished from Idumuje Ugboko and thus they could not bury their late father in the community.

The relation of the murdered motorcyclist, Cyprian Kumiolu who was also a guest in the AIT programme also commented on how his relative was killed. Cyprian Kumiolu merely dropped off a passenger in the Palace and on the allegation that he was a spy, Cyprian was lynched right in the palace, his body dismembered and carted away in a wheelbarrow to an unknown destination. 

Although the murder of Cyprian Kumiolu is still under Police investigation, his body is yet to be found even till this day. The Police concluded their investigations on the Idumuje Ugboko murders a long time ago.

Those who wreaked havoc on Idumuje Ugboko in 2017 were charged with terrorism and the trial is ongoing. Those allegedly involved in the murders have been charged appropriately including Prince Nonso Nwoko, Prince Uwadiegwu Nwoko and Okey Ifejoku.

The AIT television comperes advised the community to settle the crisis amicably to which Prince Eziashi responded that there are 8 subsisting cases in court begging for justice and about 8 failed peace meetings already.

Fred Akpewe  (Vanguard)