By Vincent Ujumadu, Awka
Adazi-Nnukwu, a sleepy community in Awka, the state capital of Anambra state is in pains. When information came to Anambra State last week that many people of Igbo extraction residing in the northeastern town of Mubi in Adamawa State were killed by members of the infamous Boko Haram sect, the people of Adazi-Nnukwu community never imagined that 13 indigenes of the community were among those killed.
Members of the dreaded sect had sprayed bullets on a group of people holding a meeting at Mubi. The said meeting was convened by members of Adazi-Nnukwu Town Union in Mubi to plan the burial ceremony of their member, Mr. Simeon Aso killed earlier by the sect while relaxing with a friend in the town.
It was gathered that midway into the meeting, trigger-happy members of Boko Haram swooped on the people and gunned down 12 of them instantly. That incident caused a chain reaction as the meeting ended abruptly and those who survived narrated the story to the families of the deceased members.
According to a survivor who managed to come back home, all the Igbos residing in the town had to seek refuge into the police barracks for fear of being exterminated.
“We started hearing many gunshots through the windows,” said Okey , 48, who attended the meeting. “Everyone scampered for safety, but the gunmen chanted: ‘God is great, God is great’ while shooting at us.”Okey said he hid under a table and escaped from a back door.
The gunmen also carried knives and machetes and in less than 24 hours after the incident, the various families back home in Anambra State had received the information, thus turning the Adazi -Nnukwu community into mourning.
Some of the families that lost people were Obiakonwa family, which lost one person; Aso family, which lost one person; Aghachi whose only son was killed; Aforka whose family member was killed along with their sister- in- law and Mgbemena family which also lost one person.
When Saturday Vanguard visited the community, it was like a ghost town as even the Afor Adazi-Nnukwu market was virtually empty with many people paying condolence visits to the bereaved families.
Churches in the town and other parts of the state have also been praying for the repose of the souls of those who lost their lives to the sectarian killings in Mubi and other parts of the North.
Apart from Adazi-Nnukwu, the neighbouring community of Agulu, which is Governor Peter Obi’s home town, lost two at the Mubi killings, while some other communities in Anambra State also recorded loss of their people. Some Igbos who have managed to return to the East said the official figure reported as the casualties was much less than the actual number of people who died.
Emmanuel Aso, a relation of Semeon who was the first victim of the massacre whose burial arrangement caused the death of others, said at Adazi that the family had earlier urged his late brother to return when the threat by members of Boko Haram started. “If only he had listened to us, he would have been alive today,” Emmanuel said.
Another indigene of the community and member representing Anaocha 1 Constituency in the State House of Assembly, Mr. Ebele Ejiofor told Saturday Vanguard that when the casualty figure from Adazi alone was made known, the entire community was thrown into confusion.
“Can you imagine what it means for a community to lose 13 of its people one day in far away Adamawa State through such an ugly situation?” According to him, many of them are well to do people in the community, adding that the loss was just too much to bear.
Barely 24 hours after the incident, Igbo residents in Mubi sent an Save –Our-Soul, SOS, to their people back home to find a way of rescuing them, saying they were trapped in the Northern part of the country. In the message relayed through their member, Mr. Anthony Ezenwakwe, who is already back home in Anambra, the people said they were finding it difficult to get means of transportation to convey them to the East.
Following the message from Ezenwakwe, Ejiofor who represents the constituency in the Anambra State House of Assembly called on the federal and state governments to protect the lives and property of his people from further unlawful killing and destruction of property.
According to the Anambra lawmaker, “many families in my constituency whose relations are residing in Mubi and other parts of the North have been making enquires on the situation in the North. We are confused as to what to tell them since the reports coming from that part of the country were frightening. My plea is that government should do something immediately to arrest this ugly development because human lives are involved.”
Though the Ezeigbo in the area, Chief Malachy Agbazue was said to have been liaising with the Lamido Mubi, Alhaji Issa Amaodu to ensure that no further killings take place, the people from the Southern part of the country were believed to be still apprehensive and were eager to return home. It was gathered that Lamido has been assisting those who fled their homes financially, while waiting for further action from government.
Back home, Governor Obi was making efforts to contact his colleague in Adamawa, Governor Muritala Nyako to discuss how to end the killings and evacuate Anambra indigenes in that state who want to return to the East such that before the call by the Anambra lawmaker, Governor Obi was already in touch with the Adamawa governor.
According to Obi, “the governors of the South-East had done a lot regarding the killings of Igbos in the northern part of the country, and if people expected the governors to start shouting and inciting people because of he situation in the North, it would amount to causing more chaos in the country.”
He said: “I want to assure Ndi Anambra and all South-Easterners resident in the North, especially the troubled areas that the governors of the South-East are very much concerned about what they have had to endure. We are working round the clock with the governors and the leadership of the North on ways to ensure that the killings do not continue.
“Our people in Adamawa State had already met with the governor of the State on the unfortunate development in the State. Even yesterday’s night (Tuesday) around 12:30 pm, I spoke at length with the Governor of Adamawa State, who himself is saddened over the development.
“Igbo blood cannot be continuously spilled unnecessarily and we are committed to ensure that. To those from other parts of the country residing in the South-East, we call on you to remain calm and law-abiding. We are in touch with security agencies to ensure the safety of everyone.
“We must commend the efforts of the Federal Government. It is really not easy confronting suicide bombers, who are ready to bring the roof down on everybody, including themselves. The situation therefore calls for understanding. The measures taken so far, including the imposition of state of emergency in the hottest spots in the country, are reassuring. However, we urge the Federal Government to still do more.”
Reacting to the killings, General Mohammed Buba Marwa( retd ), CPC governorship candidate in the January 14 elections had opined that the killings in Mubi and Yola are politically motivated by the ruling government in Adamawa State in its efforts to stay beyond January 2012 .
He said the violence should not be ascribed to Boko Haram. Marwa wondered why “these killings are happening now, just a few days to the elections”.
According to the former military administrator of Lagos state, “these desperate measures manifest clearly in the recent statement of the PDP that my party, the CPC has perfected a design to rig the forthcoming election. No one however believed the party because everyone knows who the master rigger is as far as elections are concerned in this country”.
Marwa alleged that , “the aim of the ruling government is to further divide the state according to religious lines between Muslims and Christians and our great party CPC and to claim that it is the handiwork of Boko Haram. Unfortunately for the ruling party, Boko Haram which always claims responsibility for its actions did not claim responsibility for this action. This is not a Boko Haram action”