BY ANAYO OKOLI
THE fragile peace in the war-torn Aguleri and Umuleri communities in Anambra East Council of Anambra State is being threatened as the former joined issues with the latter over alleged land encroachment.
Umuleri had recently, through Mr. George Obukwesili, accused Aguleri of encroaching on their Aguakor land and threatened that “if the state and federal governments should close their eyes and allow this gun powder to explode, the 1995-1999crisis will be a child’s play”.
Aguleri dismissed the allegation, saying it was rather Umuleri community that had unceremoniously withdrawn from a peace committee set up by the two communities since 2004 to resolve all the land issues between them.
In a statement in Umuahia by Chief Ralph Igwa, Chairman of Aguleri Peace Committtee, he denied that there is “palpable tension between the two communities.”
Igwa said the impression “does not reflect the current situation in the area and it is inconsistent with the facts regarding the present state of the relationship between the two communities”.
He however regretted that Umuleri pulled out of the peace committee without any reason and resorted to using the police to harass Aguleri people, which, he said, was “capable of engendering renewed tension between the two erstwhile hostile communities”.
He urged Umuleri to return to the peace committee to enable the communities thrash out the disagreement between them.
“ The truth is that the two communities having failed to resolve their age-long dispute through courts, tribunals or third party mediations, took a bold peace initiative in 2004 by deciding to peacefully settle their problem by themselves. And so, in March, 2004, the two communities set up the Aguleri/Umuleri Peace Committee with mandate to determine acceptable boundaries between Aguleri and Umuleri communities”, Igwa said.
According to him, the committee worked till 2004 till 2010 “when the Umuleri representatives in the committee [allegedly] suddenly pulled out without any formal reason till date”.
Aguleri therefore accused Umuleri of aborting the peace process and called on them to return to the committee to discuss any matter that may be threatening the peace of the communities, even as they warned the police not to allow themselves to be misused by Umuleri.