By Vincent Ujumadu – Awka
Two persons from Achalla community in Awka North local government area of Anambra State are still missing following the recent communal clash between Achalla and their neighbouring community, Urum.
During the clash, some houses were burnt, while few others received machete cuts.
President General of Achalla, Mr Boniface Chigbo has gave the names of the missing persons as Obinna Okafor and Uchenna Okeke, while those who returned with machete cuts were Ezeoba Ejike and Chukwuma Egbeigwe, adding that they were kidnapped by their neighbours in a commando-style.
According to him, the suspicion of Achalla people was that the missing persons were being held hostage by their neighbours.
He also claimed that no indigene of Urum was being held hostage as alleged.
Chigbo insisted that the only remedy for peace between the two communities was for Urum to adhere to the treaty signed several years ago regarding the portion of land in dispute, which made their neighbours to be paying dues to them annually since 1920 when the said land was given to Urum on lease.
He said trouble began when they stopped payment of the dues in 1988, which made some of their youths to start claiming ownership of the land.
Chigbo said that in a manner that surprised everybody, Urum people started surveying the land and placing beacons, whereupon Achalla once again contested their claim.
He said: ” The cause of recent escalation was that the Awka North local government chairman expressed intent to meet with the two communities with a view to a peaceful resolution of the imbroglio between them and a meeting scheduled for Tuesday, the 23rd of June.
“Surprisingly, on Sunday the 21st of June Achalla community was besieged by a police detachment that came to make arrests in connection with the land tussle.
“The chairman was made aware of this development and he promised to reach the police to stop arrests and allow him to wade into the issue.
“He also promised to secure the release of those already arrested. By Monday the 22nd of June, Urum community blocked the expressway coming from Awka to Achalla and in the process apprehended an Achalla indigene who was returning from Awka in company with three others.
“A struggle ensued and he was summarily shot and killed. His name is Udeme Udobi. The others escaped with gunshot wounds to Achalla, and relayed the incident to the community. This clearly incensed the community.
“To the best of my knowledge, no Urum person is being held hostage in Achalla.
“Two of the kidnapped persons have returned with machete cuts, while the last two have not been seen till date.”
The state police command, however, said yesterday that it was not aware of any missing Achalla indigene in the crisis
The State Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Mohammed Haruna, however, said that investigation was still on going on the matter
He said that security operatives had been deployed to the warring communities to quell the tension in the area
He declined to say if there had been any arrest on both sides, stating that everything would be laid bare to the public after the command’s investigations.