God, the almighty creator in his infinite wisdom made all things, man, inclusive not to be equal in various dimension. While some are relatively bigger than others, the others are equally smaller than others.
This has been the origin of master-servant relation (Generally called slavery/serfdom as it is called in Russia of yesteryears and other nations of the world.
This also applied in the case Amechi – Uwani Awkunanaw, Enugu and Ugwuaji Community, both in Awkunanaw Enugu.
It is also not uncommon that as years come and go, the fortunes of man tend to change in one way or the other, however, there remains the haves and have nots. The other way, the have-nots are moved to seek safety under the haves and become their servants, not free-borns, so it was in every society worldwide and this led to the persistent protests of the 1924 and 1925, by their predecessors.
THE CASE OF UGWUAJI AND AMECHI – UWANI AWKUNANAW, ENUGU
As narrated in the course of introduction, many haves (relatively rich men then, were able to acquire one or more servants – known as NdiObia) and this, no one can explain the origin or exact date or year it started, but however, history has it that with time, these servants had good relationship with masters and vice – versa.
In the case of Amechi – Uwani and Ugwuaji, sometime in 1924, there were pockets of protests and riots by the non – free borns against their continued stay under their masters. There was a wide spread of this protests and uprising in many communities within and outside Awkunanaw. In 1925, there was yet another of such protests by the non – free borns who may have been liberated/settled by their erstwhile masters, but the both – free borns and non – free borns continued to live together, but not inter – marrying.
The then divisional officers and assistant divisional officers then made series of interventions each time this kind of uprising arose through the law enforcement agencies, after which there would be dialogue between – the free born and the non – free borns, which most often succeeded in arriving at a temporary agreements which however never lasted. Until 1928, the agitation of the non – free born seemed to have come to conclusion and the non – free borns were given leave to choose where they want to migrate to, so that they would live independently from the free born and then become completed liberated.
There again arose an issue arose as to whether the erstwhile master would approve their choices. However, these non – free born were obliged a place/portion called Ugwuaji, the portion so ceded to them had no known name then, however, it was later named after a specie of a tree called “AJI”, which up till date stands on top of a small hilly area, hence the name Ugwuaji community and which marks the boundary limited the trespass of other surroundings parcels of land bordering Ugwuaji.
Another factor which informed the choice of the said portion is the presence of a stream known as and called “AFA” stream which supplied the Ugwuaji community with good drinking water. It is very important to observe at this point that the movement of the now known people of Ugwuaji was not automatic, but gradual.
The “AJI” tree from which the name was derived is also the limit – i.e. the point where the community was meant to stop , the rest of the land mass between the said “AJI” tree to a point known as and called “Ugwu Osu” belongs to the people of Amechi – Uwani Awkunanaw Enugu exclusively prior to Government acquisition.
For further, clarification, the said land in question spans from the said “AJI” tree, the Republic layout, the new building material market, the new independence layout – phase II which comprised Ugwu Osu and Otutu Inyi, being the boundary between Amechi – Uwani Awkunanaw and the Ogui – Nike community.
The implication of the aforesaid state of things/facts go to show that the Amechi – Uwani Awkunanaw people have a boundary point with Ugwuaji Awkunanaw from the Afa stream herein before mentioned, then while the Amechi Awkunanaw community have boundary with Ogui Nike community from the said Aji tree to Ugwu Osu, that is the parcel of land covering the space from the Aji tree through the Republic layout, building material market, Independent Layout phase II comprised of Ugwu Osu and yet another parcel of land known as and called OTUTU – INYI.
This said Otutu Inyi parcel of land belongs to a given family from Umuedenta Kindred of Amechi – Uwani. This was an issue of legal battle of between Ugwuaji v. Ogui – Nike and Amechi Uwani – Uwani, Awkunanaw Enugu Local Government Area as co-defendants, in Suit NO; E/439/2005 pending at the Enugu State High Court.
Mr. Chairman sir, permit us to revisit some of the reports which formed part of the communication between the then District officers of the then Enugu and Onitsha provinces with respects to the movement of the Ugwuaji from Amechi Awkunanaw to the present day Ugwuaji community thus:
In one of the reports wherein one A.D.O. – Assistant Divisional Officer then resident at Agbani to District Officer Enugu dated 09/02/28, He – A.F.D. Bridges A.D.O., Agbani to the District officer Enugu District – Mr. J.G. Lawton. Permit me to quote, his exact statement in the aforesaid report titled, PETITION FROM AKEGBE, at paragraph 6 of the said report, he wrote and we do hereby quote him thus:
“with regard to the complaint about lack of water,
It will be seen from the attached map that the AFA stream
Bounds the whole of one side and there was good clear water in it in… the site is also bordered by the INE Stream…”
Sir, we have herewith annexed the said map as EXH. “A” to further show that the limits of the parcel of land which the free born/Amadi, had magnanimously ceded to the Ndi Obia for you to appreciate all these statement of facts already set down so far.
In the said report of 09/02/28, it was clearly stated that at paragraph 6 by A.D.O. Agbani, he made a categorical, unequivocal statement and both the free borns and non – free borns were satisfied with respect to the limit of the parcel of land ceded to the non – free borns in the free – free borns in the following statement thus:
Late Chief Ezeoha Nwonah’simmediate family of Amechi – Uwani, Awkunanaw and the people of Ugwuaji, in the said Suit No.: E/439. The said late Chief Ezeoha Nwonah’s family of Amechi – Uwani , Awkunanaw was given judgment, and the judgment creditors above are now in full possession of same, exercising all acts of ownership thereto.
If this were to be the case as it is, the million questions is, if Ugwuaji the owner of these areas mentioned, since that also forms the boundary between Amechi Awkunanaw with Ogui Nike and not Ugwuaji and Ogui Nike of which the Ogui Nike community can attest to.
The good people of Amechi – Uwani are using this forum to state without any form of equivocation that the parcel of land wherein is situate the federal government college Enugu also belongs to Amechi Awkunanaw , including substantial part of the University of Nigeria Enugu prior to the acquisition of these areas by the federal government, the people of Amechi Awkunanaw were in an undisturbed possession/ occupation of same and exercising effective act of ownership of same parcels of land by cultivation and the harvesting of economic trees therein.
“On 10/01/28, having viewed the site and that selected by
the Amadi being far way and apparently already in dispute
with the Ogui Nike, they were told to propose another site
close to good water. They then after much argument, selected
a site bordered by the AFA stream and at one end, actually
touching the site selected by the “NdiObia” themselves.
After some quibbling, “NdiObia” elders and headmen said
they were satisfied”.
Then by the 11/01/28, he continued thus:
“I walked over the land with both parties and NdiObia
elders and headmen again said they were satisfied, they were
asked how long they wanted the move and after consultation,
said “six months” the Amadi were inclined to think this too
long but eventually agreed, under persuasion…”
Informed by the facts stated above, the large heart and humanness of the free born were clearly manifested because in line with the aforesaid reports, the non – free borns were given all the opportunity to pick and choose a site comfortable to them. It will be uncommon to state here that the people of the present day Ugwuaji merely decided to jettison the real history of how the movement of their forefathers came to inhabit this place called Ugwuaji, following from the ingratitude and greed, they have taken the decision to trespass the land of the free borns claiming same as forming part of the land given to them through the intervention of the A.D.Os and D.Os.
The good people of Amechi – Uwani Awkunanaw do hereby state clear and unequivocal terms that immediately after the Aji tree, the remaining part from the Aji tree, we do not have any common boundary with Ugwuaji, but with Ogui Nike up to Ugwu Osu including a parcel of land known as and called OTUTU – INYI down to independence layout i.e. Federal Government College Enugu, Condor layout, Kenyatta market up to Eastern Nigerian College, Ogbuodo etc. We pray God to give you the strength and courage to come up with the clear and unbiased report without undue influence from any quarters irrespective of whose Ox is gored.
As the name of this board seem to suggest, Administrative board of inquiry into Ugwuaji Land dispute. It could mean that no one/body who/which is not from Ugwuaji is expected to submit a memorandum. However, we, the good people of Amechi – Uwani Awkunanaw to act timely before our own land is ceded to Ugwuaji as this action of ours will help this board immensely in determining which area or the other belongs to the warring parties in the autonomous communities that make up Ugwuaji, that is to say, Amechi – Ugwuaji and the Obeagu – Ugwuaji over boundary delimitation and which for a while now has become a recurring decimal.
If the line of our thinking in the above paragraph is correct, we suggest that for the sake of lasting and permanent peace to be restored in Ugwuaji on one hand and the immediate boundary neighbors of Ugwuaji, Amechi – Uwani and Ogui Nike.
We do hereby annex the necessary documents that we think shall be of immense help to the board, such as the various memos between the then District and Provincial Officers of Enugu district and the then Onitsha province and most importantly, the unchallenged survey map clear showing the delimitation of the parcel of land then ceded to the people of Ugwuaji by the good people of Amechi – Uwani.
- It is of most importance to Amechi – Uwani that thid Board settles forever the boundary issue between the three communities of Amechi – Uwani, Ogui Nike and Ugwuaji.
- That the people of Ugwuaji – Amechi and Ugwuaji – Obeagu have been in perpetual dispute over parcel of land which belong to the Law – abiding people of Amechi – Uwani by virtue of this, what the good people of Amechi – Uwani is by implication placing a caveat to the general public over their land mass situate between Ugwuaji delimitated by Ugwu Osu which actually form the boundary between Amechi – Uwani and Ogui – Nike.
- That we the people of Amechi – Uwani is in the knowing of the fact that the people of Ogui – Nike and Ugwuaji are still even as at the time of filing this memo.
- That the Amechi – Uwani community has taken an unequivocal stand not to appear before this present board following from the fact that too many similar boards were set up in the recent past whose recommendations never found any solution with respect to this perpetual Ugwuaji land dispute.
- That Amechi – Uwani Awkunanaw community Enugu will continue to pursue the suit between Ugwuaji VS. Ogui – Nike, Ogui currently pending at the High court of Enugu State in suit No: e/439/2015 over this same issue of boundary de For the avoidance of any speculations on this issue, see the recommendation of Enugu State BOUNDARY COMMISSION of the 27th day of May 2015, headed by the then Deputy Governor – Hon. Ralph Ifeanyichukwu Nwoye and the then chief Scribe was Elder S.U. Ugwu at page B31- B41 of the years Gazettes.
His Excellency Rt. Hon. IFEANYICHUKWU UGWUANYI
- EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR ENUGU STATE.
- ENUGU STATE BOUNDARY COMMISSION.
- CHIEF, JAMES IKENYI(SAN) (Panel Chairman)
- DSS (Abuja)
- National Human Right Commission
- Public Complaint Commission
- Senate Committee on Public Commission
- Attorney General of the Federation
Date this ……………..day of ………………………2020.