By Esther Onyegbula
Fear has now gripped Iggah community in Enugu State as gunmen armed with dangerous weapons like Ak 4 invaded the village on three occasions killing no fewer than four of its prominent leaders. Those who were killed were the President General of the community, Mr. Rapheal Amuche,58, David Nwabisi Anikwe, Vice Chairman, Iggah Neighborhood Watch and Chairman, PCRC, Adani police and Herbert Igwebuike Anene a.k.a Okala.
An indigene of the community who preferred anonymity told Crime Guard that in early February this year, Herbert Anene was relaxing in front of his house with a friend, Daniel Okonkwo when members of the killer gang came on a motorcycle and focused the blinding headlamp of the motorcycle at the two persons before opening fire on them with their AK47.
Herbert Anene was said to have collapsed and was rolling on the ground until he died. His counterpart, Okonkwo had his two legs completely destroyed by bullets while he bled to death. Having confirmed that their mission has been accomplished, the killers escaped into the darkness through the bush path. Those who ran away during the shooting came back and met the blood drenched lifeless bodies of Anene and Okonkwo.
On the 17th of February, 2022, the killers struck again, this time at a neighboring town, Adani where Vice Chairman Iggah neighborhood watch and Chairman, Police Community Relations Committee, PCRC, David Anikwe lived.
They monitored him as he was relaxing in front of his house and came on motorcycles and started shooting him at close range with AK47. He fell down and died while his killers zoomed off with their motorcycle. Sons of the victim however saw and recognized the killers. The news spread to Igga and fear engulfed the communities.
According to the eyewitness, the killers came again on April 2, at about 9.30pm and killed the President General of Igga Town Union, Raphael Amuche. He was said to be in the bathroom located beside his house without knowing that members of the killer gang were hiding in the dark plantation who then opened fire on him. He fell down and they ran away on foot, disappearing in the dark night. He was rushed to the hospital at Adani where he died at 11.30pm the same night.
The traditional ruler of Igga community, Igwe Herbert Ukuta, Agbarakat the 111 told Crime Guard that fears has gripped members of the communities where the killers operated. He said he had raised alarm over threat to his life and some of his subjects by the killer gang alleging that those that carried out the killings were earlier indicted by the community and Enugu state government for selling their community lands. The monarch confirmed that four members of his community have been killed while many others were still on the watch list of the land sellers, who he also accused of promoting local wars between Iggah and Ojor communities in the council area.
According to him, “trouble started when one of those alleged to be part of those selling community lands in Iggah died in custody due to protracted cancer of the lungs he was treating before his arrest. The deceased’s elder brother then vowed with his brothers to avenge his death by killing and those who allegedly accused their late brother of land sale.
Giving more details into the land crisis, Igwe Ukuta who claimed he have since gone into hiding for fear of his life said: “three years ago, a group of my subjects sold community land and some parts of land belonging to our neighboring communities, Ojor, Ogururgu in Enugu state and Obale in Kogi state measuring 10,089 hecters for N30 million to an agric company. This happened after they also sold another 10 hecters of land for N10 million to a cotton wood company without my consent and that of the leaders of the community.
“This illegal act was reported to the state government after we made efforts to call them to order failed. Government swiftly acted on our report and directed them to refund the illegal proceed to the buyers. The gang of land racketeers refused and questioned the authority the government had to tell them how to sell their ancestral land.
After that, they ganged up and started fighting the neighboring communities using matchets to inflict deep cuts on unarmed farmers all in an effort to drive them away from the sold land where they had their farmland so as to give opportunity for the buyers to start surveying the said land.
“Piqued by the ugly development, stakeholders in the communities which included me and other traditional rulers, the President General of the communities, Neighborhood Chairmen and the police met and arrests were activated. It was after the death of one of the arrested suspects that other members of the land racketeering gang swore to take their pound of flesh and started killing all those suspected to have exposed them.
So far, they have succeeded in killing four of us, they are making frantic efforts to kill me and the remaining ones also. We have reported this ugly development to all the relevant authorities including government but no concrete efforts have been made to round them up. They are all well known and till date, we cannot fathom why police has been unable to round them up,” he stated. Concerted efforts made to confirm the development from the police in Enugu however failed.