April 19, 2024

Anambra Monarch abducted in 2021 still missing

  • Residents fled their homes following more abductions

By Vincent Ujumadu

THE traditional ruler of Ogwuaniocha in Ogbaru local government area of Anambra State, Igwe Oliver Nnaji, kidnapped in 2021, is still missing three years after his abduction following communal crisis in the area.

Although 21 persons were declared wanted by the Anambra State Police command in connection with the abduction, peace has not been achieved in the area to date.

Only recently, more people were abducted in the community, leading to many people going into hiding.
Worried by the development in the community, which is part of his constituency, the member representing Ogbaru Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. Afam Victor Ogene, called on Governor Chukwuma Soludo to make deliberate efforts to end the communal conflict in Ogwuaniocha for peace to return.

The federal lawmaker recalled that he had earlier in February this year, written the state governor, drawing his attention to the lingering crisis in the community, which had led to the sacking of the over 5,000 residents of the area from both their homes and farmlands, by criminal gangs who have taken over Ogwuaniocha and its environs.

He appealed to the Anambra State government to set up a panel of inquiry to address the conflict and bring an end to the years of lawlessness, fear, reprisal killings and criminality in the community, adding that since 2021, there had not been socioeconomic progress in the community as a result of the protracted crisis.

According to him, the crisis has led to untold hardship and increased criminality in the entire Ogbaru local government area, lamenting that the Anambra State government, since the last administration of Chief Willie Obiano, has been treating the crisis in the oil- rich community with veiled disdain, in spite of the fact that the community produces the oil revenue which the state is currently enjoying.

Ogene, who is the chairman of the House committee on Renewable Energy, observed that the lingering crisis in Ogwuaniocha has unfortunately led to the sacking of the entire community from both their residences and farmlands, as criminal gangs have taken over the community.

Ogene said: “Your Excellency note that Ogwuaniocha is an oil bearing community contributing over 20,000 barrels of crude oil per day, which earned the state its oil producing status, and thus, deserves to be protected from the devices of agents of destruction, essentially as the security of lives and property is the primary purpose of government.

“It is troubling to recall that violent gangs have overtime, set up camps in and around Ogwuaniocha Community, sacked the residents, kidnapped the traditional ruler, Igwe Oliver Nnaji, who is yet to be accounted for, killed and maimed many others, mostly unchallenged in brazen desecration of the traditional institution and erosion of our cultural values. And this should alarm both the people and government of Anambra state.

“It is worrisome that while oil production goes on seamlessly in Ogwuaniocha, the people have been forced to stay off their community for two years now, since Monday, November 15, 2021, with no farming activity, no school for the children, no business activities in the community on account of the occupation of the community by the criminal gangs.

“It is pertinent to note that till date, people in Ogwuaniocha remain in dire need of urgent government intervention to find a workable resolution of the crisis, and also, as regards provision of relief materials and protection of their land and lives. “Sadly, this expectation has remained a mirage, as the immediate past administration in the state allowed the crises to fester, without any meaningful step towards restoring normalcy to the beleaguered community.

“Just recently, there was a fresh resurgence of violence in the community and its environs, leading to abduction of several people who are yet to be accounted for, a trend that has kept recurring since November, 2021.”

He urged the state government to:

*set up, urgently, a panel of Inquiry that would holistically address both the security and sociological dimensions of the crisis;
*compel the security agencies to comb the Ogwuaniocha forest and environs, smoke out the criminal gangs and restore order in the community to enable the residents to return to their abandoned homes and farmlands; and

*provide urgent relief materials for the community, in order to alleviate the suffering of the people who are living in fear under inhuman conditions.