The Chairman of Edda Local Government Area, Ebonyi State, Prince Chima Ekumankama, has declared as buffer zone the disputed land that caused crisis between the people of Amaeta and Ogiri villages in the council, on Wednesday.
This was as he urged the people to take the directive serious and eschew violence in order not to lose out in the current state government led by Governor Francis Nwifuru.
The council boss gave the warning during a meeting with stakeholders of the two villages at Edda North Development Centre secretariat Oso Edda, on Thursday, saying any native that violates the directive will be severely dealt with by security agencies.
He read the riot act to the two villages and harped on the need for them to embrace peace or face the wrath of the law.
He reiterated that the primary role of every government is the protection of lives and property, which according to him, the state government is determined to do.
He appealed to the two warring villages not to engage in any form of dispute at this time, saying it was wiser for them to dedicate more energy and resources to farming to avert famine in future.
He said, “Consider this opportunity given to you by the state government to make peace , for this peace to reign. Consider the people here who had one or two official engagements today, but abandoned them to be here, for this peace to reign.
“Therefore, I urge you people to embrace peace. This is not the time to fight; if you fight now instead of do your farm work, it means famine beckons tomorrow. So, let’s embrace peace.
“By the power conferred on me as Chairman of Edda Local Government Area, where these two neighbouring villages are located, I hereby declare the land in dispute a buffer zone, from now onwards.
“It means no native from either Amaeta village or Ogiri village should enter into the area, for farming or any other activity until further notice.
“Take this decision very serious. Don’t taste the waters. Don’t try the government. If anybody goes against this order, I will instruct the security agencies to deal with such a person. And so it’s in your own best interest not to violate this directive.”
He thanked the security agencies and stakeholders for ensuring that tranquility and orderliness reigned during the meeting.
Speaking earlier, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Internal Security (Ebonyi South), Comrade Okenwa Uka, advised the people to shun violence.
He observed the two villages are inadvertently undoing themselves by fighting each other, saying, “Now that government is berthed in your area with your sons having been appointed into one position of authority or the other, it’s important you embrace peace.”
He said, “Standing here talking to you this afternoon in the capacity of SSA to the governor on Internal Security (South) is because I’m from Edda and charity, they say starts from home.
“I’m not here to pass judgement on who is wrong and who is right. However, I’m personally disappointed. And there are three reasons why I’m very disappointed: One, every Edda man has the interest of Oso Edda community at heart. This is because the situation and placement of Oso makes it so. And you didn’t put that into consideration.
“Two, you people didn’t also put into consideration efforts being made to ensure that peace returned between this community and other neighbouring communities around. It’s a big disappointment on our side. Three, after so many years of lamentations by you people that there was no government presence here and now you have a commissioner, SSA to the governor, a House of Assembly member and LGA party chairman. This also was not considered. If I were you I will work to ensure there’s peace so that real development will be felt here.”
Buffer zone is a neutral area serving to separate hostile forces or nations.
Meanwhile, the leaders of the two ‘warring’ villages have signed an undertaking to ensure a peaceful co-existence in the area.
Agreeing to sustain the peace efforts of the local government chairman, they observed they are ‘brothers’, stressing nothing should cause a quarrel between them.
The undertaking was signed by Chief Uduma Agwu and Mr Clement Eze for Amaeta village; Chief Ude Orji and Osuu Ama Okoro, among others for Ogiri village.
Recall both Amaeta and Ogiri villages were, on Wednesday, embroiled in crisis over disputed land.
The incident allegedly led to burning of one car, a house, and leaving scores sustaining varying degrees of machete injuries.