At least two people have been declared missing and 17 houses burnt down, while property worth millions of naira were lost in a communal clash that ravaged the Ikolo community in Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area of Enugu State, yesterday.
Members of the community, who wore gloomy faces when Daily Sun visited yesterday, alleged that over 50 youths from the neighbouring Aku community swooped in on them around 2am, yesterday, with guns, machetes, and petrol bombs with which they set many houses on fire.
As a result, hundreds of women in the community, who protested against the attack, called on the state government to intervene as they were helpless in the face of the unprovoked carnage. Some of the placards displayed by the protesting women reads: “Is Aku more than Enugu State Government?”; “Enugu Government save Ikolo from Ogbons Idike”; “Save our soul, our houses are burnt by Ogbons Idike” and “Save us from Aku people”.
The leader of the protesting women, Florence Ekwueme, said many women in the community have been rendered homeless by the invaders, adding that the government should urgently intervene to save the community.
“Why we are crying is that we were sleeping in our houses around 1am and 2am, and we were hearing gunshots. When we woke up, we noticed that our buildings had been burnt down. We are calling on the government to come to our people. We are a small community, and we don’t have people. They always attack us, beat up our youths and lock them up at the police station. The certificates of our graduates have been burnt. We are calling on the state government to help us.”
The traditional ruler of Ikolo community, Gabriel Ezugwu, said the community has been locked in a long-standing land dispute which the government has failed to resolve. He said every November, his people experience severe attacks from Aku people, who are sponsored by a certain politician.
“This has been happening before. It has been a constant attack. Every November, they come to attack us. It is sad that all these things are happening, but the police have not made any arrests. Instead of arresting Aku people who are the aggressors, they will turn around and arrest our people. I called the neighbourhood watch and they were able to repel the attack. But, before then, 12 houses were burnt down, while five houses were completely destroyed.
“This is a land issue. I have called the boundary committee to come and share the land, but they have not done that. We have not lost any life, but Ikolo people are suffering. They should come and share this land, so that we will have peace. A victim, Chukwuma Ugwuanyi, who was still nursing injuries from an earlier attack, said all his properties had been raised by the attackers.
“I was attacked by Aku people some days ago and my head was cut in five places. I was where I was receiving treatment when I got a call around 2am that my house was on fire. So, when I came here with my wife, I saw that my entire building had been burnt down. All my property is gone. Nothing is left. We could not pick up anything because nobody was at home. I can’t quantify what I have lost.”
Another victim, Ibe Anastasia, who was in tears as she spoke to Daily Sun, said when she noticed that the village was under attack, together with her children, they ran into the bush for safety.
“We were hearing their voices from our hideout. We were sure from their dialect that they were from Aku. They made sure that everything was burnt down, including three motorcycles and 10 drums of palm oil. Even the certificates of all my children were destroyed completely. Where do I start from again? I am finished,” she sobbed.
Also, Collins Ibe said they were yet to find their great grandmother who was with them before the attack. We don’t know where she is till now. We were together, but since we dispersed, we have not set our eyes on her.”
Eze Grace, a widow with five children, said she was yet to find her last child after the attack, adding that her house, together with her means of livelihood, was burnt to ashes.
“They were banging on my door and immediately I opened the door to see what was going on, one huge man slapped me, and I fell on the floor. You can see the mark on my face. I crawled out of the house with my children. I can’t find the last one, Amogechukwu. I don’t know where she is till now. I have been struggling to take care of them since their father died.”
When Daily Sun contacted the Spokesman of the Enugu State Police Command, Daniel Ndukwe, he said he would verify the information and get back.
Source: Daily Sun