Ebonyi State deputy governor, Barr. Kalechi Igwe yesterday clashed with the speaker of the state house of assembly, Mr. Francis Ogbonnaya Nwifuru resulting from a communal crisis that ensued between Ikwo and Izzi local government areas, where many lives were lost and houses razed.
Barr. Igwe hails from Ikwo LGA, while Nwifuru is from Izzi LGA.
The duo differed while making their submissions to the state governor, Chief David Umahi at the enlarged security meeting that involved all stakeholders of both Ikwo and Izzi clans, which took place at the state exco chambers, government house, Abakaliki.
On his part, the speaker Francis Nwifuru accused the deputy governor of complicity, alleging that the government was unserious to end the crisis.
“Since 1961 when the crisis started up till date, Izzi people on their side never violated instructions given to them by the state government. Starting from when His Excellency assumed office in 2015, there is a committee already on ground and they made their submission and their submission was turned down.
“They said that the submission was barbaric but that doesn’t border us. But, what borders us your Excellency is that you traveled and came back. You went to that disputed land and you gave instructions to all of us there, that no clan should violate this instruction.
“You left, the next morning sir, a woman by name Angelina was arrested by Ikwo people and we asked them to provide her. They killed her and shared her body within the community there. They didn’t provide her till date.
“On 27th, we were here, one Eze Nwobasi came to me and told me that Ikwo people are shooting and Izzi people are running. I told him that he should call the youths and tell them to assemble in one place. If they shoot at them, they should be running. They shouldn’t retaliate because that is the instruction from the government and we must obey it. I was with him when he called and told them that they should keep quiet. And make sure that they respect the wishes of the government and they did.
“This shooting did not happen in the night your Excellency, because it is when you want to lie, that you can say, it happened in the night when nobody can see you.
“Burning of schools and people’s house happened on the day time in the morning. Police were all aware, because they were informed on time. And if they had moved early to that place, they would have met them there.
“It was Ikwo people that are burning peoples houses. When we met at our ancestral home, senator Nguji Ngele and the former minister, Engr. Fidelix Nwankwo said that we must visit that place and see what happened. We don’t even have any security at that time, because I left my house alone. They moved to that place and came back wth pictures of the burnt school and houses. This houses are not thatched houses. it is when it is a thatched house that you can claim that the owners burnt them by themselves. One compound was housing about 3 building and it was totally burnt down. Yesterday sir, in another axis, about 7 to 8 buildings was also demolished by Ikwo people.
“From the beginning, government will give instructions and one clan will decide to be violating government order and there is no reaction from the government. What it tells us, the people of Izzi is that government is not ready to help us. it is high time we call a sped, a sped, that we get a result.
“If I’m guilty for offence, tell me that I’m guilty. Government had about 5 committees, the report of the first committee have never been implemented. Nobody has ever said that this clan is guilty. Two out of the 5 committees were chaired by Ikwo people.
“There is a committee that was setup in 2008 and they submitted their reports to the deputy governor as the acting governor and they turned down the report. He told them that this report is barbaric and the next morning, this crisis started. That is the genesis of this crisis.
“That community is part of his own development centre as the deputy governor. He cannot claim that he is not aware of something that is happening in his own development centre. Three villages were set ablaze that same day. We must call spade, a spade and we must give ourselves respect, but we must not die because we did not have his or her Excellency from our place.
“The problem we are having is that we don’t have his or her Excellency from our place, otherwise this crisis wouldn’t have happened.
“This crisis started in 2008, because Elechi was elected governor. Remember, the crisis stopped in 1974. And no body raised the matter till that 2008. Ikwo people started the crisis because Elechi, their own son was made the governor of the state. Remember also, that since 1993, No body has ever touched that disputed land.
“So far, we recorded about 11 houses that was totally demolished by Ikwo people, except the school that was owned by the government” he lamented.
Responding, the deputy governor Barr. Igwe, however, denied the allegations leveled against him by the speaker, stressing that he is not aware of the attacks.
“Echi-alike Ikwo was where the recent hostility was recorded high, but the Izzi people denied and said it was ikwo people that did it. Ikwo people have in their ancestral home taken a decision that anybody who defiles the order of the state government is on his or her own and shall be held responsible for his/ her actions.
“But, on 29th, the information I got was a text message forwarded to me, that after the governor’s directive, ikwo people went and burnt down a school in Izzi land. We were supposed to be meeting that day but all of us as soon we got that information had to move to Echi-alike. We interfaced with the inhabitants of Echi-alike that was present, including the youths.
“We asked them questions and they said that there was no inhabitants of Echi-alike that slept in that place between 27 and 28. It would have been very strange for them to hear that an Echi-alike son or daughter went there to perpetrate that type of mayhem.
“They said that to the hearing of all the stakeholders and traditional rulers of Ikwo that came to our ancestral home. There, they have no reason to lie. We warned that in case any of them are extremely provoked, that they should not do anything. They all pledged not to do any thing that will have a resemblance of retaliation.
“It will be difficult for me to say, since the people being accused are saying they never did that. It will be difficult for me to accept on their behalf. I want to believe that if that was what they reported to all of us, it was a statement of commitment from the people of Echi-alike ikwo and that is the much I know about this,” he stressed.
The governor, Chief David Umahi while responding, warned that nobody should take his government to be weak in tackling the crisis but prayed that God will bring a lasting peace and order to the affected warring communities of Ikwo and Izzi LGAs.
“Each time that we have this kind of unfortunate situation, we do come together to resolve it. We agreed before God and man that there will be no more hostility, burning of houses and killing of people. But that order was disobeyed, I want to know why it was disobeyed, is it that government is weak or that government is confused of what to do? This government is not weak, that we are Godly does not mean that we are weak,” he warned.