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Ebonyi community denies killing, sacrificing human head for burial – [PHOTOS]

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The Azuofia Edda Community of Abakaliki Local Government Area, LGA, of Ebonyi State has given an insight into the clash which allegedly broke out over the death of a High Chief.

This is coming after reports made the rounds that no fewer than ten persons were killed following a clash between two neighbouring communities in Obubra Local Government Area of Cross River state.

The clash emanated from claims that certain young man from Cross River state, a commercial motorcycle rider, was decapitated for the high chief’s burial in Ebonyi State.

But in their own version of what actually transpired, the Azuofia Edda Community said more than seven communities from Obubra Local Government Area of Cross River State gruesomely launched an attack on them unexpectedly with sporadic shootings from warriors numbering over 500, chasing them out of their own community.community6

In a statement made available to DAILY POST and jointly signed by Obinna Udenwe, Leo Ekene Oketa & Chinedu Nwasum, the Azuofia Edda Community is insisting that it is not in their tradition to kill or use human heads for burial of chiefs or high profile persons in their community.

The statement reads in part: “On the 13th of January 2017, the people of Azuofia-Edda community of Abakaliki Local Government Area in Ebonyi State while in the comfort of their homes, on a very cold harmattan morning, sleeping, filled with dreams and plans on activities for the day, were attacked by a consortium of villages of Ofomana, Ogwurude (Ekori), Ofonama, Okinbogha, Ogamana, Ovurokponu, Okpechi, Ofenagama, Eja, and Ujitum all in Obubra Local Government Area of Cross River state.

“This attack started by 4am with sporadic shootings from warriors said to have numbered over five hundred, without enough time for the villagers of Azuofia-Edda community to save their lives or properties – they were outnumbered. These aggressors from the aforementioned Obubra villages had travelled over ten kilometres to reach the villages of Azuofia-Edda community.community5

“Villagers fleeing their homes reported that amongst the attackers were hired fighters and warriors, native doctors brandishing charms of all kinds and youths of various age groups carrying sophisticated weapons – including machine guns and Kalashnikovs, machetes, axes, motorized saws and petrol etc., with the sole aim of wiping out the villages in Azuofia-Edda community.

“The aggressors as they advanced burnt all buildings on their way – duplexes, bungalows, storey buildings, and mud houses belonging to the very poor. With their motorized saws, they fell down and set ablaze all economic trees in the compounds they visited.community4

“On the day of the attack, between 4am and 11am, before some security personnel arrived the scene the Obubra people had succeeded in setting ablaze all buildings in three settlements of Ndieze, Izenyi and Minikum in Ophenna village, numbering over forty compounds and compounds in Minikum settlement in Odageri village. The aggressors from Obubra succeeded in killing and beheading three men, Amaga Origbo, Egwuatu Okemini Egede and Simeon Ede Igboke from these two villages of Azuofia-Edda community and kidnapped three others presumed to be dead by now – Ike Ewa, John Orogwu and Nweboh Ophoke Nweboh.

“It would be interesting to note that given the number of people – youths, native doctors, hired fighters, including women who followed the attackers and whose duties were to loot and carry back properties – mobilized for the attack, the kind of ammunition they came with, the strategy they deployed and properties they destroyed, it was a well planned, coordinated and premeditated attack rested on the shoulder of the fact that the people of Ovurokponu village in Obubra Local Government Area of Cross River state had on the 10th of January 2017 accused the people of Azuofia-Edda community of Abakaliki in Ebonyi state of beheading a commercial motorcyclist, one Isagha from their village.  community3

“The said young man had gone to Nwida market in Edda community of Abakaliki on the ill-day and carried a female passenger. They travelled about thirty kilometres, passing through villages, farmlands, rice swamps and forest areas around Ophenna area. The passenger narrated that while they were riding, they noticed that they were being followed from the market by another motorcycle carrying two men but they didn’t know that they were being trailed until they stopped at a junction in Ophenna village where the other motorcycle sped past them and waited in the front – they sensed danger yet failed to report their suspicion to anyone in Ophenna village. They zoomed off and passed the assailants on the way and they kept trailing them, passing through the centre of Ophenna village, their lands and farms. It was while they got to the outskirt of the young man’s village of Ovurokponu, kilometres away, that they were double-crossed. The woman reported that the assailants asked her to run away. She hid in the bush and watched them shoot the young man. They asked her again to run when they noticed she was watching before beheading the young man.
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“As soon as the Ovurokponu people informed the people of Azuofia-Edda community of Abakaliki of what happened, the villagers reached out to them, in several efforts to broker peace, they assured them that they had inquired from their youths using the traditionally stipulated means of making inquiry in circumstances of such and was assured that no one from Azuofia-Edda community partook in the killing of the motorcyclist.

“After several efforts by the elites from Abakaliki, on Thursday the 12th of January, the Obubra people assured their counterparts from the Abakaliki side that there would be no crises and agreed to a meeting in Abakaliki town to settle the problem but unbeknownst to the people of Abakaliki it was a plot to set them off their guard and attack on Friday morning – the Friday this supposed peace talk was to hold.

“The efforts made by elders from Azuofia- Edda of Abakaliki and their elites to assure the Obubra people that they were innocent of the crime of beheading the motorcyclist, including inviting them to a round table meeting, suggesting travelling to their village to swear to an oath of innocence, inviting their elites and government stakeholders to talk to the elites of the Obubra people etc., etc., shows that the people of Azuofia-Edda in Abakaliki are peace lovers.

“It is also important to note that the young man had passed through many villages around Azuofia-Edda community of Abakaliki while returning from the Nwida market, passing through their farmlands, forest areas and rice swamps – areas that could be said to be easy spots for a killer to carry out his attack, yet he wasn’t harmed until he was around the outskirts of his own village, still they accuse the Abakaliki people of carrying out the killing.community1

“Is it not obvious that if the Abakaliki people had carried out the killing with the intention of using the boy’s head for any nefarious end whatsoever, common sense would posit that the assailants would have also killed the woman with him so as not to have any eye witness and that their bodies would have been catered away so that they would never be found since the incident happened around a forest area. Therefore the nature of the killing suggests that it was the handiwork of cultists prominent around the Obubra area.

“These poor villagers who are majorly rice and yam farmers have abandoned their homes, travelling hundreds of kilometres to live with friends and extended family members and can no longer access their farms as they have been displaced, their homes and properties set ablaze and means of livelihood destroyed, it is only fair that the state and federal government should as a matter of urgency come to their rescue and help them rebuild their homes, and set up a judicial committee of inquiry to investigate the matter and curb future attacks.

“In addition to that, as efforts are being made to help the affected people and curb future attacks, the federal government should revisit the boundary adjustment project as it affects the two communities to avert future crises in the area, and while the government is addressing this challenge, we are sure that the affected villagers would maintain peace and allow the government in on the matter for a lasting solution, more especially as security operatives have taken charge of the area.”

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