Jude Chinedu, Enugu
There was jubilation in Umuchigbo, the host community of the Rev. Father Ejike Mbaka’s Adoration Ministry Enugu, Nigeria (AMEN) in Enugu East Local Government Area of Enugu State, recently, as peace finally returned to the once troubled area. For three years, the community was torn apart by fierce leadership tussle.
Members of the community had thronged the Ncheke market square early in the morning, where they eventually elected a new executive to run the affairs of the community for the next five years. They chanted songs of praise to God and solidarity to the newly elected leaders of the community.
Daily Sun gathered that the conflict was caused by a sharp disagreement on the method of selecting new leadership after the expiration of the tenure of the past executive. It generated unprecedented bad blood among members of the community and nearly degenerated into violent conflict.
While some youths were in support of the community’s former chairman, Chief Francis Anike, who had been in the position for eight years, instead of the five-year tenure, as he was supposed to hand over in 2017, others called for a fresh election because his continued stay violated the constitution of the community.
On November 24, 2019, a large number of youths from the community besieged the Enugu State Government House with placards and banners calling for an election, which, according to them, would settle the lingering disagreement and forestall a degeneration of the conflict.
Addressing the protesters, Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi commended the aggrieved youths for being peaceful and assured them that, as the father of the state, he would intervene in the matter.
True to his word, the governor called for a meeting of all stakeholders of the community, including the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Chief Edward Ubosi, immediate past vice chancellor of Enugu State University of Technology (ESUT), Prof. Luke Agbo-Anike, and Chief Peter Aneke, renowned legal practitioner, to find a lasting solution to the crisis.
However, it took several other such meetings for an agreement to be reached and a transitional committee, headed by Chief Jude Agu, was inaugurated. The committee then conducted a peaceful election that has now reunited all warring members of the community.
The elected chairman of Lands, Works and Survey Committee of the community, Chief John Agbo-Anike, told Daily Sun that credit for the peace that has returned to the community should go to the peaceful disposition of Gov. Ugwuanyi: “There was a time we thought that this could lead to a bloody clash. Even the governor warned that, if the conflict was not tackled, it may take a different trajectory. So, we all are grateful that peace has finally returned.
“We can now conduct business in the community. We can now buy and sell land without any complications. We are prepared to right the wrongs of the previous administration; so, we are calling on everyone who is ready to do business to come.”
An elder of the community, Chief Ben Okorie, said the recent reconciliation and election that took place has soothed all frayed nerves in the community.
He said: “The elders are fully in support of the new community leadership. We are ready to offer our little assistance whenever we are needed. The whole elders supported the idea of an election, so, today, we are happy that it has finally taken place and a capable and trusted personality has emerged as our chairman.”
Another member of the community, Mr. Uchenna Okorie, said that the decision by their leaders to sheathe their swords and embrace peace was a good omen for youths in the community.
He recalled that there was a time friends would see each other and look the other way because they supported different camps, stressing that, at some point, he feared for his own safety as a result of the tussle.