•Over murder of residents
•Govt, police move to starve off communal clashes
From Emmanuel Uzor, Abakaliki
Tension is mounting in Effium and the Ezza-Effium, two Ebonyi state communities following the murder of some residents of the areas. Some people in the two communities Daily Sun gathered have started fleeing to avoid bloodshed.
A particular spot called Ikpoki junction a.k.a Troublesome Junction in the heart of Nwafia, a major market in Effium community in Ohaukwu council is now deserted.
Trouble was said to have started following the alleged murder of one Ndubuisi Nwali from Ezza by some people suspected to be from Effium. Tension rose when news of the murder of Ndubuisi, a father of one from Nwekendiegu, Effium hit the community.
Daily Sun gathered that the two warring communities have for long been on each other’s jugular. While the Effium indigenes are believed to have migrated from Efiom in Cross River state, Ezza people are laying claim to the town, the Ezza people insist that they were the real owners of the area. Incidents of armed robbery, murder, cultism and other crimes are said to be rampant in the areas.
Last August, gunmen suspected to be assassins killed 89-year-old Nwigwe Nwonu and his son at Inikiri-Umuezeoka Effium. Police said two suspects were arrested in connection with the murder; cell phones allegedly belonging to one of the deceased were recovered from them. However, it was gathered that the matter took a different turn when stakeholders from Effium allegedly accused the Disional Police Officer in charge of Effium Division of arresting their brothers during the new yam festival.
Daily Sun gathered that the suspects were later released. But the people of Ezza raised the alarm over the way they were freed by the police without proper investigation thus raising more tension. This happened barely few weeks after the state government finally resolved similar crisis between Ezillo and Ezza-Ezillo in Ishielu council of the state.
It was learnt that shortly after the death of Ndubuisi some youths quickly mobilised for reprisal attacks. But the quick intervention of some stakeholders from both sides and state government calmed frayed nerves.
However, tension rose again when youths of Nwekendiagu, Ezza-Effium gave the Chairman of Ohaukwu Local Government Area, Clement Odah, 24 hours to produce the suspects who allegedly killed their son and ensure that all those who were fingered in the killing were brought to justice or face whatever action that could follow.
Again, the state government was said to have quickly intervened and called for urgent security meeting of all stakeholders from both Effium and Ezza to deliberate on ways to arrest the situation before it escalated to a communal clash.
Speaking during his visit to the warring communities, Governor David
Umahi, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Prof
Bernard Odoh, described the killing of the deceased as barbaric and assured that the state government would do everything it could to restore peace to the areas.
He frowned at conducts capable of dragging both communities into war, regretting that the state government spent fortune in settling the Ezillo and Ezza-Ezilo crisis.
The governor’s representative first visited the traditional ruler of Effium community, Ezeogo Emmanuel Ekwueme to commiserate with him on the unfortunate incident which led to the death of one of his subjects and called on him to ensure that peace was maintained in the community.
He reminded him that there would be no visible development in amid crisis, adding that the state government would do all it could
to ensure that those who perpetrated the dastardly acts were apprehended and tried.
The Ezeogo Ekwueme who is from Effium, thanked the state government for its prompt intervention and disclosed that the major cause of the issues was who controlled the royalties from the forest reserve located in the area.
He took a swipe at the leadership of the council for constituting a lopsided committee made up of people from same side, saying that, that had been the cause of intermittent crisis in the community.
“I discovered that some people are not happy that one group has been benefiting from the royalty from the forest reserve and that a committee set up was lopsided one in favour of Effium people.”
Another indigene of Effium, Sunday Ejeh, alleged that the crisis was as a result of fear of reprisal attack from the people of Ezza over the murder of their son and maintained that people of the areas had been living in peace as one indivisible unit.
In their separate reactions, the General Chairman of Ezza-Effium, Mr. Titus Nworie, accused Mr. Odah of causing panic in the community by evacuating his family members to Abakaliki.
“I speak on behalf of Ezza people and I want to assure the state government that we will maintain the peace. But let it be on record that we have been at the receiving end.
“The people of Effium will come into your house and ask how much you bought the land on which your forefathers their houses and offer you money to relinquish it. We consider this as embarrassing but we have been keeping quiet because we know they were being used by some unseen hands.
“As it stands, Ezza man no longer walks the streets free; those boys who are mainly cultists rape our women and beat us up. Then recently, they ambushed a young man attending a burial of his friend’s father and without any provocation, shot him dead and fled. We are calling on the state government to investigate who did this.”
Mr. Joseph Oke from Umuezeokoha bemoaned the situation in both communities, fearing that murder of Nwigwe Nwonu and his son had escalated everything. He called on the police to revisit the matter and prosecute the two suspects earlier arrested. He said the action would pacify the people of the area and persuade them to believe that government was doing everything to punish those who committed the crime.
Youth leaders of both communities, Monday Nwankwo and Monday Enyim,
lamented the presence of some hoodlums in the committees constituted and called on the state government to take decisive measures to arrest the situation before it escalated.
Meanwhile, the Divisional Police Officer, DPO in charge of Effium Police Division, Superintendent of Police, Ibrahim Imam, has confirmed that some people involved in the killing of Ndubuisi have been arrested.
He assured the people of Effium and Ezza-Effium of adequate security maintain that all the suspects involved in the incident would be prosecuted.
One Sunday who said he was with Ndubuisi when he was killed told the reporter that they were going for a burial when the assailants intercepted them and shot the deceased.
“When we were intercepted by the boys, we tried to inquire why they blocked us. Then one of them brought out a gun and shot Ndubuisi in the chest. While I raised the alarm, his colleague shot in the air and the fled the scene.”
He alleged that the suspects whom he identified as members of Forest Committee set up by the council chairman intercepted them and inquired why the deceased ever harvested trees in the forest, a situation which he said led to an argument before the death of Ndubuisi.
“It was Double who said he identified Ndubuisi as one of the Ezza persons who used to cut down trees in the forest and said he would deal with us. Then one Friday shot Ndubuisi in the chest; he and his colleague fled when they noticed that people had started rushing to the scene.”
Wife of the deceased, Adaeze Nwali, who cuddled her 2-year-old baby, said her husband left for the burial of a kinsman and was ambushed by the suspects at Ngamgbo-Ariom and killed. She disclosed that her late husband was never in the forest in Effium.
However, when the Commissioner of Police in the state, Mrs. Peace Ibekwe Abdallah, visited the area she ordered the Chairman of Ohaukwu council, Clement Odah, to produce members of the committee or face the consequences.
Daily Sun learnt that the arrest of seven suspects fingered in the murder, might be linked to the directive of the Commissioner of Police.
Pomp as Aboderins mark matriarch’s 80th posthumous birthday
By Tessy Igomu
To many, the late Mrs. Florence Jadesola Aboderin, wife of the founder and first Chairman of Punch Nigeria Limited, Chief Olubunmi Aboderin, remains a woman of unequalled parts and character. She is one with a heart dedicated to selflessness.
This lasting impression which many still have of her, even after 24 years her demise, explained the deluge of touching tributes and eulogies that trailed her 80th posthumous birthday.
The event, which held at The Haven, Oba Akinjobi Road, in Ikeja GRA, was a gathering of celebrities and personalities in the society. Tagged: “Time Out With Florence Jadesola Aboderin,” the event put together by her children, turned out to be a mixture of tributes, reminiscences and entertainment.
Florence, who died in March, 1993, at the age of 56, was the first female mortgage banker in Africa. She was the chairman of the Lagos Building Investment Corporation before leaving to set up the Universal Building Society. She was also appointed to the board of many companies, including the International Merchant Bank.
With guests dressed the ‘Gatsby Way’ as directed by the organisers, the hall became a blend of the old and new, with sprinklings of feathery designs and glitterati reflected in every style. Music was provided by two bands, Rapture and T. W. O, with a special guest appearance made by a popular musician, 9ice.
Also on hand to ensure guests had a blast were the deceased’s children, Mr. Wale Aboderin, Mrs. Angela Emuwa, Ms. Omoshalewa Aboderin, Mrs. Wunmi Obe and her grandchildren. The guests were also entertained with a short documentary that detailed her life, and had her children recalling fond memories of their mother.
In his opening remarks, her first child, Wale, who is the Chairman of Punch Nigeria Limited, said the programme was designed to celebrate their mother and her legacies. He emphasised the importance of charity, noting that it was an act capable of making the world a better place. He also stressed the need for people to learn to give and be kind without seeking any form of gratification.
Wale urged Nigerians to impact positively on lives both directly and indirectly, adding that people should learn to love even those they barely knew because that was what his mother represented in her lifetime.
“Integrity, honesty and love for fellow human beings, regardless of ethnic considerations, should be people’s watchword. That was what my mother stood for; she felt concerned for people, no matter their social status. Remembering my mum is not a one-day thing, rather it has been on, on a continuous basis.
“I feel sorry for those who never met her. But from the testimonies and remarks of those who knew her, it is clear she was able to impact lives, whether directly or indirectly. My mother’s autobiography would be given freely to all the attendees, for people to learn from.”
In her eulogy, the first daughter, Angela, described her mother as one with a large heart, and thanked God for blessing her with a mother, from whom she learnt so much from.
The former Minister of Health and Social Services, Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, in his speech recalled how the deceased ensured the success of the housing scheme of the first civilian governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Jakande in the 80s.
Prince Adeluyi, the Chairman of Juli Pharmacy Plc, said that while serving as the pioneer executive Chairman of the Lagos Building Investment Corporation, LBIC, she ensured, within her strength, that the Jakande administration recorded success.
“Our sister, Jadesola, veered into politics and preached the politics of hard work and tolerance. She contributed in no small measure to the success of the Jakande government especially in the area of housing. Despite Jadesola’s achievement in politics none of her children followed the path. She was a dedicated supporter of the family values and ventures. She showed unequalled resolve to see to the continued existence of The Punch Group and went all lengths, including legal, to ensure the survival of the organisation. We hold in our memories her image as an astonishing, large-hearted woman of character, a mother, a philanthropist, a lover of children, a believer in ethical behaviour in all circumstances, a devout Christian, a lover of books and an undying example of motherhood.
“When she passed on at the early age of 56 years, it was not surprising that the low and the mighty, business moguls, politicians as well as men and women of honour and stature trooped to their Ilupeju residence to console the children. It would be remembered that their father had passed on nine years earlier and their mother had to calmly and stoically bear the responsibilities of widowhood; single-handedly nurturing the children. We also honour the memories of our amiable friend and brother, late Chief James Olubunmi Aboderin.”
Also at the event to honour one of their own, were members of the Busy Bees Society and Young Women’s Christian Association, two organisations she belonged to in her lifetime. The members paid glowing tributes to her in songs and speeches specially written for the occasion.