Uzanu Community petitions Inspector-General of Police, debunks conspiratorial, mischievous claims by Igiode Commumity (+detailed SOS)

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Uzanu Community petitions Inspector-General of Police, debunks conspiratorial, mischievous claims by Igiode Commumity (+detailed SOS)

UNEME UZANU COMMUNITY SOUTH EAST UNEME, ETSAKO EAST LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA, EDO STATE.

30th April, 2021

The Acting Inspector General of Police,

Usman Alkali Baba, LouisEdet House, Police Headquarters,

FCT, Abuja.

Dear Sir,

SOS: CONSPIRACY, MISCHIEF, BLACKMAIL AND CAMPAIGN OF CALUMNY AGAINST UNEME UZANU COMMUNITY; A RENEWED TRICK BY IGIODE COMMUNITY TO VALIDATE THE UNLAWFUL ARREST AND DETENTION OF OUR KINSMEN ON THE ORDER OF THE EDO STATE DEPUTY GOVERNOR, MR PHILIP SHAIBU.

Our attention has been drawn to a malicious and carefully rehearsed falsehood by Igiode Community on vanguard newspaper published on 26th April, 2021 calling on the Acting Inspector General of Police IGP Usman Alkali Baba to save the Igiode Community from the hands of Uzanu Community in Etsako East Local Government, Edo State.

The said publication was not only concocted with deception and unbridled passion to mislead the public over the land dispute between the two communities, but also to tarnish the reputation and image of our people as well as the unwitty attempt to further embarrass and vilify the person of the Honourable Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, an illustrious son of the community.

Regrettably, this new twist and evil machination are not unconnected with the bizarre and unlawful continuous detention of four (4) unsuspecting Uzanu Kinsmen (Chief Emmanuel Ikeme, Chief James Alugbei, Chief Peter Ajegba, and Anthony Adamu) who dutifully honoured a formal invitation to a reconciliation meeting at the instance of the Deputy Governor, Mr. Philip Shaibu on Monday 29th March 2021. This supposed reconciliation meeting has since turned out to be a well-rehearsed state entrapment as the four (4) community leaders are yet to regain their freedom a month after the Deputy Governor (not without prejudice) ordered their arrest on a pretentious, eccentric and unfounded allegation of murder made by the Igiode Community even when a conclusive investigation into the baseless allegation at the Police Division, Agenebode evidently exonerated Uzanu Community.

The Inspector-General of Police may wish to know that in the course of investigating the said allegation of murder, an autopsy closely monitored by the State Government through the Etsako East Local Government, Agenebode, was carried out on the old man alleged to have been killed by Uneme Uzanu. The result of the autopsy stated unambiguously that the old man died of chronic hypertension.

In view of the foregoing, we are compelled to take the critical stance to stress some points on the cynical, fact-twisting and manifestly defective publication by Igiode Community predicated on the actions of the Deputy Governor.

The deafening silence from the State Government and deliberate inaction on the issue since the report of the autopsy carried out on the alleged murder victim was made public is evidential and among others, confirms our suspicion of an existing unholy alliance between the Igiode Community and the state government.

i. The numerous efforts made by Uneme Uzanu in reporting to the Police Division, Agenebode, various incidents of robbery, stealing, assault, and attempted murder on our people which at best were futile.

ii. Blocking the only access road to Uzanu Community by the Igiode People on numerous occasions and in one particular instance, the road was blocked for several weeks leaving our people totally confined within the Uzanu Community with the attendant dire and excruciating social and

economic pains that the Uzanu people had to endure during this agonising period.

iii. The Unilateral boundary demarcation by the state government prior to the 2020 Edo State gubernatorial election was challenged in court by Uzanu which cannot be overemphasized.

iv. A quick inquiry into the case of Celestine Itoya, Umole Onakuse, Iluma Abide, Chief Kasimu Kadiri, amongst others from the Uneme Uzanu Community, the victims are today still living with the scars.

v. It is equally on record that cash, motorbikes, and other valuables were robbed off of our people which can be ascertained at the Divisional Police office, Agenebode.

vi. A Toyota Camry belonging to an officer of the Nigerian Army who was driving to Uzanu in one of the numerous times Igiode blocked our only access road was burnt down in Igiode by their youth who went on rampage launching attacks on innocent passers-by.

vii. It is equally on record that the Senator representing Edo North, Distinguished Senator Francis Alimikhena sensing trouble and furious about the embarrassment caused by his Igiode Community when the orchestrated unprovoked action got out of control, had on May 2020 ordered the arrest of some of his people who took advantage of the situation to inflict several degrees of injuries on our people following the continuous blocking of the only access road leading to Uneme Uzanu.

viii. The premise of the above, as well as the pretentious allegation proven to be inaccurate and cynical, unfortunately, invigorated and emboldened the People of Igiode Community to take the law into their hands having been politically motivated.

ix. The Governor and his Deputy had boasted that they would use State Powers to deal with the Uzanu Community with a view to humiliate the person of the Honourable Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade-Agba for reasons best known to them.

x. The result of the 2020 gubernatorial election which suggests the outright preference for the Governor’s main opponent in the election by the people of Uzanu.

xi. The Unlawful arrest and continuous detention of the four (4) innocent citizens.

xii. The plot by the Edo State Government to use COVID-19 to perpetuate their wrongful detention and abuse of their fundamental human rights; the foul play, politics, and inconsistency contrary to their oath of office.

xiii. Certain questions begging for answers:

a) Who carried out the tests on the four (4) detainees whilst under unlawful detention?

b) Who was administering the drugs before the transfer of three (3) of the four (4) detainees to Stella Obasanjo Hospital Benin City after contracting COVID-19 whilst under detention?

c) Why are they being kept inside the Lassa Fever Section of the medical facility while the COVI-19 section of the isolation centre is under lock & key?

d) How many cases were recorded on the day the Chiefs tested positive whilst under detention?

e) How do we guarantee the safety and health of the three (3) innocent old community leaders said to have been receiving treatment on the deadly virus?

This naked abuse of power portends danger to the lives of innocent people particularly in Edo State and the Nation in general if not checked.

As the naked power abuse against our community by the State government continued with no sign of fading, the Uzanu Progressive Union (UPU) was compelled to issue a widely circulated public statement on a national daily and on social media on Monday 24th February, 2020 in the heat of the preparations and campaigns leading up to the 2020 Gubernatorial Primary elections of Edo State with the title “Unwarranted intimidation by Edo State Government: A ploy to cede Uneme Uzanu Land to Igiode Community as a political vendetta against Prince Clem Ikanade Agba for not supporting Governor Obaseki’s second term bid” amongst others.

The essence of the said publication was to draw the attention of the public to happenings between the two communities and the inciting role the government was playing which we thought was unbecoming of a government that ought to be for all, and impartial in all its conducts.

Also, in continuation of the naked power abuse against the Uzanu community, contrary to and at variance with the judicial verdicts, the government of Edo State in conjunction with the Igiode community sought to invent and stoke communal crisis by the making of Gazette No. 25, 2019, in whose preamble, it was thus mischievously stated;

“That since Igiode Community was the one that gave Land to Uzanu in the first instance, its claim to its boundary with Uzanu to run from River Niger through to Afa- Ogwoyo Road to Km 30, to Omonofa River, Railway line at the point marked (Point IG 2) up to Upa River (Point IG

1) to Iviebua Uzanu Upa road down South as indicated in the Survey Map be adopted and accepted”

It is on record that the land dispute between Igiode Community and Uzanu Community and the scornful claim that Igiode gave Uzanu land to settle were resolved judicially since 1973 as follows:

“I find as fact that the Uzanu people did not beg the Igiode for a parcel of land on which to settle, and that the Igiode people did not give the Uzanu people the land they alleged they gave to the Uzanu people to settle on. I also find as a fact that the Igiode people and the Uzanu people lived, at two distinct places. Having regard to all the points I have touched in this judgment; the plaintiff has failed to establish his claim against the defendant”. (Judge M.O Eboh Mrs, High Court of Auchi Judicial Division 10th August 1973.)

The above findings and decision of the High Court of Edo state were subsequently affirmed in the appellate Courts, December 1981, as follows:

“It is my view that all the grounds of the appeal as argued by the counsel to the Appellants lacked substance and cannot succeed. In the result the appeal fails and is hereby dismissed by me with costs assessed at N200 against the appellants”. (Justice Omoigberai Eboh, Federal High Court of Appeal, Benin Judicial Division, 3rd December, 1981.)

The two communities subsequently accepted the said judicial decisions in their various communal resolutions to live in amity and had maintained peace ever

since, until the Edo State government began to use the Igiode Community to contrive a non-existent crisis between the two communities.

However, aggrieved by the strange action of the Edo state government in the making and publication of Gazette No. 25, 2019, the Uzanu community instituted a civil action against the state government to interrogate the integrity and rationale of the publication.

Still, in continuation of the abuse of power against our community, the State Government went ahead in conjunction with Igiode Community to contemptuously demarcate the boundary using both the military and the Police, in spite of the fact that Uzanu had gone to court to challenge the said gazette.

The Inspector-General of Police and the public should please note the following critical information about the Uzanu land that the Igiode community is laying claims to:

1. You drive through Igiode Community for four (4) Kilometres before you get to Uzanu. The land in question is five (5) Kilometres after Uzanu towards Uneme-Ukpeko and other Uneme-Uzanu villages. A distance well over ten (10) Kilometres away from Igiode.

2. Uzanu shares a common boundary with Unuedeghor Community through to the River Niger on the same expanse the Igiode Community are laying claims for which Unuedegor Community have since instituted litigation against the Igiode community.

3. In the light of the above, the said land the Igiode people accused the Honourable Minister Prince Clem Ikanade Agba of acquiring and bulldozing is not in contention with Igiode Community as the Uzanu Community reserves the right to make decisions over its God-given resources. In fact, the farmland being expanded in its claim belongs to Uzanu and was granted to the Minister in 2010 and he later commenced agribusiness on the land six (6) years ago.

4. In their statement of Claim before the court, the Igiode people posited that the Uzanu People are from Anegbette, South Uneme and not from Weppa Wanno. Agreed, we are Uneme and were administratively in the South Uneme Clan, Anegbette under the headship of the Oliola of Anegbette from where the South East Uneme Clan was created from.

We have never been under the headship of the Weppa Wanno and will never be as mischievously claimed in the Igiode newspaper publication of 26th April, 2021.

5. It is informative to note that on the ground of supremacy in the area, the first Okumagbe of Weppa Wanno, Chief Martin Ogbaki was crowned by the late Ogamode of Uzanu in 1940 on behalf of the then Oliola of Anegbette. All the people of Weppa Wanno Speak the same variant of the Etsako language called Uwano dialect while we speak Uneme dialect with other clear cultural and traditional differences. We are Uneme and that is indisputable.

6. The narrative of communal crisis is therefore strange, and in our view invented by the State Government for political reasons and vested interests of both conspirators.

It is expected that if there was a crisis leading to the allegation levied against our people, reports would have been made to the Divisional Police Office Agenebode, which would have invited both communities and carried out their independent investigations. Specific claims in Igiode’s April 26th, 2021 publication that the Uzanu community has always been on the offensive as evidenced in the fracas on the disputed land which led to the death of Mr Ogbozokha, Ajimo Adobo and Chief Omo Imodu, are criminally false. We challenge Igiode Community to provide the evidence. We believe this is an open and reckless indictment on the Nigeria Police and all other relevant Security Agencies. It is impossible in our modern world for 3 Igiode people to be murdered by the Uzanu community and yet the Security Agencies would deliberately or negligently refuse to cause investigations into the criminal acts with a view to bringing the perpetrators to book.

It is important to stress and report here that Igiode tried vainly in their now-discredited publication of April 26th, 2021 to attempt linking the creation of the South East Uneme Clan to their contrived upsurge in hostilities between the two communities. If for anything, the creation of the South East Uneme Clan has promoted and improved the relationship between the two communities. It is a known fact that the Igiode Community and their collaborators have never hidden their envy and hatred towards Uzanu’s well-deserved independence as exemplified by the creation of the South East Uneme clan by the Edo State

Government. This is primarily because the Clan creation permanently put an end to all manners of injustices, oppressions and illegal attempts to fuse Uzanu into another clan which is like a marriage that is clearly incompatible traditionally, culturally and historically.

In light of the above, it is clear that the subject development is sequel to a non-existing over-hyped communal crisis deliberately invented, concocted and being nurtured by the authorities of Edo state, to achieve its conceived objective using the Igiode Community as a tool in a desperate bid to meet their objectives.

As law-abiding citizens, it is instructive to mention that as a community, Uzanu will never shield any criminal element or prevent the law from taking its course if found wanting in connection with any criminal act.

Given the judicious need to nip these problems in the bud, we hereby call on the Inspector General of Police on behalf of our entire community to consider the following as a matter of urgency;

1. Set up an independent investigative panel to unravel the genuineness and otherwise of the allegations levied against Uneme-Uzanu by the Igiode Community with a view to bringing the perpetrators to book in a timely manner, envisioned to douse the tension in both communities and to act as a deterrent to false alarmists, mischief-makers, anarchists and other criminal elements. The same Panel is expected to also painstakingly look into Uneme-Uzanu’s security concerns and threat to their existence as an independent community by the Igiode community and their cohorts.

2. Given the volatile nature of the current relationship and mistrust between the two communities, we use this opportunity to request for full protection of our communities by the Police in order to safeguard our lives and properties

3. We appeal to the Inspector General of Police to consider the immediate intervention on the release of our kinsmen unlawfully detained over the unfounded allegation in order not to thwart the fragile peace already existing between the two communities. If there is clear evidence of criminal acts proved against them, they should be charged to court immediately and accordingly in line with the laws of our land as against their wrongful continued incarceration.

4. We equally appeal to the IGP to make good his position by ensuring that a thorough investigation is carried out and justice served accordingly as any attempt to allow ongoing political interference and manipulations designed to pervert justice to fester will further aggravate the situation.

Whilst encouraging our people to remain calm and maintain peace amidst these provocations and intimidations, we will welcome any genuine government or other well-meaning bodies attempting to peacefully resolve our dispute with the Igiode community. We make bold to say that we view Igiode as a neighbouring community as decreed by God Almighty and that it is in our mutual interest to live harmoniously.

However, Uneme-Uzanu will explore all legal and judicial measures to vehemently resist any unwarranted gimmicks, evil machinations and conspiracies targeting our people, God-given resources, and our existence as a community.

Please accept the assurances of our highest regard

Yours faithfully,

1. Mall Ibrahim Izenobor The Ogamode of Uzanu

2. Alh Ibrahim Omokpua, The Ogiega of Uneme Uzanu

3. Chief Zibiri Baja The Asama of Uzanu

4. Chief Kasimu Kadiri, The Osese of Uzanu

5. Chief Ephraim Abu
The Egiegbai of Uzanu

6. Chief Thankgod Aliu The Eshemogie Of Uzanu

Cc:

1. The Minister of Justice & Attorney General of the Federation

2. Hon. Minister of Interior

3. The National Security Adviser to Mr President

4. The Chief of Army Staff

5. The DG DSS

6. DG, National Boundary Commission

7. National Human Rights Commission

8. DG Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)

9. All Print Media

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