Anambra police command investigates alleged killing of septuagenarian over land dispute, says PPRO
The police command in Anambra says it has commenced investigation into the alleged killing of Chief Anthony Okongwu, a septuagenarian in Ikenga-Ogidi, the country-home of renowned novelist, late Prof. Chinua Achebe
Okongwu was said to have been killed during a land dispute between the community and its neighbouring Umusiome Village in Nkpor both in Idemili North Local Government Area of the state.
The command’s spokesman, Mr Haruna Mohammed, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the command was aware of the clash but had yet to confirm the alleged killing of the septuagenarian.
He said that investigstion into the matter had begun and that it was too early to confirm whether or not a life was lost in the clash.
He said: “The land dispute has been a long time crisis. There was a report of a recent clash between the two communities.
“The command is investigating the report at the moment and until we conclude, we cannot confirm whether there was a case of death or not.”
Mr Amechi Akume, the National President of Ikenga-Ogidi Family Union, alleged at a news conference on Thursday in Onitsha that Okongwu was killed in the clash.
Akume further alleged that three other natives of the community also sustained various degrees of injuries.
He claimed that some land speculators from Umusiome Village allegedly carried out the attack on their people at the disputed land, known as Ani-Owelle, on June 1.
Akume said that the protracted land dispute had since been resolved with the Supreme Court judgment in favour of Ikenga-Ogidi community on March 21, 1997 in suit number SC/71/1996.
According to him, the state government, which demarcated the boundary, also issued a Gazette No. 7, Vol.7 of July 31, 1997 to that effect.
Akume called on the government and police authorities to effectively enforce the Supreme Court judgment rather than ordering both communities to stay away from the disputed land.
The community leader also demanded that construction work on the disputed land be halted to prevent restive youths of his community from taking the law into their hands.
When contacted, the Chairman of Umusiome Village, Mr Pius Obiogbolu, said the community was not challenging the Supreme Court judgment but the state government’s gazette.
Obiogbolu, who said that the state government issued the gazette in error, called for its repeal.
“We want the state government to implement the recommendations made by those they invited to look into the land dispute,” he said.
Also, the Chairman of Umusiome Landlords Association, Mr Daniel Alaneme, said the landlords had no issue with the people of Ikenga-Ogidi, pointing out that they were not there when the dispute started.
Alaneme advised the leaders of both communities to seek ways to resolve their differences amicably.
“If at the end, Ikenga-Ogidi emerges victorious, landlords within the disputed land will come for settlement.
“We want peace to reign because we will gain nothing seeing the two communities go into unnecessary war,” he said.