Raymond Ozoji, Awka
The traditional ruler of Umueri kingdom in Anambra-east local government area of Anambra state, His Royal Majesty Igwe Benneth Izuchukwu Emeka, has said that there is no more war between Umueri, Aguleri and Umuoba-anam. According to him, the three communities currently co-exist peacefully as neighbours and as brothers in Anambra-east local government area.
The monarch, who also doubles as the Chairman/Managing Director of New Idea Construction Company Limited, said that since he became the traditional ruler of Umueri kingdom, there had been two major attempts for crisis to erupt again in the area but the timely intervention of Governor Willie Obiano through the security agencies quelled the storm.
Igwe Emeka recalled the devastating war of 1995 between Aguleri and Umueri as well as the communal war of 1999 between Umueri, Aguleri and Umuoba-anam, alleging that Aguleri and Umuoba-anam invaded his community and burnt all the houses and public places there-in over land ownership.
According to him, the then president Olusegun Obasanjo visited the area and wept bitterly asking a pertinent question that “are there no elders in these communities”. He said the crisis was so terrible that Umueri was wiped out completely and that from 1999 till the present day, Umueri kingdom has been undergoing rehabilitation in a bid to rebuild the community from the remains of the communal war. He equally disclosed that those whose houses were burnt in the heat of the crisis could no longer rebuild them as most of them were now retired civil servants and old farmers.
According to him, Umueri has tried to broker peace between her neighbours.This, he said, saw the setting up of a peace committee between Umueri, Aguleri and Umuoba-anam as well as another peace committee between Umueri and Aguleri respectively emphasizing that as a community, it decided that the war of 1995 and 1999 would not rear its ugly head again and as such Umueri resolved not to fight her neighbours again.
Be that as it may, the traditional ruler of the community noted that from 1999 till date, there had been no communal war in the area even though he also pointed out that it was the stock-in-trade of some enemies of peace to forment trouble between the communities so that they could feed fat from the crisis.
Igwe Emeka who stated that Umueri kingdom was renowned for its richness in agriculture and other cultural heritage such as New Yam festival, Onwu-ili festival, Alo-Nmuo festival and a host of other festivals, noted that there had been no government presence in the community since the creation of Anambra state in 1991.
The monarch said the highest Umueri had got so far from government were electric transformers given to the community by ex-Governor Peter Obi, pointing out that other previous administrations did not remember Umueri community. Igwe Emeka though admitted that ex-Governor Chris Ngige built Abagana-Otuocha Road which provided access into the interriors of the hinterlands.
Apart from that, the traditional ruler stressed that it had been very pathetic as there were no asphaltic road in Umueri, no government patronage, no appointments and no employments for the people of Umueri kingdom until the advent of Governor Willie Obiano whom he said has brought unprecedented government presence to the area.
According to him, “My vision for Umueri is first of all, to take Umueri closer to God! Bring them closer to Christ! Since Umueri has been neglected for a very long time, my mission is to use my position as the traditional ruler to attract government presence to Umueri kingdom as well as ensure also that people of Umueri secure some appointments and employments with government because we have been neglected for a very long time and it has been very pathetic.”
Though he noted that in Igbo land, there had never been a place where someone was being coronated without opposition and antagonistic elements trying to truncate it, he said where the majority stands by you in the entire episode, there is certainly no cause for alarm. He stressed that such was his ordeal but in spite of the machinations of malignant forces, he was crowned traditional ruler of Umueri kingdom.
Igwe Emeka told the reporter in his palace that “I was coronated peacefully. No one fought with the other. No bloodshed. No house was burnt. In some communities, you will experience a lot of bloodshed and witness burning of cars, houses.” He noted that since he became the traditional ruler of Umueri, the community has never remained the same again.
He therefore expressed profound gratitude to Governor Willie Obiano for choosing Umueri as a place to site the cargo international airport and for providing two asphaltic roads, a civic centre, electricity, library, to mention a few, pointing out that the community would leverage as well as consolidate on the peace and tranquility that Umueri has enjoyed since 1999 as it would always employ government machineries and security agencies to intercept external aggressions and invasion of Umueri kingdom by emissaries of rift, rancour and pandemonium.