Anambra Community Deserted As Soldiers Allegedly Storm, Set Houses Ablaze, Shoot Residents (Photos)

charred body

By Izunna Okafor, Awka

Residents of Anaku in Ayamelum Local Government Area of Anambra State, have fled the community, and run to neighbouring communities for their safety, as Nigeria soldiers allegedly invaded and attacked the community.

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This, according to sources, was as a result of the lingering and ongoing communal clash between the Anaku and Omor, another neighbouring community in the area.

When visited area, it was observed that the agrarian community was deserted, to the extent that only the bleating of goats could be heard in the community, while houses and many other properties were destroyed, following the alleged invasion by the soldiers.

Ashes, and corpses of burnt human beings were also seen in the community, while rubbles of houses, goods, and other properties set ablaze also littered the community, with very few and apparently fear-gripped residents seen around, who had come to check on their properties or pick one or two things.

It was gathered that the massive destruction was perpetrated over the week, following the resumption of the age-old communal clash between the two communities.

When interviewed, one of the residents of the community, Mr. Amamchukwu Izuogu, said the soldiers stormed on Wednesday. He narrated that they asked him about his children, whom, he told them, all live in Onitsha. Hé said they also checked his room, but couldn’t find anyone there, before they left, only for him to start hearing shortly after that they had begun burning some houses in the community.

He suspected that the military may have been brought by the people of Omor, with whom they are having the communal clash.

He narrated the Omor people were invading the Anaku community, but were blocked at the Ikpa by the youths of the community. He, however, said that while they were forcing their attacks to retreat, the soldiers stormed, whom, they (the Anaku people) thought came to mediate/pacify and bring peace between the two communities; only for them to return the following day and start burning everywhere in Anaku.

He revealed that no fewer than three persons died during the attack by the military.

Mr. Izuogu accused the Traditional Ruler of Omor as the person fueling the crisis, on the ground that he proves to be more wealthy than people from the opposing side. He also revealed that the monarch still has an outstanding case at Zone 13, Ukpo, concerning the ongoing communal clash with the people of Anaku. He further revealed that the Omor community attacked Anaku community exactly one year after they attacked another community, Umumbo, in the area.

According to him, the government had earlier settled the land boundary dispute between the two communities, which the Anaku people accepted, even though they felt cheated. He, however, said the Omor community rejected the settlement, and went further to remove the boundary marks put by the government, and consequently started intruding into Anaku land.

Mr. Izuogu, who is a stakeholder in the community, further alleged that it was the Omor monarch that engaged and used the military to rubble Anaku community, as he had always boasted on his wealth and connection. He said the Omor monarch had earlier accused the Anaku deities of various crimes, including accepting human sacrifice, which they were all vindicated from after the government sent a delegation to investigate the allegations and the shrines in the community.

He also said the soldiers attacked and burnt every village in Anaku community.

On his own part, an Anglican priest in the community, Rev. Canon Sunday Udegbunam of the St. John’s Special Parish, Anaku, who said the church’s women’s ministry shops were also set ablaze by the military, said the incidents happened on Wednesday, after the communal clash between the two communities. He suspected that the grievances of the soldiers might be tied to an alleged murder of one of their colleagues, who was reportedly killed in the community during the initial clash, and whose corpse, the soldiers insist, must be provided.

“There was a communal between us and the Omor people. And they said a soldier was killed during the clash, I don’t know. And they said the soldiers said the corpse must be provided to them. In fact, I don’t really know what is happening,” he said.

The Anglican priest further said that items worth over 50 million naira were damaged, while many others were looted by the soldiers, when they attacked the women’s ministry shops.

A former Woman Leader in the community, Mrs Ojadi Blessing Ifeoma, who led the newsmen to the community’s skill acquisition centre consummately damaged by fire, said items worth millions of naira were parked at the center, but were all destroyed by the soldiers, including sewing machines, computer sets, and other production machines.

Another resident of the community and Monica Chukwuemeka, a rice farmer, said she fled immediately she sighted the soldiers, only to return later and discover that all the rice she stored, worth millions of naira, had been burnt to naught.

Chigozie Nwikpor, on his own part, narrated how an old blind man, identified as Nonyelu Egwuatu, was burnt alive, together with his house, the pictures of which were also shown to the newsmen.

When interviewed, the President-General of the community, Chief Nwuba Paul Onyebuchi, narrated how he received a call at about 5.AM about the invasion of Omor people, shortly after which he said he received another call, informing him that soldiers invaded and were setting the community ablaze.

According to him, the soldiers destroyed almost 90% of the total buildings in the community, and said the town union had evacuated everybody in the village, and hopes to approach the soldiers when everything is doused to inquire the reason behind such inhumane act.

He said he had called the Divisional Police Officer of the area, who confirmed the incident.

Commenting on issues with Omor community, Chief Nwuba attested that the two communities had been having clashes in the past, but, however, said it had never gotten to the current extent, as he can’t tell whether the clash is now between the Anaku community and Omor community, or between the Anaku community and the Nigerian Army.

“I call on the Anambra State Government, the Federal Government and the international bodies, including the United Nations, to visit the area and see with their own eyes, what the military, Nigeria soldiers, did to innocent and unarmed civilians,” he said.

This reporter contacted a leading security outfit in the state, which, though, confirmed there’s a communal clash between the Omor and Anaku communities, however, said it was not aware of the alleged invasion of the Anaku community by soldiers, and, therefore, cannot react on it.

Be it as it may, a top security official who pleaded anonymity said the presence of soldiers in the area was an attempt to complement the effort of the Divisional Police in Anaku, which led to the drafting of troops of the Nigerian Army, 302 Artillery Regiment General Support, Onitsha, to quell the situation among the two waring communities.

According to the source, only 5 trucks with 25 soldiers went for the operation.

The source further revealed that the troops unfortunately ran into a barricade mounted by the militants, which led to exchange of fire between one Nnamdi (popularly known as Vulture) and the Army.

It added that two soldiers sustained injury, which made the military to remobilised with over 50 soldiers and return to the area in another operation which lasted till midnight. It claimed that about 4 houses, including that of Nnamdi, were set ablaze during the operation.

The source, however, revealed that the operation continued, with some shops along the main Anaku Old Road also set ablaze by the troops, while the suspect and his boys fled.



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