By Chief Mike Edoziuno Aniegboke
The above advertorial published on pages 8 and 9 of Daily Sun of January 16, 2019 is an unnecessary distraction and a well-understood signal.
I am surprised that Pastor Jossy Akwuobi, PhD and Prof Mike Obiefune (Chairman, Aguleri World Forum and Chairman, Board of Trustees, Aguleri World Forum (AWF) respectively could sign such a fabrication.
I call that piece an unnecessary distraction because it has come at a time when Nigerians are busy striving to achieve peaceful elections as from next month. Thoughtful citizens are concerned about these elections. Pastors like Jossy Akwuobi (Ph.D) are praying fervently that the polls will be conducted in a credible, transparent and, most importantly, peaceful manner devoid of violence and its attendant negative consequences.
Given the innumerable challenges-the religious and tribal diversities in our country today, the threat from Labour over the scale up of minimum wage, the ongoing strike action by Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the verbal and other fireworks launched by political parties and politicians, against one another, the arraignment of the Chief Judge of the Federation, etc, one would have expected that Aguleri peopled by many eminent persons would not write, say or do anything against Umueri or any community for that matter at this time.
If crises arise in Lagos and/or Abuja for instance, Aguleri and Umueri people residing in those places would run home to their respective communities to take refuge. This can only happen if these two communities which it pleased God to create as next door neighbours, are at peace, otherwise they would have nowhere to run to.
If Umueri reacts in the same combative manner in which that piece signed by no less than a Ph D holder and a professor couched it, wouldn’t war break out between Aguleri and Umueri? If war ensues between the two communities, couldn’t lives be lost? Wouldn’t buildings be torched? Wouldn’t the people suffer ‘double jeopardy’ – the Nigerian crisis as well as a local one from which they may not likely extricate themselves given the proximity characterizing them. The questions can go on ad infinitum.
I also call the publication in review a well-understood signal. It is a sign that Aguleri wants to launch a war against Umueri. In the past, any time, Aguleri fired this kind of salvo, they attacked Umueri subsequently.
It happened in 1964. It was replicated in 1995 and that was the case in 1999. Once they were through with the preparation for a shooting war against Umueri, the people of Aguleri would first launch a media war, churning out incredible claims, accusations, invectives and propaganda. Talk of giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it!.
May I therefore use this opportunity to appeal to the Federal Government and the Anambra State Government (incidentally under the watch of an Aguleri man)to urgently intervene, commence immediate investigation, embark on serious search for arms and ammunitions within Aguleri with a view to preventing the invasion of Umueri for the umpteenth time by Aguleri.
I am cocksure that I am not the problem which Akwuobi and Obiefune are actually worried about. Their concern is the expansionist move by their people at Igboezunu village, Aguleri where only a few days ago, they trespassed into Ugume Umueri, destroying houses and attacking Umueri people.
How come these duo would be the ones to tell Umueri their story? How did they come by the insulting narrative that the progenitor of Umueri was an unmarried woman churned out by an Aguleri man? How did they come by the falsity that Umueri was originally Umu-ulu Eri and later Umuleri and finally that Umueri is a false creation of Umueri people?
In traditional Igboland, did a woman inherit landed property? How did Umueri, who according to Akwuobi and Obiefune, was a woman, come about owning massive landed property in the Omabala area (which is actually the cause of jealousy) from which they offered a king who married an Umueri woman enough land for him to build his palace? Could a woman who the custom of the land forbade from inheriting land have enough land for her community and some more which ‘she’ allowed a fleeing group from across Omabala River to settle in in1907? How did the son of a woman called Amakom from Umueri own a large expanse of land near the palace of the Igwe of Aguleri which premises Aguleri people have deliberately and completely obliterated from the surface of the Earth while they cling to St Peter Anglican Church, Aguleri? How did umueri, who allegedly was a woman come about to own where, as I write, is now called Current Petrol Station, Day Maker Petrol Station and adjoining parcels of land currently claimed and inhabited by Aguleri people after ferociously fighting Umueri? The site which I just mentioned was owned by Umueri and pillars bearing “Girls Secondary School, Umueri” were conspicuously moulded there. Suddenly, Aguleri destroyed all those things in the dead of the night and built the area up overnight.
If Dr Jossy Akwuobi and Prof Mike Obiefune were frank, they would readily admit any day that Aguleri and Umueri have been living side by side; that neither community could prove exclusive superiority or ownership of their place of abode; that no amount of propaganda, brigandage, war, etc. would help them and that only peace, mutual respect and truth will make outsiders to begin to accept them as civilized members of a 21st century world where it has been accepted by enlightened minds that war is anathema.
Aguleri and Umueri are surrounded by other communities. The people of these communities know between Aguleri and Umueri the community that fights everyone all the time. Nando, Umuoba Anam, Omor, to mention just a few communities know the community which prides herself as “those who forsook food in order to go and fight wars” (ndi vulu ogu, ju nli). It is a question of pot calling kettle black. Facts are sacred!
On Igwe Umueri and his disposition, His Royal Majesty, Igwe Benneth Emeka, JP, is an easy-going, pace loving, ardent christian. He talks peace, epitomizes peace and practicalizes peace. Unfortunately, people like Ralph Igwah and his cohorts from Aguleri are not happy that he (Oke Ebo II of Umueri) relates very well with the Anambra State Governor who hails from Aguleri. These evil-minded people from Aguleri fabricate unfounded stories in order to soil the cordial relationship between His Royal Highness and His Excellency. But God will not allow them to achieve their aim!
If Umueri were hostile to Aguleri, would she have massively voted for candidate Chief Willie Obiano (as he then was) in 2013 and replicated same in 2017? Would her Igwe have conferred a chieftaincy title of Ogbu-Na-Eche Ndo Umueri on Governor Obiano on December 29, 2018 (just a few weeks ago)?
In conclusion, Aguleri people are the ones provoking Umueri, insinuating war, invoking and re-involving war. They are the ones going on rampage, revitalizing war, claiming ownership of every land, space and even air. Anyone in doubt should ask Anam , Obele (in Kogi state), Omor, Nando, etc!.
This is the truth of the matter. Aguleri people are notorious for burning churches, schools, personal buildings, using dynamite and other lethal weapons. The few peaceful ones among them admit this fact. Raph Igwah, Igwe Christopher Idigo and their cohorts know this.
Chief Mike Edoziuno Aniegboke