Lawmaker Urges Governor Soludo To Restore Peace In Oil-Producing Community

By Chinwe Onuigbo, Awka

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The member representing Ogbaru Federal Constituency, Anambra state at the House of Representatives, Mr Afam Ogene, has called on Anambra State Governor Chukwuma Soludo to make deliberate efforts to end the commonnal conflict in Ogwuaniocha community in Ogbaru Local Government Area, which has led to the abduction of the traditional ruler, who is yet to be accounted for since 2021.

Ogene appealed to the Anambra state government to set up a panel of inquiry to address the violent conflict and bring an end to the years of lawlessness, fear, reprisal killings and criminality in the community, adding that since 2021 there has been no progressive social or economic activity in the community as a result of the crisis.

The lawmaker made the call in a trending video yesterday, where he lamented that the Anambra state government, since the last administration of Governor Willie Obiano, had treated the crisis in the oil-rich community with veiled disdain, in spite of the fact that the community produces a mass of the oil revenue that the state is currently enjoying as an oil-producing state.

The lawmaker, who is the Chairman House Committee on Renewable Energy, also in the video, disclosed that he had earlier in February written to the state governor, drawing his attention to the lingering crisis which has led to the displacement of over 5,000 residents of the community from both their homes and farmlands by criminal gangs who have now taken over Ogwuaniocha and its environs, leading to untold hardship and increased criminality in the local government area.

Ogene’s earlier letter to Governor Soludo, which he said the governor didn’t respond to was entitled: “Urgent need for government intervention in the lingering crisis in Ogwuaniocha community in Ogbaru LGA: A request for a panel of inquiry.”

The letter read in part: “I write to draw the attention of Your Excellency and the state government to the lingering violent crisis in Ogwuaniocha in Ogbaru Federal Constituency, Anambra state, which has unfortunately led to the sacking of the entire community from both their residences and farmlands as a result of the activities of criminal gangs who have taken over the community.

“Note, Your Excellency, that Ogwuaniocha is an oil-bearing community, (contributing over 20,000 barrels of crude oil per day), which earned the state its oil-producing status, and thus deserves to be protected from the devices of agents of destruction, essentially as the security of lives and property is the primary purpose of government.

“It is troubling to recall that violent gangs have overtime set up camps in and around Ogwuaniocha community, sacked the residents, kidnapped the traditional ruler (Igwe Oliver Nnaji) – who is yet to be accounted for – killed and maimed many others (mostly unchallenged), in brazen desecration of the traditional institution and erosion of our cultural values. And this should alarm both the people and government of Anambra state.

“It is, however, worrisome that while oil production goes on seamlessly in Ogwuaniocha, the people have been forced to stay off their community for two years now – since Monday, November 15, 2021 – with no farming activity, no school for the children, no business activities in the community, on account of the occupation of the community by the criminal gangs.

“It is pertinent to note that till date people in Ogwuaniocha remain in dire need of urgent government intervention, in finding a workable resolution of the crises and also as regards the provision of relief materials and protection of their land and lives. Sadly, this expectation has remained a mirage as the immediate past administration in the state allowed the crises to fester without any meaningful step towards restoring normalcy to the beleaguered community.

“Just recently, there was a fresh resurgence of violence in the community and its environs, leading to the abduction of several people who are reportedly yet to be accounted for, a trend that has kept recurring since November 2021.”

The Reps member who is also the Secretary of the Southern Caucus at the 10th House of Representatives, further requested: “(i) That the state government set up, urgently, a Panel of Inquiry that would holistically address both the security and sociological dimensions of the crisis.

“(ii) Compel the security agencies to comb the Ogwuaniocha forest and environs, smoke out the criminal gangs and restore order in the community to enable the residents to return to their abandoned homes and farmlands.

“(iii) Provide urgent relief materials for the community, in order to alleviate the sufferings of the people who are living in fear, under inhuman conditions.”

 

 

 

Emmanuel Ukoh

 

 

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