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‘Save us from Eni Uduma,’ Ebonyi community petitions Tinubu over waves of killings

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'Save us from Eni Uduma,' Ebonyi community petitions Tinubu over waves of killings

Some stakeholders of Ekoli Edda in Edda Local Government Area of Ebonyi State under the umbrellas of Concerned Citizens, Ekolite and Glory of Ekoli Edda, have petitioned President Bola Tinubu over what they described as persistent political assassinations of in the area.

The stakeholders who shared pictures of the violence, in the petition, accused Eni Uduma Chima, a former chairman of the local government of being behind the assassinations, through a squad they identified as the Morekanbedone Killer Squad.

In the petition written through their lawyer, Ogban Ebenezer Unor of Ogban Ebenezer & Co, the petitioners accused the former local government boss of instigation a war with a neighbouring community, which they said claimed the lives of 14 individuals from Ekoli Edda.

According to them, “Ekoli Edda has been under siege and bondage since 2007 when one, Eni Uduma Chima took over the reigns of power following his election and ascension as a Member of Ebonyi State House of Assembly. This gave him the impetus to assume control of the Community.

'Save us from Eni Uduma,' Ebonyi community petitions Tinubu over waves of killings

One of the victim of the violence

“As part of his game plan to subdue the community perpetually, he decimated the traditional institution and arrogated to himself the sole right and prerogative of determining who heads all organs of local administration in the community. Consequently, he unilaterally produced successive leaderships of the Town Development Union and other Local institutions from 2007 to 2023. He also installed one, Elder Oji Ufiem Okoro as the Traditional Ruler of Ekoli Edda and used him negatively to make life unbearable for the people of the community.”

The stakeholders alleged further that, “having taken over absolute control of all the paraphernalia of authority in their said community, the said Eni Uduma Chima instituted a reign of terror against their people by forming a killer squad organization known as “Morekanbedone”, and unleashed them against defenceless innocent citizens and his perceived enemies whereas the primary functions of a responsible and responsive organization whether government or native administration ought to have been the welfare and protection of lives and properties of the citizenry.

“That the war between the people of Ekoli Edda in Edda Local Government Area of Ebonyi State and Erei coalition comprising Egbon, Abanwan, Ipene and Ibini in Biase Local Government Area of Cross River State was by every assessment a self inflicted injury instigated by this man, Eni Uduma Chima because of his selfish economic interest and savage instincts. This he did by using his office as the former Chairman of Edda Local Government Area to instigate and mobilize from the two communities to attack themselves in their quest to take over control of the Erei Farm Settlement Scheme. For instance, the war which started in 2018, ended in 2022 after Eni Uduma Chima left office as Local Government Chairman.

'Save us from Eni Uduma,' Ebonyi community petitions Tinubu over waves of killings

” That within the period of the war, 14 indigenes of their community were gruesomely killed in the unfortunate war that could have been avoided if only Eni had considered the implication of the war in terms death toll and economic losses.”

Read full petition below:

OGBAN, EBENEZER & CO.
(HOPE RISING CHAMBER)
SOLICITOR & ADVOCATES

OFFICE:
11 Ogoja Road
Abakaliki, Ebonyi State
08063755994

8th March, 2024.

The President
& Commander In-Chief of the Armed Forces
Federal Republic of Nigeria
Also Rock Villa
Abuja – Nigeria

Your Excellency Sir,

GUN-RUNNING,TERRORISM AND BLOODSHED IN EKOLI EDDA: AN UNWHOLESOME ACT PERPETRATED BY THE FORMER CHAIRMAN OF EDDA LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA, BARR, ENI UDUMA CHIMA AND HIS COLLABORATORS – THE MOREKANBEDONE KILLER SQUAD.

A CALL TO SAVE OUR SOULS.

We have been consulted by public spirited citizens of Ekoli Edda in Edda Local Government Area of Ebonyi State of Nigeria comprising three groups under the aegis of Concerned Citizens, Ekolite and Glory of Ekoli Edda, respectively, who have retained our services with the specific instructions to write this petition to Your Excellency, Mr. President. We shall hereinafter refer to them as ” Our Clients “.

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The above subject matter herein refers. Our said Clients have informed us as follows:

1.That Ekoli Edda has been under siege and bondage since 2007 when one, Eni Uduma Chima took over the reigns of power following his election and ascension as a Member of Ebonyi State House of Assembly. This gave him the impetus to assume control of the Community. As part of his game plan to subdue the community perpetually, he decimated the traditional institution and arrogated to himself the sole right and prerogative of determining who heads all organs of local administration in the community. Consequently, he unilaterally produced successive leaderships of the Town Development Union and other Local institutions from 2007 to 2023. He also installed one, Elder Oji Ufiem Okoro as the Traditional Ruler of Ekoli Edda and used him negatively to make life unbearable for the people of the community.

'Save us from Eni Uduma,' Ebonyi community petitions Tinubu over waves of killings

2. That having taken over absolute control of all the paraphernalia of authority in their said community, the said Eni Uduma Chima instituted a reign of terror against their people by forming a killer squad organization known as”Morekanbedone”, and unleashed them against defenceless innocent citizens and his perceived enemies whereas the primary functions of a responsible and responsive organization whether government or native administration ought to have been the welfare and protection of lives and properties of the citizenry.

3. That the war between the people of Ekoli Edda in Edda Local Government Area of Ebonyi State and Erei coalition comprising Egbon, Abanwan, Ipene and Ibini in Biase Local Government Area of Cross River State was by every assessment a self inflicted injury instigated by this man, Eni Uduma Chima because of his selfish economic interest and savage instincts. This he did by using his office as the former Chairman of Edda Local Government Area to instigate and mobilize from the two communities to attack themselves in their quest to take over control of the Erei Farm Settlement Scheme. For instance, the war which started in 2018, ended in 2022 after Eni Uduma Chima left office as Local Government Chairman.

'Save us from Eni Uduma,' Ebonyi community petitions Tinubu over waves of killings

4. That within the period of the war, 14 indigenes of their community were gruesomely killed in the unfortunate war that could have been avoided if only Eni had considered the implication of the war in terms death toll and economic losses. The casualties recorded from Ekoli Edda are namely: (1) Ndukwe Okorafor, (2) Paulina Ndukwe, (3)Sunday Ogbu Ama, (4) Chinecherem Nnachi, (5) Ogbonne John, (6)Esther Ikwor and (7) Elizabeth Ikwor. Others were (8) Mmecha Ibe, (9) Olughu Enworo Ude, (10) Augustine Etta Egor, (11) Felix Etta Egor, (12) Ndukwe Oko, (13) Ndukwe Azu Omaka and (14) Ukpai Uka Mba respectively.

5.That the war however turned out to be an abbatross to their said Ekoli Edda Community as those warriors, that is “Morekanbedone” killer squad who had acquired in collaboration with their sponsors the weapons of destruction for the prosecution of the war rather turned round to use the same weapons as instrument of internal oppression, intimidation and victimization against their perceived enemies in Ekoli Edda, of which some persons were either killed or banished from the community under the instructions and orders of the said Eni Iduma Chima and his bunch of oppressors.

6.That unimaginable strange things began to happen in Ekoli Edda following the proliferation of firearms and ammunitions of different descriptions and calibre in the community. Regrettably enough, an atmosphere of insecurity, anarchy and violence engulfed Ekoli Edda which led to series of murders of innocent citizens.The victims of these acts of terrorism are namely: James Ukpai Uche, Oti Olughu Dike, Daniel Egwu (aka Mirror Black), James Chima Okoro, Agha Ibeze, Sunday Kalu Egwu, Okam Agwu Etta, Kalu Ogbu, Nnenna Udu Anya Okoro, Jenny Mba, Agwu Awuu, Uduma Dick Ude Onu, Emeka Orji Ama, Oko Unor, Onyekachi Ugbor Ama, Elijah Kalu Eni (aka Bosca), Essien Kalu Egwu, Inspr. Festus Akpan, Ogeri Oji Uka and Ibiam Abel Idika among others. Apart from the above mentioned recorded murder, over 2,000 other victims were beaten to a state of stupor and unconsciousness as evidenced in the attached photographs.

'Save us from Eni Uduma,' Ebonyi community petitions Tinubu over waves of killings

7.That the impunity associated with the ruthless activities of the said Eni Uduma Chima and his foot soldiers who treated other inhabitants as conquered citizens, led to the mop-up of firearms and other sophisticated weapons in the community by the Nigerian Military Authorities in an operation which commenced in Ekoli Edda on 16th December, 2023 following the arrest of Eni Iduma Chima’s Field Commander, Arua Ikwor Ekpe on 14th December, 2023 while trying to extort the sum of #20,000.00 from the family of Mr. Aja Oji and his wife as a pre-condition for the couples traditional marriage ceremonies. That the said Arua made a confessional statement after his arrest which also led to the arrest of the immediate past Town Union President, Dr. Uka Mba Uka, Kalu Igwe, Kalu Ugbor Kalu and Oji Chima Oji among others. These people are currently in custody at Nkwagu Military Cantonment, Abakaliki.

8.That instead of surrendering their weapons, the rebels terrorizing Ekoli Edda and its environs, fled to Aliugbogho forest where they are currently taking refuge. Unfortunately, they have continued to operate as bandits in the forest thereby making it difficult for farmers to go to their farm. And there is serious suspicion at the moment that these criminal elements now operate as a cell of IPOB/ESN.

'Save us from Eni Uduma,' Ebonyi community petitions Tinubu over waves of killings

9 That consequent upon the deadly activities of the bandits in the forest, three inhabitants of the community namely: Okechi Oji, Agha Ozi and Udu Anya Okoro nearly lost their lives when they were recently ambushed by the said rebels.

10.That in line with the agreement reached with the military authority, the said Eni Uduma Chima on 29th December, 2023 returned large catchment of assorted firearms and other sophisticated weapons to the military high command at Nkwagu Army Barracks of not lesser than 57 in number comprising AK 47 Rifles, Rocket Launchers, Dynamites and Hand Grenades among others which our clients believe are far below the quantity which his said Field Commanders, Arua Ikwor Ekpe had mentioned in his said confessional statement after his arrest as the number of weapons in their possession, and it is also on record that the said Eni Uduma Chima had previously returned to the soldiers intermittently other weapons in a bid to meet the deadline the military had given to him to recover and surrender all weapons in circulation in the community since Eni as a matter of fact knew the source and their locations.

11 That our clients think that it is imperative to identify officially the source of supply of these weapons which they strongly believe were supplied to the rebels by their mentor, Eni Uduma Chima and his partner in crime, Ama Ibom Agwu which some concerned citizens in the community had previously written to the Inspector General of Police to that effect, appealing to the Police Chief to fish out sponsors of terror in Ekoli Edda and bring them to justice.

'Save us from Eni Uduma,' Ebonyi community petitions Tinubu over waves of killings

12.That the said Eni Uduma Chima has continued to maintain regular contact with the rebels in the forest including supplying them with foodstuffs and medicals without compelling them to surrender the weapons at their disposal. Our clients are visibly worried that the unwholesome development makes an average Ekoli man an endangered specie both presently and in future.

13 That it is the fervent prayer of our clients that the mop-up operation of firearms and ammunitions in Ekoli Edda should be sustained and not abandoned halfway otherwise it is their conviction that nobody is safe in their community any longer.

14.That Barr. Eni Uduma Chima has roundly been accused of being responsible for the affliction suffered by Ekoli Community, attributing the people’s dilemma to the political positions he occupied for fifteen good years at a stretch which he used negatively to oppress and coerce the people to submission despite the fact that the people had on two occasions demonstrated their resentment against him by rejecting him at the polls: first in 2015 and again in 2023 when he contested the Federal House of Representatives election and failed woefully. And our clients believe that Eni Uduma Chima is a monster in human flesh who has always abused whatever power at his disposal by using it to oppress and suppress the masses.

15 That there is no justification whatsoever why Eni Uduma Chima should still be enjoying his freedom, having not only been returning to the military recovered weapons but also after being implicated by his Field Commander, Arua Ikwor Ekpe as someone who supplied the weapons to the insurgents alongside his partner one, Mr. Ama Ibom Agwu and our clients strongly feel that the duo should not be treated as sacred cows since they are not above the law.

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'Save us from Eni Uduma,' Ebonyi community petitions Tinubu over waves of killings

17. That their said Ekoli Edda Community has been enjoying relative peace, stability and freedom since 9th December, 2023 when the Governor of Ebonyi State, Rt. Hon. Bldr, Francis Ogbonna Nwifuru had in his wisdom approved the setting up of a Caretaker Committee for the Town Development Union and it is the fear of our clients that the situation will change for worse once Eni is given any political appointment which they think will afford him the leeway to continue his evil ways.

18. That the reign of terror which instilled fears in the minds of the defenceless and hopeless people of Ekoli Edda was despicably exported to other communities in Edda thereby charging up the political temperature of the entire Edda Clan which time and space cannot permit us to analyse here.

19.That there has been anarchy and much bloodshed in Edda Land because Eni Uduma Chima usually feels that he is untouchable and unstoppable especially when he can leverage on political power at his disposal to do unimaginable things.

'Save us from Eni Uduma,' Ebonyi community petitions Tinubu over waves of killings

20.That it is therefore on account of the dire consequences of the prevailing atmosphere of insecurity in Edda vis-a-vis the criminal activities of Eni Uduma Chima and the insurgents who have taken refuge at Ekoli forest that our clients have specifically instructed us to most passionately appeal to you, Mr. President to use your good offices to cause that immediate raid be carried out in their criminal hideout at Aliugbogho Farm Settlement in a bid to flush them out permanently including sustenance of the mop-up operation embarked upon by the Army in other to get at the illegal arms and ammunitions still in circulation in Ekoli Edda.

21. That if these facts are true as told by our clients, then there is the compelling need for the Presidency to intervene by directing further for discreet investigation, arrest and prosecution of the aforementioned suspects who have not only caused much bloodshed in Edda but have continued to terrorize and make life unbearable for our clients and the good people of Ekoli Edda.

22.While hoping that the patriotic request of our clients will be given expeditious action, we remain yours in the service of our motherland.

Yours faithfully,

Ogban, Ebenezer Unor, Esq
08033300108

Uduma denies allegations

Meanwhile, when contacted by Business Hallmark, Uduma dismissed the allegations, noting that his only crime was preventing the annexation of Ekoli Edda people’s land by the Egbor people of Cross River State.

He contended that Edda remained the most peaceful local government in Ebonyi State under his watch, while arguing that those writing the petitions against him were disgruntled Edda people who he displaced politically.

“The people who wrote the petition are a faceless entity,” Uduma said. “Their lawyer, Ogban, comes from Egbor in Biase local government area of Cross River State. This is the community that came to annex the land of Ekoli Edda people of Ebonyi State. My offense is that I refused; I resisted them and protected our land while I was council chairman.

“Our matter went to National Boundary Commission and so far all the resolutions have been in favour of the position of Ekoli Edda people. They wanted to take over a plantation set up by the then Premier of the defunct Eastern Region. He set up this palm plantation by acquiring land compulsorily from Ekoli Edda people , Urugbam people in Biase local government area of Cross River State and Egbor people. The lawyer, Ogban Ebenezer comes from one of the communities. His interest is to protect his own place, while annexing our land to his community.”

Uduma noted that if indeed he was guilty of any crime, the petitioners would have reported him to the various security agencies such as the police, the civil defence corps or the military in Ebonyi, while wondering what informed their decision to write President Tinubu.

Speaking further, he said, “The petitioners are few people who are disgruntled politically because I came on board displaced a lot of them from active politics. And I have been doing well. They cannot compete with me, so they are resorting to blackmail.

“I was council chairman for seven years and Edda recorded the lowest crime rate in Ebonyi State. So, the assertion that we’re causing insecurity doesn’t correspond with facts on ground.”

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