Recently, there has been reports of killings in Eha-Amufu Community in Isi-uzo LGA of Enugu state The reported killings arose from a dispute between Fulani community living in the area and the people of Eha-Amufu. Both sides have recorded quite number of casualties in the last few months.
I have been privileged to sit in a meeting where the conflict in Eha-Amufu was discussed. I was able to listen to the stakeholders from the troubled community.
However, most often when we come across trending reports of killings in Eha-Amufu between the Fulani community in the area and the people of Eha-Amufu, we often do not bother to find out what caused the conflict. From the meeting I was privileged to attend, I was shocked to find out that the dispute in Eha-Amufu is being fueled by the local politics in the community.
The community is completely divided along the local political interests in the community. Most of the leaders in the area selfishly formed gangs which they manipulate to oppress their own people. These gangs made up of mostly youths from the community work for one leader or the other. They frustrate various measures and road maps to peace, put in place to resolve the crisis and forestall further conflicts.
During the meeting, some of the stakeholders were honest. They accepted that they have failed to comply with various resolutions reached at different peace meetings in the state. One of them confessed that they have failed the governor and suggested that the community should go to him and apologize.
Eha-Amufu has many villages but the crisis with the Fulani community started with Mgbuji village. There are disputed reports that some persons from Mgbuji community sold some part of the village land to the Fulani herders who reside with them. Those who purportedly sold the community land did so without the consent of the people.
While some purportedly sold the Mgbuji land to the herders, another group organized themselves and were logging the economic trees in the village. They were cutting down trees and selling them as woods. The cost of the woods sold so far in the area amount to over 50 million naira. Those who harvested the trees diverted the money into personal pockets.
About 50 million naira belonging to the community was misappropriated. Each of these groups used the money they got to buy over the youths to protect them. They became so powerful in the community that no one dare challenge them. The ones who purportedly sold the land to the fulani herders sought collaboration with the herders against the other groups who raised concerns.They equally provided support for the Fulani herders to take over the portion of the land.
However, attempt to stop the takeover of the land by other members of the Mgbuji village led to this present crisis in Eha-Amufu. Both sides began to attack each other. The conflicts which started in Mgbuji then escalated to other villages.
Due to the disunity in the community, all efforts made by Gov Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s administration to de-escalate the crisis have not materialized. None of the groups want to concede to the other. If one faction agrees to cease fire, another faction will mobilize themselves and go for attack.
Sadly, the security agencies seem not to have done enough to stop these killings. The imported Fulani militias who come to attack the community, do so and escape without any trace. I also gathered from the meeting that the Igala community in Benue state which borders Mhbuji village usually provide cover for the Fulani militias who were brought in to attack Eha-Amufu community.
Unfortunately governors as Chief Executive Officers of their states do not have full control of the security agencies. Security agencies take final instructions from the federal government and this major challenge affects the governors from realizing their objective of decisively dealing with security challenges in their various states and Enugu share in this ugly experience. Gov Ugwuanyi is doing his best to stop further attacks on all sides but it is unfortunate that the security agencies in some cases can not act without getting confirmation signal from their headquarters.
The annoying aspect of the crisis is that some politicians who have interest in 2023 general elections are now using the unfortunate killings in the area as a campaign material. Security should never be politicized. Instead of coming together to see how, all of us can support the efforts of the state govt and the security forces to bring lasting peace to the troubled community, some politicians are using same to further divide the locals – this must be condemned.
At the meeting, the stakeholders from Eha-Amufu confessed that the major factor fueling the conflict is the local politics in their community. It is condemnable that these locals could allow their differences to lead to the killings being witnessed in Eha-Amufu community – undermining the efforts of the state govt.
Therefore, the leaders, stakeholders and the people of Eha-Amufu have a job to do to stop these killings. They should support the effort of the state govt to bring lasting peace to the community. All forms of gangs and divisions among the leaders and the people must stop.
Efforts are being made for all the warring interests including the leaders of the Fulani community to embrace peace but ndi Eha-Amufu have a role to play. They should forgo personal interest and unite the community. The idea of using the youths, arming them to protect their personal interest must not continue.
Source: AIF Media