The people of Oruku community in Nkanu East Local Government Area of Enugu State have sent a distress message to Governor Ifeaanyi Ugwuanyi following an alleged move to demolish over 100 residential houses as part of the settlement terms in an age-long dispute with their Umuode neighbours.
reports that the conflict, which had lasted for several years, was recently said to have been resolved following a peace process initiated by Governor Ugwuanyi.
However, it appears the last is yet to be heard as the people of Oruku have now cried out, lamenting that it was now facing extinction.
In a letter written to the governor on their behalf by their lawyer, J. O. Nwatu, titled, “Oruku Community: Where do we go from here?”, they painted a sad picture of the injustice they were presently facing in the area.
They noted that despite a court order halting the implementation of the Government’s white paper on the Report of the Committee on Enumeration and delineation of Houses and buildings between Oruku and Umuode communities, their neighbours, in connivance with security operatives and some government officials, were set to bring down their homes in the name of boundary delineation.
The letter read in full:
“We are Solicitors to concerned members of Oruku Community in Nkanu East Local Government Area of Enugu State, and we write on their behalf and instructions. Our clients’ instructions are:
That despite the disposition, efforts and sacrifice made by Oruku people towards a peaceful and equitable resolution of the lingering dispute between them and Umuode people, the State Government has overtly manifested bias and has always skewed all Government’s policies and actions towards its resolution, and deployed the machinery of Government against Oruku people.
That their disposition to law, order and quest for justice had always impelled them to explore civil and democratic measures for determination of such disputes in a civilized society, hence they had instituted actions in court to afford the parties the opportunity to exhaustively ventilate their grievances and enable the court give appropriate judgment in respect thereof.
That as far back as 1985, some prominent members of Umuode had boasted that they would use their resources and vast connections to ensure that at the end of their struggle with Oruku, Oruku Community would cease to exist and the prevailing Government actions amply support this threat.
That the Government’s white paper on the Report of the Committee on Enumeration and delineation of Houses and buildings between Oruku and Umuode communities is still being challenged at the High Court, Enugu, in suit No HAGB/271/2009. The court had made an order of injunction restraining Enugu State Government from ejecting Oruku people from their houses and ancestral homes pending the determination of the substantive suit which was adjourned to the 25th day of September 2019 for hearing.
That, inspite of the above, from Thursday, the 5th day of September 2019, an intimidating number of both police and military personnel had been stationed at Eziobodo and Uzam Villages preventing Oruku people from accessing their houses and witnessing the malicious balkanization of their community as caterpillars and bulldozers have been deployed for the purpose of demarcating and delineating Oruku land to be forcefully ceded to Umuode. Our clients are asking: if Court orders are no longer obeyed, where do we go from here?
That apart from the court injunction, some concerned Oruku people had instituted a suit at the Agbani High Court in Suit No: HAGB/16/2019 while serving pre reaction notices on Enugu State Government, the Secretary to Enugu State Government and the Surveyor General of the state expressing their intention to seek for court order declaring that forcefully expropriating Oruku people of their land and ceding same to Umuode; forcefully dislocating or displacing Oruku people from their ancestral homes to be taken over and occupied by Umuode people constitute infringement of their rights guaranteed under the 1999 constitution of Nigeria.
That Oruku people were further to ask the court for an order restraining the Government from implementing Government policy or decision whereby 30% of Oruku land would be ceded to Umuode as against their fair share of 21.7% or in the alternative to relocate them to Abali land which is a virgin land with the capacity to accommodate Umuode people comfortably.
That such notice is a call on the Government to take appropriate remedial action to cure the injury complained of. It was an attack, a confrontation or an abuse but a civil and democratic procedure.
That unfortunately, and in disregard of all democratic norms and practices, neither the pre reaction notice nor the injunction from a court of competent jurisdiction yielded any positive result. 10. Since the 5th of September 2019, an intimidating number of both Military and Police personnel had been stationed at strategic locations at Eziobodo and Uzam Village in Oruku Community and heavy machinery including tractors and bulldozers moved into action, pulling down some economic trees and destroying farm lands for the purpose of delineating and creating boundary between Oruku and Umuode Communities.
A fair and just boundary demarcation between the communities would not have been unacceptable, but the present exercise appears manifestly unfair, unjust inequitable, malicious and vindictive, and has the propensity to destroy Oruku permanently in that upon its completion; a) Oruku would have been completely hemmed and tucked in
between Umuode Communities and would not have any access to Enugu metropolis through their hitherto boundary neighbors.
Many of Oruku homesteads and ancestral homes would now be forcefully ceded to Umuode. Oruku people are being prevented by security agents from accessing or witnessing the purported demarcation exercise, and therefore, cannot make any input even where their interests are being adversely affected. That there has been an orchestrated effort to incriminate, harass and intimidate Oruku Sons in and outside National Service through malicious and baseless petitions just to cow the people into submission.
We therefore sincerely appeal to you to halt this exercise which is already generating serious concerns amongst Oruku people, more so, when the issues relating to the exercise are already pending before the High Court at Agbani. It is one of the hallowed democratic practices that once a matter is sub judice, parties are enjoined to refrain from actions that detract from the powers of the court Thanks, in anticipation of your usual disposition to do justice.”