By CHUKS EKE
The dust raised by the shooting and killing of Uchenna Udoh, an automobile mechanic and native of Abatete community in Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State appeared to be dying down, following the ongoing peace talks between the authorities of security forces, Abatete town union, the state government, bereaved Udoh’s family and the restive youths in the area.
A combined team of security forces, including the Police, Army, Navy, Civil Defense and Vigilante Operatives had while in a convoy of routine patrol, met Udoh at Eke Agu market, Abatete on a fateful day, ordered him to come closer for a search, but out of fear, he took to his heels and one of the security personnel pulled his trigger and shot him dead, accusing him of being a member of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPoB).
Consequently, youths in Abatete, both indigenes and non-indigenes revolted at once, embarked on a violent demonstration in protest against Udoh’s killing on mere suspicion, went on a rampage and started destroying properties at the palace of the traditional ruler of the community, Igwe Charles Emeka Efobi who was not even in town.
The irate youths also stormed the palace of the traditional prime minister of Abatete (Onowu and Obi of Agbaja Quarters), Chief Pius Ezigwe and the compound of the President-General, P-G of Abatete Development Organisation (ADO), Chief Lawrence Okoye and destroyed some existing structures, which prompted the police to descend heavily on them, arrested some and clamped them into detention.
However, the monarch and town union leaders pardoned the youths and took them on bail, despite the quantum of damages they perpetrated at Igwe’s and Onowu’s palaces, to enable the peace talks to continue in earnest.
At the last count of the peace talks, the state government was said to have agreed to pay compensation for killing Udoh by the security forces out of mistaken identity.
Confirming this development in his palace during their 2022 annual new yam festival, Igwe Efobi noted that peace has actually returned to the area.
Flanked by Onowu Ezigwe P-G Okoye, Igwe Efobi declared: “Peace has since returned after the mayhem in which my palace, community Secretariat, and the house of the PG, among others, were touched by irate youths who were misled by enemies of progress”.
Also flanked by other prominent cabinet members and community leaders, including the Public Relations Officer, PRO of the Igwe-in-Council, Chief Law Mefor; chairman of the youths, Paul Okafor,; chairman of Agbaja quarters, Chief Anny Ekunie (Ugonnia); chairman of Agbaja Taskforce, Hon. Iyke Ofogu; Barrister Arthur Obi Okafor SAN, Barrister Maurice Efobi, and Chief Paul Okeke, the monarch further declared: ” peace has now returned, I can’t say 100 per cent because nobody scores 100 per cent but at least 90 percent peace is now in the community”
He commended Governor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, for his efforts in ensuring that peace prevails in the State, adding, “About six or three months ago if you are doing any functions like this our new yam festival, you will not see anybody because of fear of insecurity. I thank Governor Soludo for tackling insecurity headlong.”
On the new yam festival, he said that it was a period of thanking God for abundant farm produce and preparation for cultivation for another season, adding, “it is also a period of interaction with relations, friends and well-wishers, masquerades also display the stuff they are made of, as part of the entertainment”.
Also reacting to the killing of the youth, that resulted in the mayhem, the P-G, Okoye, the youth leader, Okafor; PRO, Mefor, Ekunie and Ofogu, noted that the mayhem was sponsored adding, “more than half of the suspects arrested by the police were nonindigenes.