Enugu State governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, yesterday, paid an unscheduled visit to the warring communities of Umuode and Oruku in Nkanu East Local Council and vowed to wield necessary government machinery to restore peace in the area.
It was learnt that unknown arsonists had on Saturday razed the parish house of St. Rita’s Catholic Church, Umuode. The Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Chris Ikegwuonu, was said to have been away on missionary assignment when the hoodlums struck. But the worry is that the attack might spark resumption of hostilities in the area.
It would be recalled that an age-long rivalry exists between the two communities over the original owners of the land they occupy.
Prominent sons of Umuode community, including former Minister of Power, Prof Bath Nnaji, was driven into exile following sustained attack that led to the destruction of their houses and farms. They returned only recently when the state government started rebuilding the area and assured on the protection of lives and property.
Ugwuanyi, who visited the scene of arson at Umuode, addressed community members, including the former minister Prof. Nnaji, and declared that government will thoroughly investigate the incident and do the needful to restore lasting peace.
The governor went on the interventionist mission with top government functionaries and also visited the rival community –Oruku, where he assured the people of his administration’s desire to restore peace to the area.
The Parish Priest Fr. Ikegwuonu said the attack was regrettable, noting that he lost everything in the house as nothing was salvaged.
He feared that there might be reprisal attacks, especially by members of the community, who have vowed to track down the arsonists, stressing that the motive of those who sent them to Parish house is not yet known.
At both communities, mild dramas played out when the governor addressed the community members comprising mostly women. At their respective places, the women of Umuode and their Oruku counterpart wailed uncontrollably urging the governor to intervene to avoid a repeat of the past. (The Guardian)