Over 200 houses destroyed, scores displaced as land dispute tears community apart



Uba Group

Natives of Izzi community in Ebonyi State have cried out to the state government and other stakeholders following the constant attacks and destruction they have suffered over their disputed communal land.

The victims, who are of Unwuera kindred, said over 200 of their houses had been allegedly destroyed while many of them had been displaced and injured by their kinsmen from Igbojima kindred. They claimed that the Igbojima wanted to grab their land because some of their sons recently got elected into various political offices in the recently held general elections in Ebonyi State.

It was gathered that the problem started as a result of the people’s tradition in Izzi clan where every man who has come of age and gotten married is usually provided with a piece of land by the villagers at their communal landed property.

Unfortunately, the agelong arrangement turned sour as a particular family in the area, headed by Okuku Ede,allegedly began to lay claim over the land, which had hitherto been allotted to many people.

The Point learnt that prior to the crisis, the matter had been reported at Randa Customary Court in Ebonyi Local Government Area and Abakaliki High Court in the year 2020, where both parties were still awaiting the outcome of the judicial process.

Both Unwuera and Igbojima are the kindreds that cut across the entire Izzi clan.

The village head of Ndiefi Ishieke, Sunday Eze, said there was no problem in the area until December 27, 2022 when the council chairman, Chinedu Uguru, allegedly came to the area and removed him from his position simply because he belongs to Unwuera kindred.

He said the people, however, resisted this based on the fact that there had been an existing zoning arrangement between the two kindreds over their leadership issue.

A stakeholder, Dr Benjamin Nwoba, said that before the incident, he, alongside others, were invited by the police at the SWAT section of Ebonyi State Police Command, Abakaliki on March 30, 2023 over the communal issue.

Surprisingly, he said a family of Okuku Ede from Igbojima kindred began to claim ownership of the property and as a result, they started to foment trouble over the issue.

“Once a male grows and gets married, it has become an onus on the part of the village that the person will be provided with a piece of land from the communal land, even the same measure was applied to Okuku Ede’s family because where they are living today was given to them by the villagers.

“Based on the alleged troublesome nature of the family, they went to another portion and constructed a small hut inside the expanse of land, mainly to lay claim to that area but the villagers objected to their plan,especially when it was discovered that Mr Ede and the rest of the family members were making an arrangement to bury one of their late brothers, Late Christopher Ede, in the same contentious portion, and on that note, some stakeholders were invited by the police.

“We were invited by the police as the Ede’s family had planned to bury the deceased on 31st March, 2023 but the police officers, on their part, appealed that the burial should be allowed and we agreed without knowing that the same people had concluded plans to attack many of us who belong to Unwuera kindred,” he explained.

He disclosed that shortly after the burial, around 2:00am, some suspected war mercenaries, numbering over 50, who were allegedly imported from another state by a member of the Igbojima kindred and serving military personnel, Nwabueze Igboke, started attacking every beneficiary of the communal land and ended up destroying over 200 houses and injuring 11 persons.

“I signed an undertaking at the SWAT office that my people would neither confront the bereaved family nor cause problem in the area without having the knowledge that the Chairman of Ebonyi LGA, Barr. Chinedu Uburu, had instructed his fellow kindred men to attack us. It was a coordinated attack, which lasted for days against every occupant of the communal land. The mayhem was supervised by the council chairman throughout the period.

“It was as a result of the support given to the attackers, led by Mr Nwabueze Igboke, that made the people to be moving from one house to another inflicting matchet cuts on their targets and destroying houses. Based on the peaceful disposition of the Unwuera people, we decided not to retaliate because the forefathers of the two kindreds were step brothers,” he noted.

Nwoba further alleged police officers’ complicity in the crisis as he argued that the cops could not stop the destruction between the 30th March and 1st April 2023 until the attackers became satisfied with their action after they had allegedly damaged 43 compounds comprising more than 200 houses and rendered all the occupants homeless.


He added that the village was peaceful until the victories of many Igbojima people in the recently concluded general elections when some of the members who felt that they had arrived began to cause chaos in the community.

Nwoba appealed for government’s intervention over the mayhem to enable the displaced persons return to their various homes.

“I am also calling on the council chairman to rebuild the damaged houses and I beg Unwuera people not to go for reprisal attack because no matter the gravity of the havoc, we are still one. I am appealing that the government should arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of the heinous crimes against my people,” he said.

One of the victims of the attack, Romanus Njoku, said some men allegedly led by a soldier, Mr Nwabueze Igboke, stormed his house and pulled down the structure. Another victim, Ikechukwu Nwogbodo, also said that his building, motorcycle and other valuables were damaged by Igboke and his group who were also accused of carting away other valuables from his home, including cash of N100,000.

When contacted, the Ebonyi LGA chairman, Uburu, denied complicity in the attacks and shooting, saying he only received a phone call from someone who told him that some soldiers were harassing some people in the area.

“As the council chairman, how can I begin to make trouble in my area and even as I am addressing you now, no one has brought complaint to me over any destroyed property and if there is such, I have yet to receive an official report in that regard. Whoever that is accusing me over the incident is simply looking for cheap blackmail because I do not have an idea of any destruction in the area,” he said.

Uburu, however, promised that he would do everything within his power to ensure that peace returns to the village.