From Paul Obiajunwo , Port Harcourt
The murder last weekend of a councillor representing Ekporo Ward 5 in Eleme Local Government of Rivers State, Hon. Nelson Ogbuji, is threatening to worsen an already tense situation in the area.
Ogbuji was allegedly murdered by unknown gunmen who ambushed him as he visited the area to see the level of damage done by their attackers.
Our correspondent gathered that the death of the late councilor, who doubled as the Chief Whip of Eleme Local Government Legislative Assembly has aggravated the lingering land dispute between Ekporo community in Eleme Local government Area and neighbouring Ogu community in Ogu/Bolo Local Government.
The people of Eleme last weekend in a press briefing accused the people of Ogu of killing the lawmaker and vowed for reprisal attack.
Chief Samuel Obe, the Paramount Ruler of Ekporo community told our correspondent that the community had noticed that the resumption of attack on his people by the people of Ogu over the disputed land made them to petition the Police Commissioner, Mbu Joseph Mbu, asking him intervene to avert lost of lives and properties.
The Ekporo Monarch accused the people of Ogu of being responsible for the murder of the lawmaker.
“Ogu people killed our son, they were the ones attacking my people on that land, I don’t know why they resumed attack when the said land belongs to us. I think Police inability to respond fast on this crisis also contributed to the attack and killing of my people,” he said.
Chief Samuel Obe said Ekporo community became tensed when youths of Ogu numbering over 200 invaded the area shooting sporadically, a situation, which he said forced members of Ekporo community living close to the disputed land to flee.
“I have been shouting before now that the way things are going our rivals have plans to murder members of my community. They have killed one of the futures of this community but they have murdered sleep and they will sleep no more,” he said.
A colleague of the late councillor, Hon. John Ngelale, alleged that the killing of the deceased was politically motivated.
“It was the brother of a prominent politician in Ogu who is interested in the land dispute that supervised the killing of the Lawmaker, we know them but they will soon be exposed,” he said.
However, in a its own reaction, the Elders and Chiefs of Ogu community have accused Ekporo community of attacking members of their community, alleging that two of their sons presently missing were abducted by Ekporo community over the disputed land.
Chief Emmanuel Ibiorika, Chairman Ogu Divisional Council of Chiefs said: “The people of Ekporo have abducted two of our sons Ibunemisa Obie and Stephen Oju who are yet to return home.
He claimed the people of Ekporo were settled in their present location by Ogu people.
“They migrated from Ogoloma in Onne. They suffered ritual banishment. In fact, they were refused acceptance by Ebubu people who are their Kith and Kin. They came to Ogu through one of our elders who introduced them to our forebears. In our spirit of magnanimity, our forebears accepted and kept them on an island called Oguchuku.
“After a while, they complained of starvation as they could not fish and wanted a bush where they will farm.
“We want to state clearly that there was never a time my people killed or attacked the people of Ekporo who have no boundary with us as they claimed. They are liars and cannot intimidate us over this issue when the land in question is our land.
“We are appealing to the Rivers State government, the security personnel and other relevant authorities to plead with Ekporo community to release two of our sons abducted at the disputed land,” he said.
The State Police Public Relation officer (PPRO), Ahmad Mohammad, who confirmed the incident reacted that Police is doing everything possible to prevent further bloodshed over the disputed land.
“We are aware, right now police has taken over the disputed land, normalcy has returned, though the killing took place before the arrival of the police but we are doing everything possible to stop further attack and blood shade.”