Abia: Tearful Untold Story Of Communal Clash Between Azunchai(Ikwuano) and Nkari (Akwa Ibom)

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By Editor

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Nkari community inciting war against Azunchai community

The subsistent communal clash between Azunchai, a clan in Ariam-Usaka in Ikwuano LGA of Abia and Ebono Usuk, Nkari, In Ini L.G.A Akwa Ibom State has left the peace loving people of Nchai leaving with their hearts in their mouths as their antagonists intermittently launch attacks on them.

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Azunchai community fleeing from their attackers

FamousReporters gathered from Grapevine that all attempts by the leadership of Azunchai community geared towards bringing back their relationship to normalcy are like a bucket of water off a duck’s back.

Below is a detailed revelation of the bone of contention as disclosed by Grapevine.

INTRODUCTION

AZUNCHAI is an agrarian community in the southern part of Ariam/Usaka clan, in lkwuano LGA of Abia state, Nigeria and one of the fifteen villages that make up the ancient kingdom of Ariam/Usaka. She shares her Northern border with Ariam ala-ala. She is bordered to the West by Obugwu and Ekpiriala-ala. To her East are Awomukwu and Ibere clans. While she shares her Southern border with Efufa and much later, Ebono Usuk, Nkari, in Ini LGA of Akwa Ibom state.The name, Azunchai is derived from a very important stream called Nchai which our ancestors revered a lot for its crystal clear and mystical powers.This little stream was then believed to be powerful and regarded respected for its high spiritual and security importance by our ancestors. It was believed that In times of external aggressions or war, it comes in handy in offering protection to the people. It is also a place where our forefathers carried out dedication of all their children .

EARLY SETTLEMENT

In the 17th and 18th centuries, at the peak of the trans-Atlantic slave trade in West Africa, Southern coastal cities of Benin. The Aro people of Arochukwu kingdom were major agents inp rocurement of slaves on behalf of the European slave merchants. They worked in collaboration with some local chiefs who wreaked havoc in communities by instigating inter tribal and communal wars with intent to capture war captives who they sold off to European and American plantation owners. Weapons of various kinds were supplied by the Slave merchants to facilitate the wars. It was during this melee that the Paramount Rulers of Ariam Osoigwe sent out from the Opara Ibi family, three fortified brave warriors led by Mazi Akaka, Mazi Awom and Mazi Uko to go and secure the southern most flank of their territory being badly threatened by the activities of the slave merchants, and in the process they secured massive virgin lands up to Iyi Akara (longstream) which was the boundary between Azunchai and Efufa people of Ini LGA of present day Akwa Ibom state and to Ehie-okpo River the boundary between Azunchai and Ibere and Awomukwu clans in Ikwuano LGA of Abia state. When the slave and intra tribal war were over Mazi Awom, Mazi Akakaa and Mazi Uko opted to settle down there to look after their newly acquired possessions. That territory and possessions are the present geographical location today called Azunchai.

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Palm oil, a major source of income for Azunchai community

ORIGIN OF EBONO USUK PEOPLE OF NKARI, INI LGA AKWA IBOM STATE

History holds that after the Slave trade and inter tribal war, One Usuk of Ebono Okporo Nkari could not reintegrate with his kinsmen as a result of the heinous crimes he and his father Okwu committed there. Usuk absconded to Azunchai Ariam for safety and protection where he was granted asylum untill the search for him was over. When the pressure to produce Usuk was much on the Azunchai people, they found a settlement for him in the Iyi Akara, a forest near Ifufa border where he stayed safe doing farm work for the Azunchai people uninterrupted. There he stabilized and groomed families for him self known and addressed as Ebono Usuk today.

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Mushrooms, another economic product predominant in Azunchai community

ANCIENT BOUNDARY

The people of Azunchai had an ancient boundary with the Ifufa people, which ran from Iyi akara straight to Ehie Okpo River. The boundary is there from the ancient days till today. Ifufa people have never had any land or boundary dispute with Azunchai people. The Ebono Usuk boundary matter came to play when the elders of Azunchai saw that the children of Usuk were increasing, Azunchai mapped out a clearly defined area for them to settle down, live, farm and maintain their families. They equally set up a clear boundary demarcation with an Ugiri Tree as a landmark . Standing at the foot of the Ugiri Tree, were the odu, Okponkwu and ojikirishi trees planted straight line stretching up to Efufa stream (Iyiakare) the main AkwaIbom community with which Azunchai had maintained an original ancient boundary and cordial relationship before Esuk was kept on asylum. His successive generations equally kept to the terms of the ancient agreement. After the Nigeria/Biafra civil war, the Ebono Usuk survivals who knew nothing or were ignorant of the truth about where the ancient boundary, started fomenting trouble against the incontrovertible ancient boundary agreement. They went and uprooted all the boundary trees and destroyed the entire ancient landmarks and even built houses on them.

ERA OF MUTUAL RELATIONSHIPS

Ebono Usuk people complimented the hospitality of the Azunchai people to them from the era of their exile to the era of settlement of land and wealth (freedom). The age long relationship was like that of father and son.They were closer to Azunchai people than their kinsmen of Ebono Okporo in Nkari .

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Mushrooms

A NEW ERA OF TENSION AND CONFLICTS.

The Nigeria civil war caused a lot of disequilibrium in relationships between neighbors to a very large extent. Azunchai-Nkari relation is not left out. In the real sense of it, this is not to be so because the events that led to the war had nothing to do with either Azunchai or Nkari. Mistakes were made, lessons were learnt. While Azunchai had forgotten all about it, and put it behind them, our neighbours, the Nkari held strongly to it, resulting to unnecessary hostilities on Azunchai people. And following the politics of state creation where tribes and tongues were split among different states, Ebono Usuk people saw themselves more distinct and started pursuing expansionist ambitions and in attempt to reverse history went into stealing of farm crops/produce and destruction of lives and properties of the people of Azunchai. From early 1970s till today, no fewer than thirty six(36) lives have been lost and properties worth several millions of naira have been lost to Ebono Usuk Nkari youths and their mercenaries who operate with reckless impunity.

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THE NATIONAL BOUNDARY ADJUSTMENT COMMISSION.

In August,1997 the National Boundary Adjustment Commission officials led by Mr Nwanebo visited Azunchai and the disputed land and other boarder communities and after listening to all parties, took records of the boundary problems and advised that the statusquo be maintained while they submit their report and then come back for proper boundary delineation. Until this day no trace of the commission is seen and this silence aggravated the abuse and hostility of the Ebono Usuk people on Azunchai.

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Ikwuano LGA of Abia State

DIARY OF ATTACKS BY EBONO Usuk.

Between the years 1996 till 2021, Azunchai people have come under heavy and highly coordinated attacks from Ebono Usuk in five(5) different occasions. Each attack brings at its wake a mounting death toll and massive destruction of properties, including farm produce.

A. In the year 1996, Ebono Usuk launched a coordinated attack on Azunchai people which led to the disappearance of two(2) young men and a woman who went to the farm.

B. Year 2005 witnessed yet another massive violent attack on the people of Azunchai. At the end of which she lost three(3) of her brightest brains. Those were students who visited home and followed their parents to the farm. The fourth escaped by the whiskers.

C. In the year 2017, Ebono Usuk launched another major attack on Azunchai people leaving at its wake, some deaths and several others seriously injured.

D. Late 2017, another heavy attack was launched by Ebono Usuk on the hapless people of Azunchai. When the dust finally settled, Azunchai people lost eleven(11) men and eight(8) women who went to the farm to harvest cassava.
E. The latest is the recent attack which took place on the 21st January, 2021. We are yet to account for six(6) of our men and a young girl who followed her mother to harvest palm fruits around the conflict zone.

Azunchai people have made several attempts to broker peace between her and her Ebono Usuk neighbours. All the times pointing out the futility of engaging each other in a senseless war. Beginning from there ignoflate Chief Clement Iroha, our former village head, we have repeatedly impressed it upon them, the need to embrace peace due to our age-long relationships that have crystallized in intermingle of blood through marriages and traditional rites.

PEACE INITIATIVES

By the indefatigable disposition of our late Eze, HRH Eze SBN Eleogu, Village Head, Chief Okezie C. Omenihu and his very dynamic cabinet, Azunchai people have made several attempts to restore peace and tranquility between them and their counterpart.

By Famous Reporters

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