No fewer than five men are lying critically ill at hospitals in Enugu following injuries arising from a communal clash over land dispute between two neighbouring communities.
The communities engaged in the clash on Saturday are Ogui Nike and Ugwuaji in Enugu North and Enugu South Local Government areas respectively.
Four of the victims Ebuka Edeh, Emmanuel Edeh, Onyeka Agbo and Nkemjika Mbah are receiving medical attention at Hope Care Medical Centre, while Arinze Edeh who faces amputation of his leg is st National Orthopedic Hospital Enugu.
According to an eyewitness, Mr Godwin Ugwu, the trouble started at about 11:30am on Saturday when youths from Ugwuaji community invaded their ancestral land at Premier Layout Extension, Owor.
Ugwu said that on getting to the said land which is under dispute, they saw five earth-moving equipment that were pulling down structures, including fences and buildings that were still under construction.
He said that some soldiers who are providing security and surveillance on the disputed land did nothing to stop the youths from Ugwuaji from either demolition of the structures or attacking the owners.
“They boasted that they have the support of the state government and there is nothing we can do about it,” Ugwu said.
Also, the President General, Ogui Nike Community, Mr Paul Anike, said that they suspected the state government’s complicity in the fracas and forceful takeover of their ancestral land.
Anike said that the state government had on Sept. 9 summoned the two communities during which the two communities are instructed to keep away from the land pending the examination of documented evidences.
The president general said that while Ogui Nike Community obeyed the directive by the state government, “serious construction work was going on by those supported by the government with soldiers guarding them.
“They have been intimidating us with police and other security agencies,” he said.
However, an elder in the community, Chief Samuel Ani, said that they were told that the state government had taken over the land.
“The information we have is that the state government has an interest in the land but our community will rise to protect itself if nothing is done to stop the invasion.
“Government has forcefully taken over many of our ancestral land. We no longer have farm land and source of water,” Ani said.
Meanwhile, the Medical Director of Hope Care Medical Centre, Dr. Sam Ngwu, said that the condition of some of the victims was not looking good.
Ngwu said that some of them would need head scan to ascertain the extent of damage on their skull.
“I am worried. The situation is very bad,” Ngwu said.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Enugu Police Command, Mr Daniel Ndukwe confirmed the incident.
Ndukwe said that though no arrests has been made but the police was on top of the situation.
Also, the Public Relations Officer (PRO), 82 Division Nigerian Army, Col. Aliyu Yusuf confirmed that some soldiers were deployed to maintain peace in the troubled area.
Aliyu, however, said that the military was neutral on the matter and not supporting any party in the dispute.
However, the Commissioner for Lands, Mr Chukwuemeka Nnam, said that he was not aware of any land dispute involving the two communities.
Nnam said that he had never attended any meeting where issues pertaining to the land were discussed.