Ben Ezechime, Enugu
Mr Ogbonna Idike, former Chairman of Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area in Enugu State, has debunked insinuations of his involvement in arson and destruction of houses in Ikolo community in Igbo-Etiti council area.
Idike told Ikengaonline in Enugu on Wednesday that the insinuations that he was involved and had a hand in the burning of some houses in Ikolo community recently, in November 2023, was unfounded, misleading, wicked and mischievous.
He said that it was calculated to damage his image and pitch him against the people of Ikolo Community.
Idike said that as a well-known peace-loving person, past Executive Chairman of Igbo-Etiti LGA, with proven track record of deepening development in the entire local government, he “did not and will never participate” in or sponsor such criminal, dastardly and heinous acts.
According to him, I hereby condemn the destruction and carnage in its entirety.
He noted that the Ikolo and Lelegu Aku communities have been involved in a protracted boundary dispute for more than 60 years.
“Sometime in 2008, the extended Idike Family purchased a piece of land from certain families in Lelegu Aku community and established Ezechi Farms Ltd that engaged in agricultural products and others, such as piggery, poultry, sachet water and bottled water production and borehole for supply of water to tankers.
“This business served several communities within and outside Igbo Etiti LGA, including people from the nearby Ikolo community.
“Ezechi Farms Ltd operated the farm business in the area peacefully without any issues until sometime in 2017 when people from Ikolo Community came and destroyed farms, buildings and properties of Lelegu Aku community in the area and also descended on our farm, the Ezechi Farm Ltd operational area.
“They burnt several parts of the buildings, destroyed the poultry, burnt two big Listers/generator machines, destroyed big water tanks and boreholes and wasted properties worth millions of naira.
“We followed the legal process and reported the matter to the police, which investigated the criminal act, made arrests, and commenced legal processes against certain persons from the Ikolo community,” he said.
The former chairman said that the Idike Family, being an outstandingly peace-loving and a devout Christian family, never contemplated retaliation as that was against family’s philosophy.
He noted that the family spent a lot to rebuild and continued the poultry and water business and replaced the burnt Lister generators and other equipment and materials.
“About November 5, 2023, people from Ikolo Community came again to the boundary and started destroying buildings and farms belonging to Lelegu Aku Community on a large scale.
“It was on November 7, 2023, that they, again, moved to Idike Family’s Ezechi Farms, maliciously burnt the farm, poultry, piggery, killed and took many away, destroyed the water production equipment, the big water tankers, water boreholes and burnt all the big Lister power generators.
“All they maliciously destroyed recently is valued by a professional valuer at about N28m.
“Again, Idike Family did not retaliate but reported the matter to the state and local governments and to the law enforcement agents who have started investigations,” he said.
Idike said that, however, on Nov. 26, 2023, we received news that the Ikolo community was attacked and several buildings burnt.
“This is heartbreaking and totally condemnable. We call on law enforcement agencies to wade into the matter, do proper investigations and bring to book all that have unleashed the criminal acts,” he said.
He thanked the Enugu State Government through the Deputy Governor of Enugu State, who is the Chairman of the State boundary Committee, for his intervention and promise to deal with the demarcation and instill peace in the area.