Four persons from Aguleri in Anambra East Local Government Area of Anambra State were yesterday murdered and seven others seriously injured in a renewed clash between the people of Aguleri and Echeno/Odeke in Ibaji Local Government Area of Kogi State.
Since the discovery of oil in the Omambala River basin, the two border communities have been laying claim to the oil deposits.
The clashes however became more pronounced shortly after the commissioning of Orient Petroleum Refinery in Aguleri Otu in Anambra State by President Goodluck Jonathan in August 2012.
At the time of filling this report, the casualty figures on the Kogi side could not be ascertained, although information gathered by News Express has it that the people of Aguleri were caught unawares.
It was also gathered that the latest clash, which occurred at about 3:00 p.m., involved the use of sophisticated weapons, even in the presence of security operatives guarding the buffer zone created by the National Boundary Commission in the area to forestall clashes between the warring communities.
Sources traced the spark of the latest violence to one of the mobile policemen guarding the buffer zone, who had allegedly informed Kogi people that Aguleri people were in the disputed area. “Shortly thereafter, Kogi people came in large numbers, armed with dangerous weapons, including automatic rifles usually handled by security operatives,” one source said.
Monday’s attack came on the heels of a peace committee meeting held between the communities last week at Idah in Kogi State. The people of Aguleri yesterday expressed surprise that some people in Odeke were not prepared to see peace return to the area.
Anambra State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Emeka Chukwuemeka, confirmed the incident, but declined comment on the casualty figures.
According to the PPRO, the matter is being investigated at the highest level of security, adding that it would be premature for him to make further comments on the clash.
As a result of the frequent clashes in the area, the National Boundary Commission had met with the deputy governors of the two states on many occasions for the purpose of finding a lasting solution to the problem.
At the last meeting chaired by the Director General of the National Boundary Commission, Dr. M.B. Ahmad, with the deputy governors of the two states and a representative of the Surveyor General of the Federation in attendance, it was noted that the Anambra/Kogi interstate boundary was the boundary of the former Northern and Eastern regions described in the Legal Notice No 126 of 1954.
However, the people of Kogi were said to be insisting that despite the demarcated boundary between the old Kabba and Onitsha provinces, the oil deposits in the Omambala River belong to them.
The Anambra/Kogi boundary dispute had also led to a shouting match at the National Assembly, with a member of the House of Representatives from Anambra State, Mrs. Uche Ekwunife, and her counterpart from Kogi State, Mr. Ismail Husain, almost exchanging blows over the controversial oil deposits in the area.
•Photo shows President Jonathan commissioning Orient Petroleum in August 2012. What is supposed to be good news has since sparked communalclashes betwenn Anambra and Kogi states over the oil.
Source News Express