From Obinna Odogwu, Abakaliki
Succour came the way of the Internally Displaced Persons in Ogiri-Idima community in Afikpo South Local Government Area of Ebonyi State recently as the state governor, Chief David Umahi, distributed relief materials worth over N20 million to them.
Umahi’s largesse came on the heels of the alleged bloody invasion of the community by its neighbouring Okporojo-Idima community on June 10, this year. In that midnight attack which Oriental News gathered lasted for several hours, no fewer than 12 persons were feared killed and about 50 persons declared missing. Also, more than 300 houses worth millions of naira, according to the residents, were razed.
The inversion, Oriental News gathered, had left the residents of the area in a very difficult situation.
Many of them lamented that they found it quite hard to feed even as many others who were rendered homeless passed through hard times finding where to lay their heads every night.
So, the governor’s largesse was like the biblical balm of Gilead that suits the pain. Some of the relief materials donated to the IDPs included cartons of noodles, bags of rice, wrappers, sleeping mattresses, among others, which numbered about 121 each.
In addition to the relief materials, the government also gave each of the 121 households affected in the crisis the sum of N100,000 each.
Handing over the relief materials to the IDPs at Government House, Abakaliki, the Umahi, who was represented by his deputy, Dr Kelechi Igwe, called on the over 130 communities in the state to eschew all forms of violence and live in peace.
He warned that the state would not tolerate further violence between families.
He said the distribution of the relief materials shall be the last time government will be intervening in intra-communal crisis.
He lamented that such exercise costs the state government so much resources in maintaining security of lives and property in the state and therefore warned that it will not tolerate anyone or community frustrating the government’s efforts.
“We are doing a lot to change the state for good and also touch lives. What security is taking from this government is so much that any other government would have collapsed because in all our border communities, there are crisis and the government has been providing security in all these flash points. The government ensures the welfare of the security agencies in these areas.
“We made a pledge on behalf of the governor and the government that we shall intervene for the survival and subsistence of our people; that we shall not allow you to go hungry.
“We have made available food stuffs and sleeping mattresses and also money especially for those of you who have mud and thatched houses. We believe that the money government will provide will be able to erect another structures that you may have shelter over your head.
“Today is the day we have set aside to fulfil that promise we made to you on behalf of the governor and government of Ebonyi State. The similar crisis had occurred in Ikwo Local Government Area, the governor intervened; Izzi Local Government, the governor intervened; it occurred in Ishielu Local Government, the governor intervened; it now occurred in Afikpo South which is yours and the governor said that he cannot close his eyes.
“They are not sufficient to solve all your problems but it is imperative that we may encourage you to know that as long as this government exists, that there is hope for you no matter how terrible the condition might be,” he said.
One of the victims, Ms Justina Arukwe, painted a gloomy picture of what the residents had been going through every day.
For her, the attack on the community was one of the sad fates the residents had ever suffered.
“We have been managing to feed. It was just yesterday that the council chairman asked us to come here to receive relief materials. So we are very grateful to the government.
“We all sleep in a house belonging to a man called Papa Lolo which was not affected. We manage there since then till now” she explained.
A community leader, Mr Emmanuel Nkama, lamented that the community has been in total hardship since after the invasion.
He said: “Our houses were burnt down and looted. Even the rice our people parked with intention to resell same to enable them offset bills in this planting season were stolen.
“Our domestic animals, cloths and other household wares were stolen while some others were taken away. Everything was vandalised by our attackers. So, we feel happy for the donation by the state government,” he said.
Contributing, the Chairman of the council area, Eni Uduma Chima, commended the government for bringing succour to the people.
He, however, disclosed that normalcy has been restored to the two warring communities.
“The relief materials are structured according to households which are 121 households, comprising over 2,000 persons who are going to benefit from the relief materials.
“We are in touch with the office of the SSA on Internal Security and we have been holding security meetings. Also, there are security men on ground to prevent further occurrence and restore peace in that area,” he said.
To express their happiness, the visibly elated Ogiri-Idima residents sang songs of praise to God in their local dialect; moving round the Government House.