Crisis brews in Enugu community over seniority claims

Angry youths

FILE PHOTO: Angry Youths

FILE PHOTO: Angry Youths

By Hilary Akalugwu

Crisis is brewing in Achara Community, Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State as one of the villages, Umuagwuene, says it is the oldest and will resist any attempt to change its traditional seniority position.

Speaking with newsmen after a general meeting on Monday, Mr. Micheal Ezugwu, the Eldest man in Achara Community, who is from Umuagwene village, maintained that his village is the oldest in the town.

According to Ezugwu, represented by his son, Mr. George Ezugwu, this is why the village square of Unuagwuene is used right from time immemorial for general meetings of the Achara Community.

The eldest man condemned the alleged move to recognise Amaokpu as the oldest in-place of Umuagwuene by some people in Achara.

“Umuagwuene is the oldest village in Achara Community, that is why the village square is always used for Achara general meetings and other important activities of the community.

“Even when we are in a gathering or meeting with other communities in Nsukka, it is Umuagwuene Village that takes kola nut on behalf of Achara community.

“ts unfortunate that some people want to place Amaokpu village as the oldest because the village swore before a deity; seniority is natural and cannot be obtained by taking an oath,” he said.

He urged all Achara people to see one another as brothers and sisters as their forefathers did and avoid anything that could cause a crisis in the community.

Also speaking, Chief Aniebonam Ezugwu, a stakeholder in Umuagwuene, accused Chief Peter Okonkwo, the Commissioner for Local Government Affairs in Enugu State, and also the  Chairman of Achara Constitution Review Committee, as the one who relegated Umuagwene to the third oldest village in Achara.

Ezeugwu, a former Senior Special Assistant to Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State on Market Matters, said the village was calling on local and state government to intervene to avert the looming crisis the anomaly might cause.

“The people of Umuagwuene are not happy that the constitution review committee deprived them of their natural right as the oldest village in order of seniority in Achara.

“It’s unfortunate that the committee now recognised Amaokpu Village in the constitution as the oldest village in Achara which is unacceptable.

“If this constitution becomes a working document, my village has lost its natural right as the oldest village in Achara Community and it is capable of causing civil unrest.

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“I am surprised that someone, who should be a peacebuilder, is the one promoting rancour and disunity in Achara Community,” he said.

He said that despite a certified true copy of a document obtained from National Archives that placed Umuagwuene first among eight villages of Achara Community, the committee went ahead to alter the order of seniority in the community.

“Is this document from National Archives not enough to prove that Umuagwuene is the oldest village in the Achara community?” he asked.

However, when contacted, Okonkwo said the decision to place Amaokpu as the oldest village and Umuagwuene as the third was not done by the constitution drafting committee members but the entire Achara Community.

He explained that recently, in a general meeting of the Achara Community, the two villages contesting seniority were given two weeks to bring one person each from their village to swear before a deity in Achara that they are the senior.

“Amaokpu village brought one person who swore to prove its claim but Umuagwuene could not.

“Thereafter, Achara Community agreed that Amaokpu Village should be placed as the oldest village in Achara.

“You can see that it is the entire community that recognised Amaokpu Village as the oldest village and not the constitution committee,” he said.

Okonkwo said the document from Archives was from colonial administrators on villages that paid taxes in Achara Community.

“Check that document, there is no mention of villages in order of seniority in it,” he said.

The commissioner said Mr. Chris Nwangwu, President-General (PG) of Achara Town Union, who is from Umuagwuene Village, could confirm what he said as ‘the truth and nothing but the truth’.

When contacted, Nwangwu, the Achara Community PG,  confirmed what Okonkwo said as the truth.

“Amaokpu village swore to prove its claim as the oldest village among the eight villages of Achara whereas my village, Umuagwuene, failed to swear,”  he said.

NAN