July 13, 2024

TNN Newspaper

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We Are Tired Of Life In Exile, Displaced Uju Natives Cry Out

5 min read

Natives of Uju Community in Igburu, Ogba-Egbema-Ndoni Local Government Area of Rivers State, on Monday, December 30th, 2019 undertook a walk to draw the attention of the state and federal government to their ordeal as a people in exile, following the destruction of their community some three years ago.
Uju was burnt beyond human comprehension as a result of cult and political related unrest. The invasion and destruction of the community left the people in disarray.
Since this destruction in 2016, the people of Uju have remained refugees till date while the community has remained a shadow of itself. Uju people are generally farmers, hunters and fishermen.
TNN gathered that during the invasion and destruction of Uju, series of injurious harm were inflicted on some people, some citizens feared dead and others injured from bullet wounds.
During the walk into and round the community, not even an animal was seen, all that were left of the community were ashes and fallen walls which made the people to sob inconsolably. While some lay on the ground groaning as they beheld the remains of what used to be their homes,others took to their father’s graves.
A coalition of civil society organizations in Rivers State, chiefs, youth leaders and other concerned citizens of the state led hundreds of others to Uju community on a restoration walk in commemoration of the third anniversary of the invasion and destruction of the community.
During the ‘restore and rebuild Uju walk’ which commenced from Egbada community, it was revealed that since after the destruction of Uju, only one elderly man remained in the entire community.
According to findings, Uju people remained on exile as they have no place to lay their heads. The people are now calling on government at all levels to come to their aid and rebuild the community so that they can return home.
Among those who led the restoration walk and reacted briefly in an interview with TNN include:
His Royal Highness of Omoku Community, HRH Eze Fredrick Igwe:
I am in tears because in 2013, I came to Uju wrestling contest when I was invited. What I am seeing today is very, very disheartening. I am ashamed that we will be treated in this way, I am calling on the federal government to restore Uju like they restored Odi because it is the same event that they destroyed Odi. Uju must be restored. We have suffered enough. Uju people must come back.
Edward Eze Fredrick, former CDC Chairman
It was in my regime that this incident happened. This is my house, my building (points to a burnt house) as you can see, everything was vandalized. I have nothing, nowhere to live, we have been suffering with my family. I want government because this community is innocent, we are innocent souls, this area is my uncle’s house, the late Pius Oji, the children are nowhere to be found, we are appealing to government that we have nothing to do, nowhere to go, they should call us back and fix our community, government should come and help us, they should come and fix these buildings so that people can return, families can reunite.
We were all here when the incident happened so everywhere was vandalized so we all ran away.
Enefa Georgewill, the chairman, coalition of civil society organizations.
For us, civil society organization, we did our investigations. Immediately, we asked that we meet with some key stakeholders in the community, trying to see how we can get documentation and we were shocked, to the point that there are even documents to show that the Army have even admitted that they committed this offence. That is to say that the Army sacked an entire community. Now, all we are saying is that the destroyed community be rebuilt and her people be restored.
Mrs Mercy Nweze
Sake of this thing, everybody don run finish, don run away finish, both adult, both small pikin don run finish, we get place but we dey pay rent for another man place and some people no get money to pay rent, so we dey waka like goat for the Omoku wey we dey, we dey waka like goat, no any place to work, no any place to take water drink, cause as we dey suffer like this na so our children dey suffer, school self them no dey go, we dey suffer, farm we no dey go, food na wahala, na him be the thing wey we dey talk say make government come help us so everybody go come back, abeg, we don beg government make them come settle us, any house wey them lose for this village make them come build our house for us our children dey suffer for another place, see our school house them no dey go again, light no way, we dey for hungry for Omoku, make government try.
Mrs Blessing (late 90’s)
I wan come back, stay before I go die, make I drink water from my place, cook chop, go farm come back, sleep, baff for me house, tell my pikin, pikin waitin happen, if na die, make I die, make them burial me for my place.
Mrs ObiGod Amana
I marry to Uju man, I feel bad because they have destroyed everything I have in Uju land, both my wrappers, everything is gone, my children’s things, everything is gone.
Lady whose name was not properly captured in the recording
I am pleading with government to help us because it’s really been something else, we staying away from home for three whole years; festive period and we can’t even go home to celebrate and do what other people are doing in their places. We are seriously pleading on the government to come and help us, we have been homeless for three years now. Please, we are begging government come to our aid and rebuild our houses.
Victor Ahiakwor, Councilor Ward 7, Representing Uju in ONELGA
This community was invaded on the 31st of December 2016 by Nigeria military prior to 2015 general election, ONELGA was in turmoil, in turmoil in the sense that a lot of people were killed and many persons took to their heels. In course of preserving one’s life, myself in particular I had to leave the community, I was out of the community until 31st December 2016, I was called and informed that my community has been completely burnt down by the Nigeria military.
Ugochukwu Ahiakwor:
Government should come to the aid of Uju people, please, the suffering is enough, government should remember Uju this 2020.
Elekwachi Chinansa
We are here for a solidarity walk for the restoration, rebuilding of Uju Community, a community in Igburu that makes up the twelve communities in Igburu that was destroyed three years back, it was an unfortunate situation, the people of Igburu we deemed it necessary to come all out today in our numbers, as you can see, all the community youth presidents are all here present.

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