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Gory Memories of Ndiagu Orie March 10 Tragedy: Rewound of Witnesses’ Account.

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Memories of Ndiagu Orie March 10 Tragedy: Rewound of Witnesses’ Account.

Original report: TheCable

Fidelis Ebenyi looks hastily into the open compound and makes his way inside through the backdoor. The compound and homes around it are deserted. Everywhere is quiet and the chirping of birds can be heard from a distance. Stalls at a local market opposite Ebenyi’s compound have keys and padlocks fastened to them. A farmer works on farmland a few meters away and intermittently looks around him before continuing work on the ridges.

Ebenyi, 35, had just visited his family home in Ndiagu Orie, a rustic village in Umuogudu-Akpu community, Ohaukwu LGA of Ebonyi state, after a bloody attack on March 10, 2020.

There has been a growing boundary crisis between his community and Agila, a town in Ado LGA of Benue state which shares boundaries with Ebonyi in the east. More than 10 people, including his mother Elizabeth Ebenyi, were killed in the latest attacks.

Though no one could say for sure whom the invaders of that fateful day, truly were, as they were all fully dressed in military uniforms.

Elizabeth, 60, had gone to a nearby stream to fetch water in the morning when armed men invaded the community of about 1,000 farmers and local artisans. Ebenyi who witnessed the incident tells TheCable that sounds of gunshots rang in different directions in the community.

They started killing everyone including traders who were going to the market,” Fidelis said while describing the gory scenes after the attacks. “Each person they kill, they would decapitate the person too.”

His mother was caught by a bullet and died on the spot. Fidelis adds that three more corpses were found close to his mother’s.

“Immediately we heard the sound of the gun, everybody began running away because we do not have any weapon of our own to fight them,” says Ebenyi who was at the balcony in front of his compound when the attackers invaded.

His mother is not the only family member he has lost to a communal clash. Five years ago, his elder brother was killed during a clash with the Agila people.

Ebenyi’s father was at home during the attacks but escaped through the back door. Ebenyi says he was lucky as the attackers had broken into their home with guns and machetes. When they couldn’t find anyone, they destroyed properties and razed buildings.

Nduka Egbe, 38, lives some meters away from Ebenyi’s compound. He was at the farm the day the attackers from Agila came. Currently, his home is deserted and the neighbours have either been killed or fled and never returned home.

“My heart is heavy right now because what happened that day is too much,” Nduka says. “If you look around, you would see that there is no one here at all.”

Nduka had made the risky decision to return to the village with his wife and two children — after initially escaping to the city. He tells TheCable that he had come to harvest some crops from his farm so they could find what to eat.

“I don’t know if they want to kill us all that day but God helped us to escape and survive because they killed some of my neighbours,” says Nduka who had just returned from the farm.

Nduka’s compound is within close proximity to the property previously occupied by his neighbours. But everywhere looks deserted. No one can be seen around except for Nduka and his family.

“At the other house over there, they killed two people,” he says, pointing to a semi-detached building that had been razed.

Under a mango tree in front of his compound, Egbe’s wife, Roseline, sits on a wooden bench and peeling the bark of cassava with two of her children.

Roseline, 36, says she doesn’t feel safe but had to join her husband so they could find food for the family. The mother of four says she was at home the day the attacks happened while her children had gone to school.

We heard gunshots and we all began to run for safety,” she recalls. “My husband and the children later joined us where we were taking refuge with our relatives in the city.”

With evening approaching and the sun beginning to set, Roseline adds: “We would be leaving soon before it gets dark… I am not happy with this crisis between us and Agila people because a lot of people have been killed including my neighbours.”

DECADES OF BLOODY RIVALRY

Ebenyi was not yet born when the fight between his village and Agila started. Locals tell TheCable that the communities have been engaging in a bloody communal crisis since the 1920s. Hundreds of people have been killed, homes razed, farmlands and crops destroyed while thousands have been displaced and deserted their homes to join relatives in the city or moved to makeshift IDPs camps set up by the government.

No official government visit to the area, one year after, yet!

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