An 11-year-old communal strife involving Umudike and Umudike-Ukwu communities in Abia State has been resolved.
The protracted crisis followed the carving out of Umudike-Ukwu in 2003 by the former state governor, Orji Kalu.
The inter-community crisis, which was characterised by litigations, was brought to an end on the evening of December 29 with the formal admission of the maiden traditional ruler of the new Umudike-Ukwu, Ben Oriaku, into the Ikwuano Council of Traditional Rulers.
The ceremony, which took place at the palace of the traditional ruler, was attended by all the traditional rulers in Ikwuano Local Government Area, including that of Umudike, Onyekwe Anyaegbu.
In his speech, the Chairman of the council, Godwin Chionye, urged the traditional rulers of the two-sister communities to bury the hatchet and collaborate to move their communities forward.
While describing the affected communities as one, Mr. Chionye admonished them to initiate actions and measures that would promote peace, unity, understanding and cooperation between them.
Other traditional rulers, who took turns to advise the communities, included the immediate past chairman of the council, Joseph Obaji, who said that the creation of autonomous communities was meant to bring development to rural communities.
They urged the two communities to see themselves as an entity, bury the 11-year-old dispute and work harmoniously to achieve rapid development in their area.
Responding, Mr. Oriaku said that he had already initiated peace moves with the Umudike community by visiting his colleague (Anyaegbu), who, he referred to as his “father” and “business associate.”
“I have always respected Eze Anyaegbu, who I regard as my father,” he said. “We are not quarrelling and we cannot quarrel and many people do not know that we are business associates.Umudike Kingdom remains one, the carving out of Umudike-Ukwu, notwithstanding.”
He assured the people that he would work hand-in-glove with members of his cabinet to bring rapid transformation to the area.
In an interview after the event, Oriaku explained that trouble started in 2003, when former Governor Kalu carved out Umudike-Ukwu from Umudike Community.
He explained that the creation of the new autonomous community was challenged in an Umuahia High Court and the Appeal Court, Owerri, respectively, by Umudike, but expressed joy that the two judgments were in favour of Umudike-Ukwu.
On his part, Mr. Anyaegbu said that he would cooperate with Mr. Oriaku for the development of their communities, pointing out that they were still one entity under Umudike ancient Kingdom.
Highlights of the ceremony included the presentation of the new President-General and Secretary-General of Umudike-Ukwu, Philip Ukaonu and Onyemauchechi Ukoh, respectively.
Awards of Community Leadership were also presented to Mr. Chionye of Otu-uzo, Ihim Community, Christopher Ejirika, head of Awonnebo Autonomous Community, and Larry Agwu, head of Ajata Na-Igwu Community.
Other recipients of Honour’s Awards were Joseph Obaji, head of Agumba Autonomous Community and Chiananti Okiyi, head of Agbala-Ozu Community, who were recognised for their peace initiatives during the crisis.