By Chris Nwedo
Akamanato is one of the five villages in Ifite Nteje. Nteje is made up of Ezi, Ikenga and Ifite kindred. Ifite is composed of Agwa, Akamanato, Amansi, Orukabi and Umuejiofor villages. Each of the villages has a number of communities, distinct ancestral lands and similar systems of governance. Nteje is the Headquarters of Oyi Local Government Areas. Oyi is one of the 21 Local Government Areas that made-up Anambra State. Nteje people are mostly farmers. Akamanato village is not an exception to this farming tradition. The village has comparatively vast farm lands scattered along bothers with other villages and towns.
The massive acres of land are sources of livelihood for the Akamanato villagers. Akamanato has land borders with Nsugbe, Nkwelle-Ezunaka and Umunya. These are parts of the farm lands leading to Chinua Achebe Cargo Airport. The farm lands are estimated to be between 10 and 15 thousand acres. Akamanato cherishes the enormous gifts of the vast lands. And through agriculture the people were able to produce the prominent men and women that laid the foundations of modern Nteje.
In the making of modern Nteje, Akamanato was the pace-setter. It was Akamanato village alone that produced all the prominent personalities that made Nteje prodigious and formidable, Nteje Aba-ogu. The phrase Aba-ogu describes the invincibility of Ndi Nteje. There are collaborated stories that Nteje people are indomitable, Nteje Fulu Ogwu Jun Nli.
Today, much changed in the configurations of who is who in Nteje. The grounds are gradually and progressively leveling-up to the extent that Akamanato no longer monopolizes prominence in Nteje, significantly, as in the foundation laying periods of the modernism, but still tops the chart. Appropriate foundations of progress were determinedly laid by Akamanato for so much achievements in the whole of Nteje town.
Akamanato was overwhelmed and plundered by rogue elements
Many wondered in perplexity the sources of audacity for those who racketeered the ancestral farm lands of Ndi Akamanato considering the great personalities the village is exceptionally gifted. Easy explanations were that the farmlands are vast and mostly in commercially viable positions. The proximity of the lands to Onitsha, Awka and Chinua Achebe Cargo Airport made them irresistible for billionaires with desperate courage.
Another plausible explanation has been that the appalling failure of governance, insecurity and the lack of capacities of the governments to insist on adherence to the rule law created incentives for imprudent criminals in frenzy quest for immediate wealth to literally invade the lands. Having ‘stolen’ the lands, the scammers and collaborators thought they can compromise the resistance of the villagers. The land grabbers and the traitors imposed intense violence on Akamanato to weed off opposition. The accessibility of weapons of violence were impetus for the raw and lawless persons to decree regimes of anarchy, violence and terror in Akamanato and Ifite to a larger extent. The enveloping of Akamanato by violence and lawlessness were inevitable consequences of flagrant efforts of the land grabbers to destabilize the villagers and break the commitment to stand against the invaders. The lawlessness was a precursor to campaigns of evil and bloodshed that drove away some community members who cannot endure the horror.
There were controversial assumptions that a man from Umuefi, a neighbouring village was a major source of courage and fortification for the reckless Akamanato folks used as access points to the farms. According to the victims, the Abuja-based man ensured that the criminals had enough of logistics, weapons of terror, Army and Police back-ups as they auctioned the ancestral lands imprudently. What made the Umuefi-man’s assumptions plausible were that it was practically inconceivable for the kind of people involved to be as dastardly as they were in words and actions considering the backgrounds and potentials. The scammers were regular locals, they were as relatively powerless like every other commoner in the Akamanato communities until they became emboldened, fortified and seemingly invincible with protections of the Nigerian Army Personnel and the Police. The felons demonstrated their limitless powers over the communities by taking their adversaries direct to Abuja prisons to ensure that there will be no incentive for opponents of their nefarious deeds.
The man leading all involved in the land scam was named Fabian Uwadiegwu Obi from Ezinkpu community in the Akamanato village. The alleged collaborators included: Mr. Paul Nneli (a.k.a Atiku), Remigius Anyadike,(Surveyor) Ikemefune Onyeaka (a.k.a Igwe Obi Aranmilli), Onyebuchi Onyeaka (a.k.a Area Scatter), Chijioke Oforzo Udenze (a.k.a Okonobi), Obinna Charles (a.k.a Ozugo), Emeka Nnabude (a.k.a Fiesta), Okwudili Ekwedibia, John Chidebe (Bomboy Nwoye Chidee), Ekene Nwafor (aka Otunkwo), Chukwunweike Egbuoh, Chidi Raymond (Tallest). As at this moment, the nature of these peoples’ involvements in the scandalous land scam were yet to be conclusively demonstrated. However, what remained so clear and feeding the assumptions that they were involved included the fact that they were parts and parcels of Mr. Uwadiegwu’s gangs and fingered in all the fatal violence against the villagers whose farm lands were invaded.
The origin of the crisis in Akamanato
Things started falling apart, visibly, around 2013 when some ill-disposed Akamanato folks were lured to conspire, and inspired by criminal purposes embarked on fraudulent land deals. The vast village farm lands were invaded by armies of unprincipled investors. The corrupt investors were sealing undone deals from Area Boys and faceless Akamanato conspirators. There were attempts at clear conquest of due processes in the regulations concerning lands in Nteje, Akamanato and Anambra state, yet investors proceeded. The acres of the stolen farms were ostensibly given away at an incredible low cost. Like vultures around carcass, the obviously unscrupulous investors were without calculation falling over themselves. “The whole deals were chaotic, imprudent and therefore unsustainable,” Chinedu insisted. There were valid objections and vigorous reactions against the illegalities “but the ‘blindfolded’ investors seemed to care less”, he concluded.
Violence erupted as reactions to, and became measures of stampede on all those who raised alarm over the invasions and the abnormal land deals. The violence was to rout the critics and opponents of the imprudent business into submission. Houses were destroyed, properties worth millions were wrecked, many were either wounded or killed and the others who cannot withstand the atrocities went into exiles, thus Akamanato was deserted to the frolics of the dare devils. There was a reign of terror, a deliberate campaign of violence, unilateral wars against the forces of good and virtues of the villagers. Parts of abominable acts of horrendous violence included, maiming, beating, humiliating and/or of flogging of elders of the communities that spoke against the Alu.
There are stories of some elders of the communities who were forced to take oaths of secrecy under active threats of machete cuts. The objectives of the oaths included consent to the abhorrent land deals, concealment of the conspirators and brotherhood in the misconducts etc. The elders that stood on the ways of the waves of the evils never lived longer to narrate their ordeals as many died as direct or indirect consequences of brute-like tortures. Threats of imminent violence, fear of maltreatment, rape were used to scatter the villagers and drive them away from their homes. The violence, the destruction of lives and properties used by the felons to compromise or face out opposition to the conspiracies failed in most instances.
The State, Police and Local Authorities Failed Akamanato
Akamanato parades the best and the brightest but its strength of virtue was no match to the fire-powers of its weakest members who were co-opted, emboldened and corrupted by seductions of evil. They sold their consciences and became potent tools to those who were determined to enslave them and their kinsmen. With some raps of fresh naira notes they succumbed to sinister plots against Akamanato. By means of active violence, those who gloried in the enslavement of their kinsmen than in their dignity and honour overran Akamanato but have no significant potentials overwhelmed it. There was no place for safety, and interventions on behalf of the victims failed to come, the innocent and the vulnerable were left to fend themselves. In the midst of the unilateral fierce violence many villagers refused to capitulate. They were not overwhelmed even when they had no weapon, the only armament they had were virtues of principled resistance against the evils.
The reasons why Akamanato played terribly into the hands of imprudent land prospectors were clear and also included the fact that it has not reallocated its communal land when all other adjoining villages have theirs re-allocated to individuals long ago. It was the allurements of easy money from the sales of land that moistened the appetites of the few that went into Akamanato land. Having tasted the figurative apple, there were little resistances against going into other people’s farm lands on any pretext using accomplices. Secondly, Akamanato has more vast acres of farm lands than all the neighbouring villages put together. More so, the vast farm lands are in advantageous positions. Thirdly, there are some members of the village that were too weak, corrupt and gullible. These were preys to, and good tools to the avaricious land thieves to use in accessing Akamanato farms, clandestinely.
Mazi Ekwedibia Obidi denies knowledge of the scam
According to sources available to STADT, the infiltration of the Akamanato land started when Fabian Uwadiegwu Obi formed a group of concerned villagers and approached the village head, Mazi Ekwedibia Obidi on the need to share Akamanato ancestral lands. The village head was said to have given his consent to the suggestion because other villages have already done so. This encounter with Obidi became the pretext to the dishonesties that followed. This account has, however, been denied by Mazi Obidi. The oldest man said he did not discuss any land issue with Uwadiegwu, besides, Uwadiegwu has no status in the village to support giving him forum for such discussion. Obidi said that “there is Oji-Ana and other officials of the village, these are the custodians of land matters of the village. So, it was untruthful that I gave consent to Uwadiegwu and co to invade our land. The alleged consent by me to Uwadiegwu was a pretext for the land scammers.” Obidi queried, “if I told Uwadiegwu to organise for the reallocation of the land to individuals, did he report to me the outcome of the organisation? Where are the reports of the numbers of eligible individuals for the reallocation and where are the survey plans that detailed the nature of the land? If actually the land was reallocated where are my shares and that of my family members”? According to the eldest son, “at least, I am entitled to be the first to take a share as the head of the village and the eldest son. So, the consent from me is inconceivable as Uwadiegwu is not an official of Akamanato known to me”. On the hand, the village head in several fora denied the knowledge of the clandestine sales of the lands.
Mazi Obidi decried the dastardly acts of incriminating him in the village land scam. He continuously invoked curses on the perpetrators of the crimes on the land. He reiterated that he gave no one permission to dispose the village land. Akamanato stakeholders revealed that there was no meeting, no decision nor consensus on when and how the village land can be shared. According to these, if the land has to be shared or redistributed the first thing was to survey the land to determine the size, the value and positions for facilities necessary for development of the village. Again, a census should have been conducted to determine the redistribution formulas.
A prominent member of the village, Mazi Igwebuike, remarked “that Uwadiegwu neither returned to give account to the village head on the plan for commencement of the land re-distribution nor allocated any land to him as an entitlement was a pointer to the said conspiracy. The probabilities that the man was not consulted were very high. My candid opinion is that the whole plans to enter the community farm lands were without necessary consensus. The mission was a rebellious affront that cannot be condoned”. Therefore, I considered the village head’s continuous denial of consent to the illegal deals as legitimate efforts to demonstrate his blamelessness.
Akamanato village stakeholders were unanimous in denunciation of the Uwadiegwu and co because they have no official roles in the governance of the village. The absence of the recognition as an official of the village makes it impossible for Uwadiegwu to initiate any legal movement on Akamanato land. After all, there are Oji Ana, Umu-Ama leadership and then the Chairmen of Ezinpku and Umu Anugwa communities, Engr. Tony Akwue and Joseph Nnamdi Chikendu respectively.
Preliminary decisions on the quick resolution of the land scam
In the interest of peace and stability of Akamanato, the village head and the all-relevant stakeholders in various speeches insisted that anyone who bought Akamanato land should go and reclaim the money from whoever the money was given because the village farm lands were not sale. There will never be decision to sell the lands collectively. “If the farm lands are auctioned, how do we survive eventually”? asked, Mr. Okechukwu. These farms are our primary sources of basic means of survival. “We are farm dependents, imagine the destruction of our crops and the prevailing starvation in the land because our farms have been forcefully taken away from us by unknown people”, said a woman whose farms were destroyed and crops uprooted by someone putting up a building in her farm. Mr. Obidi ordered those involved in the aborted sale of the lands to return the money to the buyers. The position of Akamanato was later re-echoed by Anambra state government’s intervention teams that made repeated appeals to anyone who bought land anywhere in Ifite to submit the papers for validation. The appeals were made through the print and electronic media for weeks.
Violence in Akamanato Village
Akamanato village witnessed non-stop violent attacks with the rising tides of strong oppositions to the fraudulent encroachment to the lands. It was manifestly clear that the objectives of the violence were to stifle voices of those insisting on due processes in the issues regarding the farm lands. The destruction of houses, the setting on fire of properties, vehicles, the injurious attacks on persons and murders were instruments used to break the resistance of those who refused to cooperate with the land defrauders. In all the violence, arson, murders etc, Nnamdi Uwadiegwu was fingered. The destabilisation of Akamanato communities were tactics of drowning dissenting voices.
In what appeared like a twist, Ikemefuna Boyoyo Onyeka, in a viral video clip recounted how Nnamdi Uwadiegwu invaded his house, attacked him, beat-up the mother, the wife, destroyed their house and rendered the family homeless. Ikemefuna said he “did nothing to warrant the raid of his house by Uwadiegwu and his unknown gunmen who came shooting sporadically”. He revealed that as he was speaking, he was on the run, hiding for his safety. He proposed that those close to Uwadiegwu should ask him “what Ifite and Akamanato people did to deserve the relentless war against them”. Ikemefuna implicated one Bomboy Nwoye Chidee in the alleged Uwadiegwu’s terror campaigns and wilful destruction of lives and properties of Ifite and Akamanato people. He however called for “rapid interventions from the government and the security because peoples’ lives have been turned-upside down due to the continuous violence from Uwadiegwu and his groups”.
One of the villagers simply known as Ekene also accused Uwadiegwu of arming corrupt youths in Nteje. He “compromised many of the youths with gifts of cars and used them for harassing our village elders and embarking on sordid violence in the village that left many families devastated”. Is it not an abomination that our old men were harassed and flogged”? He stressed that “whoever is supporting Uwadiegwu, poor or rich should realise that Uwadiegwu is doing evil, he is an evil doer”. “Uwadiegwu is a hardened criminal”, he alleged.
Sam, a villager, angrily, warmed anyone “who gave Nnamdi Uwadiegwu money for land should understand that he or she was scammed”. He threatened, “very soon the stolen land will be recovered and all structures erected in the land will be demolished”. In the determination to get everyone quiet, many Akamanato people suffered continuous brutalisation. Some died directly or indirectly in the indiscretion while properties of countless millions perished.
The Heroes of Akamanato remained resolute, impenetrable, never capitulated
Akamanato was saved from the calamities by the heroes-of-the-father-land, the relative ordinary people who choose honour and despised the evil inducements to be compromised. The saviours of the fatherland were not the Mighty that cared less but the Strong that cared more. Akamanato stands tall and proud gratitude to the ‘Revolution’ of the Patriots. Let no history give credit to the High Chiefs, Professors and Doctors from Akamanato for the victory against the ‘Goliaths’ that attempted to swallow the people and the land, but to people such as Francis Okechukwu, Joseph Nnamdi Chikendu, Tony Anasi, Hon. Brown Maduaburochukwu Ginikanwa, Chibuzo Onuama, Jerry Nwakonobi, Chigo Ogboh, Okwudili Nwokoye, Late Sunday Odieli, Late Amaechi Areh and Late Chiike Areh etc. These heroes were in the fiercest fights against the ‘Goliaths’. The Patriots held the ‘Goliaths’ on the throat with irresistible battle calls that attracted ‘Shields of Golden Armours’ from United Brothers, the United Lions. The boisterous ‘Goliaths’ were ‘slaughtered’ by the figurative swords of the Lions. The wonders of the victory were that no gun shot, no sword drawn, no one was clubbed or mobbed, no violence in absolute terms, yet the Lions ‘slaughtered’ the ‘Goliaths’. The weapon was uniquely threats of the thunderous catapult from dedicated righteous anger. Compliments must be given to Late Emmanuel Akwue (Holy War) who triggered the conflict against criminals when he was the Chairman, IDU and more recently the Chairman of Oji Ana Akamanato Late Anayo Emenike.
Akamanato never capitulated to the intimidation, the victims of the evil refused to be compromised, they rejected overt and covert inducements, and scorned every strategy to make them go in solidarity with those expropriating the lands. These patriots were committed to the virtues of right thinking and proper conducts. They have sensitive consciences that kept them reminded that evil is always evil, and must be fought against and avoided. They demonstrated that the best they can offer their fatherland was resolute defense of its boundaries and integrity. They insisted with their lives that Akamanato cannot be conquered and occupied by force and by strangers.
The intimidation by means of steady violence delayed concerted efforts for the immediate and organised united front against the ‘Goliaths’. To start with, the felons rendered the village lifeless as able-bodied members were either in exile or hiding. Every effort to converge meets Police arrest and various degrees of detentions. Engr. Tony Akwue, Nnamdi Chikendu, Hon. Brownson Maduaburochukwu Ginikanwa, Chibuzor Onuama, Tony Anasi etc were regularly detained by Nigerian Police allegedly on the orders of Nnamdi Uwadiegwu. The only known crimes committed by the people were uncompromised war against man’s inhumanity to man, the involuntary displacement of Akamanato villagers with absolute strangers, by illegitimate auctioning of the lands. They refused to work in solidarity with felons killing and maiming the kinsmen.
Akamanato village had nowhere to seek protection or respite from the unilateral wars of attrition from one of its own. Mr. Uwadiegwu moves with Mobile Police Officers and Soldiers. There was an impression that Nigerian Police, the Army and security personnel run errands for him. The security officers, allegedly, aided and abetted many crimes against Akamanato communities. A source claimed that all the people used by Uwadiegwu for the dastardly offenses against kinsmen were known and identifiable, but these were sacred cows as much as the ring leader, Uwadiegwu. They have comprehensive Police protection. “Their god-father, the Abuja based Umuefi man established contacts for the syndicates in Force Headquarter Abuja. This explains the reasons behind the detentions of the Akamanato villagers in Abuja”.
Nnamdi Uwadiegwu was transformed by Erikife
For Chilote, “the ‘wonder’ in Nnamdi Uwadiegwu was created by Ikechukwu Erikife from Agwa and Ngoesina Okechukwu from Iruatu. The disposition of Nnamdi Uwadiegwu made him attractive to all conspiring against Ifite people and the lands. Erikife remained a deeply controversial figure in Ifite. He has considerably an undesirable reference due to sordid land deals that classified him as an active crook, an insatiable troublemaker”. Erikife co-opted his relation Ngoesina, and he became a vigorous partner in many, alleged, frauds against lands in Ifite, Nteje. And in a clandestine gathering of co-conspirators proclaimed Uwadiegwu Ifite Youths’ Chairman. Agitations against the illegitimate conferment did not subside before Uwadiegwu was weaponised as an access point to Akamanato farm lands.
According to Ifeka from Umu-Ogada, “the very first of the exposure of Uwadiegwu to land related deals was the appointment as Ifite Youths’ Chairman. Erikife and Ngoesina encouraged Uwadiegwu to go into Akamanato land, they made him ‘unstoppable’ by providing him support back-ups. Uwadiegwu grew and became capacitated by the criminal structures of influences Erikife built over time with his association with the Abuja based business from Umuefi”. The Umuefi man, allegedly, micro manages plethora of trouble making groups in Nteje town through proxies, groups and notably a man named Atiku. He uses the unscrupulous groups for politics and exportation of unwholesome influences in Nteje”.
Anayo, one of the guys deeply infuriated by the way Uwadiegwu, allegedly, destabilised Akamanato said “Fabian Nnamdi Uwadiegwu Obi was a former Ifite Youths’ Chairman, he was not that of Akamanato. This association due to notoriety has been outlawed. He has no recognisable role in the leadership structures of Akamanato. Chairmanship in Ifite is devoid of any right over land in Akamanato village. We already have custom-ordained upholders of land in Akamanato as it is the case in every village in Nteje. The custodians are called Ojiana. Land related issues belong to Ojiana Akamanato and the elders”. For Anayo, “Igbo society is gerontological. In Akamanato, elders rule the communities through the instrumentalities of Oji-ana and Umu-ama. The elders confer legitimacy to anyone to administer the communities in the village”. “So customarily speaking, it is inconceivable that Uwadiegwu was endorsed to go into the village land on any pretext”. “Mazi Obidi the eldest son of Akamanato and Mazi Obi Chikendu have in several meetings collectively and individually denied giving Uwadiegwu an excuse to go into the land”. Anayo stressed that “in the meetings convoked during Christmas 2022 and Easter 2023 to calm the frayed nerves and find solutions to the unfortunate crisis in the village, Obidi claimed he never had conversation with Uwadiegwu and his groups on issues of land redistribution because such was a violation of established protocols, and impracticable. On the two separate occasions Obidi repeatedly swore with his continuous headship of the village and his life against Uwadiegwu for going into the village farms with criminal intents, incriminating him and throwing Akamanato into unprecedented violence”.
Mazi Obidi said, “what was witnessed in Akamanato was quite a deliberate fratricide, an abomination. Houses were burnt, properties destroyed while many were either maimed or killed. The village has been deserted by our people. Our sons and daughters have all ran away to escape violent storms of a ‘common fly’. Fabian Uwadiegwu being nobody and was still what he was, but has just been given weapons and courage to move with impunity. Imagine the rabble protected by Nigerian Police, the Army and the DSS. He remained invincible because he makes money in the land scam and shared with the security people”.
The infamous roles of the security
In the minds of the victims of the scandalous episode, Nigerian Security Institutions were deeply compromised. “They aided and abetted the crimes. Paid or bought over, they were actively involved in the sales of the land and the sharing of the money judging the roles they continued to play. They were Uwadiegwu’s orderlies, and he gives them instructions on whom to pick-up and detain and where to detain anyone”, our source said. “The security personnel were not impartial, they were part and parcels of the crimes”, the source concluded.
Akamanato’s strength is in determination to do right
Like David, Akamanato, rose from self-pity aware that the battle was his alone, encouraged himself, mobilised his catapults of determinations and matched-on in fury against the ‘Goliaths’. Akamanato has no guns, no god-fathers, no funds but he has the fearlessness and the fate of a just fighter. He refused to be scared by the threats and terrors of those who considered him effeminate, bold less, tactless and pauperised. The courts’ doors were closed against him and the ones that accommodated him gave him no justice because he has no money to pay. The more he gathered his slings the more the ‘Goliaths’ barked, threatened, invaded and scattered his plans but he remained undiscouraged and unconditionally focused.
The cardinal principle of the Akamanato struggle was that ‘no one fights successfully for what is rightly his with an incomplete commitment’. In the struggle, the two hands were engaged. The commitment was full, the fight was intense and the slings were loaded. The new entrants into the fight came charged, seemed unstoppable and well-armed with the convictions that the chicken was approximately cooked. The intense commitments levelled the mountains of fears and lacks. The new champions of the struggle Ikechukwu Odili spittle magical fires enveloping everyone with feverish search for what to do to help. No one has anything he cannot give. The Vice, Kenneth Udefi was bold, calm and calculated. Udefi remained a solid force of dedication. Akamanato is profoundly indebted to T. Boy, Kalia Ozo n’Aborgu. The list of those that comforted Akamanato is long. It is a story of success that the villagers are now waving flags on the graves their oppressors.
When the Police authorities scolded Akamanato for standing formidable against threats to the lives of the people, the courts and judges disowned the appeals for justice, the Anambra state government intervened. Like Joseph, His Excellency Governor Soludo beheld with profound pity the suffering of the people and consoled them by burying the ‘Goliaths’ with their might. Today, Akamanato struggles for the right to ancestral lands produced gold fruits and Ifite Nteje has buried the troublesome ‘Goliaths’ for ever.