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REFUTAL: RE: MEN OF RUKPOKWU INVADE RUMUAGHAOLU COMMUNITY

….Rumuaghaolu Residents Rendered Homeless

….Stakeholders Urge IGP To Flush Out Perpetrators

The attention of Elikpokwuodu Community of Rukpokwu in Obio/Akpor LGA, has been drawn to bare face lies titled: Men of Rukpokwu Invade Rumuaghaolu Community, with riders, Rumuaghaolu Residents Rendered Homeless, Stakeholders urge IGP to Flush Out Perpetrators Published in the Weekly Watch edition of September, 17th- 24th , 2019 on Page 10.

….Rumuaghaolu Residents Rendered Homeless

….Stakeholders Urge IGP To Flush Out Perpetrators

The attention of Elikpokwuodu Community of Rukpokwu in Obio/Akpor LGA, has been drawn to bare face lies titled: Men of Rukpokwu Invade Rumuaghaolu Community, with riders, Rumuaghaolu Residents Rendered Homeless, Stakeholders urge IGP to Flush Out Perpetrators Published in the Weekly Watch edition of September, 17th- 24th , 2019 on Page 10.

In the said publication which was apparently made to deceive the public, Rumuaghaolu people dishonestly claimed that Elikpokwuodu indigenes assisted by men in uniform invaded their land and destroyed properties/buildings running into millions of naira.

Elikpokwuodu is a peace loving community and does not engage in acts capable of causing a breach of peace.

We, the leaders of Elikpokwuodu Community state that the said piece of land which the Rumuagholu Community claimed to have won at the Supreme Court, belongs to Elikpokwuodu. The said piece of land is traditionally known and called Okporo Elikpokwuodu and not Eli Weli Ibo as Rumuaghaolu people nick-named it.

Sometime in the distant past around 700 or 800 years ago, when Elikpokwuodu people faced some financial challenges, they approached Rumuaghaolu people, their neighbour and mortgaged part of the said piece of land to them in order to raise money to solve the problem. This was done according to Ikwerre native law and custom.

In 1956 when Elikpokwuodu leaders met with Rumuagholu people to redeem the mortgaged land, they refused, but rather started playing hanky-panky business.

However, while Rumuaghaolu Community was still occupying the land by reason of mortgage, Rumuodomaya Community trespassed on the said piece of land. The Rumuaghaolu people instituted a suit against Rumuodomaya Community. Rumuaghaolu people informed Elikpokwuodu Community about the suit as the Original Owners and demanded for the Survey Plan made by Elikpokwuodu Community, which the community graciously gave to them. The said plan was tendered in the court.

The Supreme Court, relying on the survey plan of Elikpokwuodu which the community graciously released to Rumuaghaolu, ruled that the mortgaged part of the land known and called Okporo Elikpokwuodu belongs to Rumuaghaolu Community.  This was the Supreme Court judgement Rumuagholu people had been parading and holding as an excuse to lay claim to the land. The matter also went to the Native Court and the Court held that Elikpokwuodu and Rumuaghaolu own the land. But not satisfied with the judgement, Elikpokwuodu people went to appeal at the West African Court of Appeal (WACA) but while the appeal was on, Civil War broke out and stalled proceedings.

Apara Kingdom Chiefs and Elders had also waded into the matter through a Peace Panel they set up to settle the problem. They had done that by obtaining the leave of Court in Suit No. PHC553/2002 between Rumuaghaolu and Elikpokwuodu on the land. The two Communities had agreed with the settlement which was done in the best interest of the two of them, but a short while later, Rumuaghaolu Community made a volt-face and said it could no long adhere to the terms of settlement and went back to the Court.

NOW, A BRIEF HISTORY AND INCOTROVERTIBLE FACTS ABOUT OKPORO ELIKPOKWUODU, THE LAND IN DISPUTE.

Kpokwu, the 6th son of Apara had three sons, namely: Apu, Kpokwuodu and Eledo.

The land in dispute is known and called Okporo Elikpokwuodu. It was given to Kpokwuodu by his father, Kpokwu. By the time Kpokwuodu was living at the Okporo Elikpokwuodu Land, Rumuagholu people were living at a place called Bori Camp, now Port Harcourt Barracks.

The Original people that lived where the Rumuagholu people are living now, were the Rumuorosi People, the 5th son of  Apara. Rumuorosi people lived in peace with Kpokwuodu people, and when they vacated there for Kpokwuodu, their brother, it was done in peace.

Aghaolu, which is now called Rumuaghaolu came from Bori Camp where they were living and settled where Rumuorosi vacated. Kpokwuodu accommodated them in peace. He did not make trouble with Aghaolu because, his brother Orosi vacated the place for him to take possession. They had their boundary at a stream called Mini Akwor which flows into Akwaka stream. Rumuagholu people crossed the water whenever they wanted to come to Elikpokwuodu for inter-marriage and other events as boundary neighbours.

About 700 years ago, Kpokwuodu had some problems which required financial assistance. He approached Aghaolu although from Evo Kingdom, was a close neighbour for assistance. Elikpokwuodu mortgaged part of the land at the southern side to Aghaolu as a guarantee for the financial assistance and agreed the land would be redeemed when Kpokwuodu became financially buoyant.

After some years, in 1956, a delegation of Elikpokwuodu people led by Late Chief Amos Egwerekei went to Late Chief Israel Worgu of Rumuaghaolu Community to redeem the land. The late Israel assured them he would communicate their message to his people, but up till 1972-73 when Chief Israel Worgu died, there was no positive reply from Rumuagholu people.

Another delegation led by the present Head Chief of Elikpokwuodu, Chief Lazarus I. Wobo to the Late Paramount Ruler of Rumuaghaolu Community, Chief J. K. Ogbonda Weli for the redemption of the mortgaged land also failed. It was then that Elikpokwuodu Community realized that Rumuagholu people had another plan for the mortgaged land.

In 2002, Rumuagholu people filed a suit against Elikpokwuodu Community claiming both the mortgaged part of Okporo Elikpokwuodu Land and other parts in a suit No. PHC/533/2002. That was how Elikpokwuodu people now knew why Rumuoghaolu vehemently rejected offers made to them for the redemption of the land. This warranted Elikpokwuodu people to file a counter claim in the same suit No. PHC/533/2002.

While this suit was pending at the High Court in 2014/2015, recognized Chiefs in Apara and Evo Kingdoms approached the communities in respect of this matter to settle out of court. The Chiefs include, HRM, Eze Chike Amadi Worlu Wodo (JP), Nyenwe-Eli/Paramount Ruler, Apara Kingdom and HRH, Eze Barr. (Dr.) Temple Ejekwu (JP), Eze Ogba-Iji-Nu-Ede, Paramount Ruler/Nyenwe-Eli, Rumuogba Clan. They met the two communities and advised them to settle out of court which they agreed. They also went to the court on behalf of the communities and obtained leave of court for settlement. Before this time, despite that Rumuaghaolu secured an injunction that no person should enter the land, Rumuagholu people continued to sell portions of the land with impunity, which our lawyer reported to the court.

By this time, the Peace Panel set up by Apara was still taking statements from both communities. At the panel, Rumuaghaolu people were represented by Senior Apostle Bartholomew Egeonu, while Elikpokwuodu Community had their spokesman as Sir, Dr. Clifford Ndu Walter. Statements by both Communities were taken and cross examinations conducted.

The Communities equally showed the land features, marks and boundaries to the Panel. Elikpokwuodu Community presented witnesses while Rumuaghaolu did not present any. The Peace Panel after critically evaluating their presentations, took these decisions: That from SARS Road to Okporo Elikpokwuodu, from the first culvert called Mini Owhu, left hand side of Okporo Elikpokwuodu to the new Wike Road Junction down to where Rumuaghaolu people nick-named Eliwe Libo- the mortgaged area, were given to Elikpokwuodu, and from Wike Road, the same left hand side, down to Ada George where they have boundary with Rumuosi were given to Rumuaghaolu people. Now, at the right hand side from the International Market down to a point after Suntal Filling Station, through the Road leading to Ahia Wohu, where a concrete electric pillar was planted by Elikpokwuodu Community, the whole of the right hand side of Ohia Mini Mba to our boundary with Rumuekini where we have Ohia Mini Igbogo were awarded to the Elikpokwuodu people. Both Communities signed and accepted the decision.

After the Peace Panel's verdict, the judiciary was not operational that time because of their problem with Governor Amaechi and so the Panel could not report the settlement to the court. But when court reopened, the Panel relayed the report to the court, and before that time, Rumuaghaolu people had utilized the portion awarded to them.

Surprisingly, Rumuaghaolu people said they were no longer interested in the Apara Peace Panel Settlement saying the matter should continue at the court.  As at that time Elikpokwuodu people were creating roads and streets and giving some portions of the land to taxable youths in the community.

While the matter was still pending at the High Court, around May 2019, we surprisingly heard that rainfall had destroyed most of the court documents, including our own case file.

Capitalizing on this, Rumuaghaolu people aided by an Emohua indigene living in the Okporo Elikpokwuodu Land entered the land and started selling indiscriminately and destroying fences with the aid of uniformed men. They also shot and wounded some of our youths who went to develop portions allotted to them.

Not done yet, Rumuaghaolu people went to town with frivolous claims, part of which was a court judgement they claimed to have obtained from Federal Supreme Court Lagos in 1960 in Suit No. FSC/131/1960.

In the so called judgment, the Survey Plan Rumuaghaolu presented was the Survey Plan Elikpokwuodu people made when they had dispute with Rumuodomaya people on the Eastern side of Okporo Elikpokwuodu in 1954 and 1955. Boundaries, physical features, the expanse of the whole land as embodied in the Survey Plan was what Rumuagholu Community presented, which was what the Supreme Court relied upon in awarding judgment in favour of Rumuaghaolu in the disputed area which Rumuagholu people nick-named Omuodudoro or Weli Ibo Land. Rumuodomaya people had nick-named the same land Eli-Mgba Boku all of which were in the Okporo Elikpokwuodu.

As at that time, while Rumuaghaolu and Rumuodomaya were at the Federal Supreme Court, Elikpokwuodu people were at the West African Court of Appeal [WACA] with Rumuodomaya Community over the Eastern side of the land, before the Civil War broke out and stalled proceedings.

In, 2001, the Rumuodomaya people under the leadership of Late Chief Clement Ichiegbo and the present Head Chief of Elikpokwuodu, Lazurus I. Wobo brokered peace and settled amicably.

Rumuaghaolu being fully aware that they had nothing concrete to present in their claim of the land, decided to fabricate and spread lies, part of which was this publication being responded to. Their belief is that if they continue to spread falsehood, a time would come when people would believe them. But they are mistaken, because as far as we, the Elikpokwuodu people, the original owners of the land are concerned, Rumuaghaolu people would not make any headway in their claims as we have incontrovertible documents/ evidences to prove that we are the owners of Okporo Elikpokwuodu Land.