The recent events at Agu-Ekwegbe in Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area of Enugu State are antithetical to what the hitherto vast land is becoming right now.
Opi Uno in Nsukka LGA, Neke in Isi-Uzo LGA, Ugwuogo-Nike in Enugu East LGA and parts of Udi LGA lies Ekwegbe community with over 26, 000 inhabitants, quoting Thaddeus Chidi Onyeke’s study which was found online.
Agu-Ekwegbe is an extension of Ekwegbe. It is relatively unhabited, and mainly used for agricultural activities because of its rich soil. The community is peaceful. A source said, “Agu-Ekwegbe is seen as our ancestors’ home: that is where our ancestors occupy, and where the living will also occupy when we pass on. We reverence it a lot.”
Of late, Agu-Ekwegbe has become famous for troubling reasons. It has become the kidnap den of hoodlums. Students of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, were last Sunday allegedly kidnapped, and the perpetrators are being trailed, according to the Enugu State Police Command.
Just yesterday, 27 October, 2022, an early morning raid by the kidnappers left former secretary to Enugu State Government Dr Dan Shere ‘waylaid’. Countless have been abducted along the Ekwegbe road overtime and got released after ransoms were paid. Some unlucky ones might have died.
The responsive promise by the security hierarchy in the state to holistically ‘comb’ the wide forest is encouraging, but it should be a stop-gap measure. Governments, natives, intelligence experts as well as investors should make Agu-Ekwegbe, including Agu-Ukehe and Agu-Opi a tourist destination.
Some tourist attractions are already emerging around the aforementioned areas. Maduka University, Ekwegbe-Nsukka, is comparable to the famous Oxford University in the UK. Oxford began in a pastoral serene setting for intellectual romances. Maduka University, with its secondary school arm already operational, with its over 500 hectares of land, and still expanding, is becoming the pivot towards turning the tears of present calamities along that road to cheers. The project should be protected like a gold mine by all.
The lakeside of the university is equivalent to Lagos Bar Beach, and capable of attracting tourists all over the world. This makes learning conducive and nourishing. The story about Maduka University, Ekwegbe-Nsukka, is for another day.
Ekwegbe has a Biafran War history that is untapped because of deliberate efforts to kill Biafra’s history and its innovations. Are you a poet? Do you read poems? Have you read about Christopher Okigbo? Do you know he was a Biafran Major, and was killed at Ekwegbe? Till today, no exact spot of where he was killed has been written about, even in the Classic Work where the likes of Thaddeus Chidi Onyeke wrote fantastic exposés about Igbo-Etiti people (let scholars emulate them to preserve our heritage).
Not just Okigbo, Biafran War enigma Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu and Ojukwu’s half brother Tom Bigger might have been killed at Ekwegbe. (This is a challenge to claims that Nzeogwu died at Obollo-Eke).
Ojukwu’s accounts show that Mr Bigger was killed alongside Nzeogwu in an ambush. Achebe’s revelation in his war memoir – There Was a Country – is that Okigbo’s death was announced at the same time as Nzeogwu’s. If Ekwegbe has this historical potential, let’s not turn it into their own ‘Zambiza’.
Security is exclusively the duty of the government. The current Mopol barracks being constructed around the black spot is a welcome development. A stitch in time saves nine stiches.
BC Aroh is a researcher.