AMEJO is a Council Ward in Okpokwu local government area of Benue State and situated in Edumoga District of the area. It shares boarders with Okonobo and Ugbokolo council wards to the West, Ekeh Ward to the East, all of Okpokwu LGA. Amejo also shares borders with Ajegbe and Agadagba council wards of Ohimini LGA of Benue State to the East.

Amejo Council Ward comprises nine villages (in no particular order), namely: Ogbodo, Olanyega, Ichakwu, Ogene, Opidlo, Otobi, Ogwudoja, Ijege and Oduda. It can boast of some government structures such as Government Primary Schools established across the ward. Some of the villages like Ogene and Olanyega were privileged to be rewarded with Government Junior Secondary Schools through Benue State Universal Basic Education (UBE) Programme (though the schools could not function due to uncooperative attitudes of the elders of the host communities in the management of the schools).

Rural electrification projects have also been extended to the various villages within Amejo Ward through the efforts of some individuals and government. The Catholic Diocese of Otukpo has also situated Saint Peter’s Parish at Olanyega in order to strengthen the faith of the people. That is not all, the Ede-Ai-Abbah Market (now moribund) and Amejo Community Secondary School (now defunct) were parts of some infrastructures established in the council ward.

Electorally, Amejo people last enjoyed franchise in 1998 during the election that brought in Hon. Solomon Onah as the Councilor representing Amejo Ward in the Okpokwu Legislative House. After then till date, subsequent councilors were imposed on the people by politicians who are not natives of Amejo. This is done through the instrumentality of thuggery, inducement, incitement, and coercion of the people. It has been long the people of Amejo saw the ballot boxes in their polling units.

Amejo Ward has produced high profile personalities cutting across academia, politics, religion, journalism, medicine, accounting, law, and in the civil service across the federation. Some of these personalities are Prof. Michael Adikwu, a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Abuja; Prof Ekoja Benjamin Ekoja, one time Dean of the Faculty of Management Sciences, University of Jos, the late Prof. Benjamin Ellah, a former Rector of Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo; Dr Alleh Okpeh Alleh, a legal luminary and Principal Assistant Registrar of the University of Abuja; Mr Ameh Ejekwonyilo, a Civil Rights Activist and renown journalist with the Premium Times and the host of others.

There has been a high level of synergy among the educated elites from Amejo and the various communities that make up the ward as far back as the 1970s till the late 1990s. This led to a number of collective and progressive development efforts such as the formation of Amejo Football Club, Amejo Community Meeting, Amejo Youth Development Association, the establishment of Amejo Community Secondary School, communal sponsorship of indigent students, politics without bitterness and unanimous decision in the selection of traditional rulers such as village heads and clan heads.

At a point, this collectivism and synergy became distorted by both internal and external forces and today, the same remarks can no longer be made about Amejo as far as the happenings in the area between the late 90s and 2021 are concerned, thereby engendering a state of civil conflict, disturbance and unrest being perpetrated by the inhabitants of Amejo themselves.

The first shock that Amejo received was the calculated and successeful attempt by the villages of Ogwudoja, Ijege and Oduda to make sure that Amejo Community Secondary School was crippled. The school was situated in the heart of these three villages. Ironically, a handful of their children attended the school, while the majority of their youth were always seen loitering around the school premises to fight, intimidate and threaten students from faraway communities for reasons best known to them.

There were instances whereby the youth from the three villages would team up to harass students and teachers in the school, blocked them on their way home. However, there was never a time that the elders of the villages, the school’s Parents-Teachers Association, the school’s Board of Governors or Amejo Community Meeting had sanctioned or cautioned these youth. The elders of these three villages would be dragging land with the school before the very eyes of Amejo elders and they remained silent.

The situation continued to the point that the teachers who were mostly illustrious sons of Amejo started stealing the laboratory equipment supplied to the school by the state government. Today, Amejo Community Secondary School is no more. Those who were dragging the land with the school then are currently farming on the land, though I have not seen any positive change in their lives since they succeeded in their plan.

Since the aforementioned unifying forces eluded Amejo elders, the ward has been in a general state of chieftaincy crisis leading to a plethora of vices – betrayal, blackmail, secret plotting, lack of trust, breaking of marriage ties, division within villages and ostracism. The crisis is currently at its climax leading to the unanimous suspension of the incumbent Amejo District Head, Chief Alfred Ogbaa, by Amejo National Forum (ANF), after he was accused of high-handedness and insubordination.

The Forum immediately installed Chief Vincent Ugbeh as a substantive Amejo District Head. Recently, a faction loyal to Chief Ogbaa had come out to dissociate themselves from the purported suspension of the District Head. This has led to further twist in the crisis as the case might be heading to court in the coming days.

The solution to these conflicts is complex because they have already escalated. However, the educated elites should not fold their hands and watch the macabre drama unfolding every day. The implication is that we may not have where to call our home in the nearest future if nothing is urgent done to curtail these ugly trends. All hands must be on deck to ensure that Amejo recovers from the chieftaincy conflicts, land disputes, politics of imposition, armed robbery, cult and other violent activities currently manifesting in our once very peaceful communities.

Electorally, Amejo people last enjoyed franchise in 1998 during the election that brought in Hon. Solomon Onah as the Councilor representing Amejo Ward in the Okpokwu Legislative House. After then till date, subsequent councilors were imposed on the people by politicians who are not natives of Amejo. This is done through the instrumentality of thuggery, inducement, incitement, and coercion of the people. It has been long the people of Amejo saw the ballot boxes in their polling units. By implication, these councilors are not accountable to Amejo because they were not elected by in a free and fair ballot. The politics of imposition in Amejo has completely collapsed the democratic structure and foundation laid in the past.

The politics of imposition which is now the norm in Amejo has it dangerous ramifications for all residents of the ward. For instance, Amejo Ward is at the moment under siege of all known crimes – cultism, rape, hired assassination, highway robbery; name them. Perpetrators of these crimes are being protected by their relatives and some politicians. Today, they constitute pain and torment to the lives of the innocent inhabitants of the ward, visitors and vehicles plying the Otukpo-Enugu highway and even the dusty local roads linking the villages.

Land dispute within and amongst Amejo villages is worrisome. The latest case at hand is the land dispute at the border between Ogwudoja and Ogene which led to the loss of the life of one Godwin Ejeh from Ogene Amejo, who was shot dead on November 19, 2021, near the land border by some youth suspected to have come from Ogwudoja. Properties worth millions of naira were destroyed in the process. At present, the two villages are living in fear of being attacked despite the intervention of some traditional rulers, opinion and youth leaders to broker peace between the two communities.

In his keynote address titled: “Why is My Horse Not Wagging its Tail?”, which was delivered at the annual Amejo Cultural Day held at Ichakwu on November 16, 2019, Dr Alleh had lamented for Amejo, and I quote: “Could it be that the gods are angry, or something that is forbidden that has been horribly done or that the elders have forgotten or no longer know how to appease the land or the ancestors. Nothing appear to be working for us at Amejo while our other brothers take their turns even when we were not behind at the times of our ancestors.”

At present, all is not well with Amejo and we cannot pretend that all is well because there are graphic indicators to show that Amejo Ward is in dire and urgent need of rescue and revival from the grips of many contradictions of modernity and underdevelopment, all of which have combined to ravage the area.

The solution to these conflicts is complex because they have already escalated. However, the educated elites should not fold their hands and watch the macabre drama unfolding every day. The implication is that we may not have where to call our home in the nearest future if nothing is urgent done to curtail these ugly trends. All hands must be on deck to ensure that Amejo recovers from the chieftaincy conflicts, land disputes, politics of imposition, armed robbery, cult and other violent activities currently manifesting in our once very peaceful communities.

Alleh is an educator, language consultant and writes from Jos, Plateau State. He could be reached via: email: owoichoalleh@gmail.com or Whatsapp: 08073524949.

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1 COMMENT

  1. What a great article. Tears almost rolling out of my eyes. Our Local leaders should please wake up and stand up to their responsibilities.
    This paragraph exactly is what we need and I quote “At present, all is not well with Amejo and we cannot pretend that all is well because there are graphic indicators to show that Amejo Ward is in dire and urgent need of rescue and revival from the grips of many contradictions of modernity and underdevelopment, all of which have combined to ravage the area”.
    God bless you Sir.

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