…Demands independent Judicial Panel of Inquiry to probe killings
By Tobias Lengnan Dapam
A group, Association of Ebonyi State Indigenes in the Diaspora (AESID) has called on the Inspector General of Police and the Director-General of the Department of State Security Services (DSS) to intervene and quickly bring to an end cases of political violence and killings ongoing in Asaga Owutu Edda in Afikpo South Local Government Area of Ebonyi state.
The association also demanded that the state government should be made to “institute an independent Judicial Panel of Inquiry to probe the causes of the killings in Edda, if the government is sincere about finding a lasting solution to the problem.”
Recall that the Ebonyi State Police Command confirmed the arrest of the council chairman of Afikpo North Local Government Area, Eni Uduma and the lawmaker representing Afikpo South East Constituency, Chidi Agemu, over alleged involvement in cult clashes recently.
In a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja on Saturday and signed by the Chairman of the Association and a political activist, Ambassador Pascal Oluchukwu, condemned what he described as “the acts of banditry, terrorism and killings which have been imposed on Edda clan since the current democratic/political dispensation in the state.”
Oluchukwu lamented that “the denigration of Edda politics to this level of outright and shameless political criminality dates back to sometime around the year 2007 when people of doubtful character entered into Edda/Ebonyi political horizon as political adventurers and merchants of death. Now, we can look back and note that their outing in the field of politics has destroyed Edda and relegated her into a state of mournful and regrettable degradation with their own political careers relapsing into shameful monumental tragedy.”
While giving background to what he called political terror in the Edda area, the association chairman said findings by his group revealed that there is a group in the area allegedly working with the current Chairman of Afikpo South Local Government “terrorising and specialising in torture of innocent citizens, beating of people with Koboko horse whips imported from foreign countries, among others.”
On the recent killings in the area, the association said: “On the 27th March, 2020, a 19- year old boy, Chidi Oji Arua was killed at Nguzu Edda. It was alleged that some officials of the Afikpo South Local Government COVID-19 Task Force went to Nguzu to enforce the Government policy banning burial of corpses as part of the COVID-19 lockdown. Some villagers resisted and the Personal Assistant to the Council Chairman, Keneth Agha Okoro (aka Mukoro) was rough-handled. He was said to have gone back to base to alert his group who went to Nguzu Edda to unleash mahem and Chidi was found lying dead after sporadic gunshots.
“From Sunday, 3rd May, 2020 to Wednesday, 6th May, 2020, three young men from Owutu Edda were murdered in cold blood. The first boy, Onu Chima Ukpai, was shot dead by an alleged member of a rival cult group. Then on Tuesday, 5th May, 2020, one of the boys, Chinedu Offor Ufere, who was wounded during the Sunday attack and was hospitalized, died. Then again, on Wednesday, 6th May, 2020, one Jarun, the elder brother of the boy who was killed on Sunday, went on a revenge mission and killed one Raphael Okereke.
“The recent killings in Edda reflect the brutal and crude political culture of violence and blood-bath which has been used as an instrument of political domination of the area. It is an extension of the regime of terror, thuggery, intimidation and gangsterism. It is aimed at conquering the people by instilling fear into them for political imposition and exclusion,” the association said.
The association noted that the immediate causes of the bloody confrontations can be traced to three recent events which heightened tension in the major flash-points of the LGA. The events are the sharing of political offices in the LGA in 2019, conduct of the 2020 Chairmanship and Councillorship primaries and the composition of the COVID-19 Implementation/Enforcement Task Force in the LGA.
The Ebonyi state indigenes, however said governor Dave Umahi’s statement recently blaming the Police and SSS for their inability to have predicted the killings and to have stopped it is neither here nor there.
“The Governor should immediately institute an independent Judicial Panel of Inquiry to probe the causes of the killings in Edda, if he is sincere about finding a lasting solution to the problem.
“We will also wish to call on the Federal Government and the Human Rights Organizations in Nigeria to wade into Ebonyi state and engage the government of Umahi to forestall further bloodshed in the area.”