The Edda Clan in Ebonyi State’s Afikpo South Local Government Area has voiced discontent with Governor David Umahi’s perceived inconsistencies in handling the recent killings and crises.
This came as the clan petitioned the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, and the National Human Rights Commission, urging the authorities to investigate the recent deaths in the region and bring the offenders to justice.
In an open letter dated January 19, 2023, signed on behalf of the people and addressed to the IGP, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the National Human Rights Commission, one of the conveners of Edda Identity, the area’s apex socio-cultural group, Chief Julius Oji, alleged Governor Umahi was playing politics with the lives of the people.
According to the letter, “In 2020, the people of Edda, (Afikpo South) LGA of Ebonyi State witnessed a very tragic crisis that resulted in the death of many sons of Edda. These killings and worrisome situations prompted prominent sons and daughters on the platform of the Edda Identity to set up a panel of inquiry to look into the situation and proffer solutions.
“The committee, which was headed by Sir George Ukpai, the former Auditor-General of Ebonyi State had its inauguration and later its sittings at John Holt, Owutu Edda.
“During the inquiry, the panel invited all the actors mentioned as being in the know of the violence to appear before it.
In its wisdom, the panel worked feverishly to ensure that all of the players had an equal opportunity to speak and were given a fair hearing. After weeks of fact-finding, the panel produced recommendations and a resolution, which were delivered to the office of the Chief of Staff to the State Government of Ebonyi and the then-Secretary of State to the Governor on Internal Security, Mr. Stanley Okoro Emegha. A copy was also given to the council of Nde Eze, one of Edda’s 11 autonomous villages.
“Also in August 2020, the Edda Identity met with the Governor of Ebonyi State, Engr. David Nweze Umahi in Abuja and handed him a copy of the recommendations of the panel and resolutions. However, years after the recommendations were sent and submitted to the governor, there has been no response from the state government as regards implementation, hence the recommendations and resolutions didn’t see the light of the day nor did the state government intervene. The governor flatly failed in his promise to the group that submitted the result to act accordingly.”
The letter added, “In June 2020, some of our aggrieved sons had written you complaining about at least 30 cases of murder, arson, rape, grievous assaults, intimidation, etc. While the office of the National Human Rights Commission, made some attempts at investigation, the Ebonyi State Police Command never did anything. We likewise published the same complaint in the newspaper after your office acknowledged receiving it.
“Today, the governor of Ebonyi State, Engr. Umahi has again set up a commission of inquiry over the recent killings of 26th December 2022 and 1st January 2023 in Ekoli and Amoso Edda respectively.
“Our question today is why the state government setting up a new commission of Inquiry when it deliberately refused to implement the previous resolutions and recommendations already made available to him that perhaps mentioned the known same actors as perpetrators of the numerous crimes of political killings in Edda who the government deliberately refused to ensure their prosecution because they are all well known?
“Recall that on 26th December 2022, Ekoli Edda was thrown into another crisis which resulted in the deaths of three men including an Inspector of Police, and properties (a house, two vehicles, and a motorcycle) were burnt, and this incident happened in broad daylight with the same known actors perpetrating crimes in Edda over the years of this government in charge.
“Also, on the 1st day of January 2023, the same group of known actors killed a woman that was seven months old pregnant and set ablaze two buildings in the compound after failing to kill the husband who narrowly escaped.
“The most worrisome among them is that the state government is aware of these known actors perpetrating these crimes and has continued to play to the gallery, thereby setting up an inquiry commission that I seriously suspect will only act on the instructions of the state government, thereby freeing the few arrested crime actors in a no distant time.
“In this light, we are calling on you, the Inspector-General of Police and the Ebonyi State Commissioner of Police not to allow this matter, in particular, to die another death like too many others.
Most crucially, the murder of an Inspector of Police and a woman with a seven-month-old unborn child should not be overlooked, as the perpetrators of this heinous crime must be prosecuted and proper punishment meted out.”
However, in a rapid response, the Ebonyi State Government condemned the letter as meaningless and ill-willed, adding that it was intended to denigrate the government’s attempts to bring peace to the area.
Uchenna Orji, the state’s Commissioner for Information, stated this in a statement on Saturday night.
He said, “We view this publication (letter) as a substance-less distraction by a captious and ill-willed complainer, who is saddened by the truce achieved by the State Government over the rift that led to the unfortunate attack at Ekoli Edda that caused lives and properties.
“The expressions contained in the said publication are unfair and unreasonable opinions formed without enough thought and knowledge of the notion of Panel of Inquiry, with reasonings tainted by highly divisive and self-seeking aggrandisements of a man that is completely made-up in his bias and sentiments against peace and reconciliation in his own clan.”
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