January 22, (THEWILL) – The Ebonyi State Government and the Edda clan in Afikpo South Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, have been in a war of words over the killings in the community.
The group has expressed displeasure over Governor David Umahi’s alleged inconsistency in his handling of the killings and crises rocking the area.
In an open letter to the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; and the National Human Rights Commission, the group urged them to probe the killings in the area and bring the perpetrators to justice.
The open letter, signed by Julius Ama Oji, accused Umahi of 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.
Oji said the Committee submitted its report to the State Government, which promised to act on its recommendations but nothing was done to date.
He said, “Today, the Governor of Ebonyi State, David 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 is 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 who was seven months 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 importantly, the killing of an Inspector of Police, and a woman with seven months old unborn child shouldn’t be glossed over as the prosecution of the perpetrators of this evil act must be held, and adequate punishment meted.”
But in a swift reaction, the Ebonyi State Commissioner for Information, Uchenna Orji, described the letter as substance-less and ill-willed, adding that it was targeted at demeaning the efforts of the government at bringing peace in the area.
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.
Orji said that Mr Ama Oji’s reasonings on the matter are tainted by self-seeking aggrandisement and completely made-up biases and sentiments against peace and reconciliation in his own clan.
The Commissioner noted that the 2020 panel and its report were not backed up by law, hence the State Government could not act on it.
He noted that the Police following orders by the State Government have embarked on a manhunt for the perpetrators leading to the arrest of many of them.
He urged Mr Oji to provide the police with information about those he claimed are perpetrators of the crimes or he will be deemed to be concealing crimes committed under his knowledge.