*condemns neglect of Airport project victims, insecurity
By KATO P. LADAN, Kaduna
The Association of Ebonyi State Indigenes in the Diaspora (AESID) has asked the new leadership of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) under Abdulrasheed Bawa to beam its search light on the activities of Ebonyi State Government, described as ‘shrouded in secrecy.’
The group also condemned what it called “abandonment of Ezza natives in Okaleru, Ezza North Local Government Area of the state who have remained displaced from their ancestral homes since February 2020 due to the construction of a so-called Ebonyi International Cargo Airport.”
In a statement released to newsmen Tuesday in Abuja and signed by AESID President Amb. Pascal Oluchchukwu, also called for immediate release of a detained lawyer, Ifeanyi Nworie- a native of Ezza South Local Government Area from Abakaliki prison for criticising certain policies of the state government.
While congratulating the new EFCC boss Bawa, AESID said: “The commission under the former leadership have been foot-dragging in probing several petitions emanating from Ebonyi state pending before it to the surprise and chagrin of many. We, however appreciate the efforts of the commission in inviting the immediate-past Coordinators of Development Centres under the platform of G-64 for interactions towards uncovering the whole truth on the allegation of ‘misappropriation of statutory allocations accruing to the 13 Local Government councils’ in the State to the tune of N6.756Bn by the Umahi-led administration.
“AESID therefore urges the new anti-graft Czar, Bawa and the ICPC to beam their searchlights on these and many more petitions which active and vigilant citizens of our dear Ebonyi State have forwarded to it without delay. The commission should live up to its constitutional mandate of investigating financial crimes with a view to bringing those found culpable to book. We say this because we know that looting and misappropriation of public funds has taken deep place in Ebonyi since 2015 through his use of the new concrete pavement technology as an official conduit pipe for milking our State’s meagre resources.”
On the plight of the displaced Ezza natives, the group lamented “condemn the reckless abandonment of Ezza natives in Okaleru, Ezza North Local Government Area of the state who has remained displaced from their ancestral homes since February last year due to the construction of a so-called Ebonyi International Cargo Airport.
“AESID is deeply worried that several months after reports revealed that the government failed to provide any alternative means of shelter for the residents of the affected communities; Umuezeoka, Umuoghara and Oriuzor and Okaleru, nothing has been done to remedy the horrifying sufferings of these set of Ebonyians whose known crime is that development caught up with them.
“How does a government that leaves its over 15,000 Internally Displaced Persons affected by the said airport project including women and children sleep well at night? We have been wondering why the government chose to abandon this large number of vulnerable groups without adequate and reasonable compensation and again, we therefore call on the Umahi-led government to ensure that the victims are adequately compensated to save them from the avoidable hardship they have been plagued with following this ugly development.”
On the insecurity in the state, the statement condemned the incessant attacks and razing of police stations in the state by hoodlums, saying the latest attack on Iboko Police Station in Izzi Local Government Area of the state which left the place a ghost of itself is very worrisome.
“AESID also wishes to inform that it is aware of the arrest and detention of a Lawyer, Ifeanyi Nworie- a native of Ezza South Local Government Area in the Abakaliki prison on trumped-up charges of cultism simply because he criticized certain policies of the Umahi administration and called for greater accountability on the part of the government.
This platform calls for his immediate release from the prison custody and condemn outrightly the limitless intimidation of Ebonyi Judges and Magistrates by the Executive arm of government as they have now been cowered not to grant bails to suspects without ‘clearance’ from the occupants of Abakaliki Government House. The various authorities concerned should know that these so-called powerful individuals occupying Ebonyi Government House today have only about 800 days to leave and our institutions will remain.”