By ANDY NWOGHA, Abakaliki
The Ezza-Effium Consultative Assembly (ECA) said, is once again compelled to react to what it described as wishy-washy press statement from Ebonyi State Police Command wherein it made what they called vain efforts to defend and cover-up the escape of 55 out of the 66 hired mercenaries arrested with arms and charms at Okpoduma village in the war-torn Effium community during a raid of some hideouts in the area by General Officer Commanding 82 division, Enugu, Maj. Gen.Taoreen Lagbaja and his team last Saturday.
The Assembly in a press statement signed by it’s Chairman, Mr. Aligwe Mathias Chukwuma and Secretary, Mr. Bernard Orichi on Wednesday added that, “The pedestrian, illogical and incoherent Police statement signed by the Command’s Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Loveth Odah, claimed that it had no record of cell break or escape from its custody of either those arrested and handed over to the Police in connection to Uffiom/Ezza-Effium Community crisis or suspect(s) involved in any other case.
“The shabby statement, however admitted that “during the visit to one of the Effium villages,” *Okpoduma*” some suspected Effium indigenes were arrested and not machineries as widely speculated and a search within their surroundings by the security officers led to the recovery of Five *(5)* Dane Guns, One (1) Locally made Pistol and Some cartridges.”
“Against this backdrop, the Ezza-Effium Consultative Assembly is irked that this face saving press statement could shamelessly come from a police Command, in less than 24hours the CP, Aliyu Garba admitted on tape before some Journalists that the Command was no longer in custody of the whole 66 suspects handed over to them by the GOC, 82, division, Enugu, Maj. Gen Lagbaja.
“Besides the fact that CP Aliyu Garba the escape to Journalists, the State Commissioner for Internal Security and Border Peace, Chief Stanley Okoro Emegha, also did confirm on tape to Journalists the escape of the 55 out of 66 hired mercenaries arrested during the raid from the police custody, and even accused security agencies of compromise in the Effium crisis. Yet, the Command rather than going after the freed suspects to rearrest and parade them before Journalists to douse the already tensed atmosphere, chose to dish out falsehood to the unsuspecting public in form of a rejoinder, to cover-up their complacency and compromise.
“The Command said in its statement that the escape of the 55 suspects “is a rumour unfounded, mischievous, baseless and an attempt to create panic in the minds of Ebonyians.” Now, is the command saying that CP Aliyu Garba and Stanley Okoro Emegha who confirmed the escape to Journalists, are liars, mischief makers and rumor mongers? This is one of the many questions on the lips of every sane mind, which the author of that jaundiced statement failed to address.
“More so, the claim by the Ebonyi State Police Command that the 66 suspects were not mercenaries but indigenes of Ufiom, yet admitted that some arms were recovered from them, amounts to shooting oneself on the leg. Assuming without conceding that the suspects were not mercenaries but indigenes of Ufiom, what were they doing with arms and charms that were recovered from them? Do the police, whose constitutional duty is to protect lives and property, have any moral justification to free anyone arrested for unlawfully bearing arms and charms anywhere in Nigeria, not to talk of Effium where there have been persistent killings of hundreds of innocent natives and destruction of their property by hired mercenaries in the last two months, still counting.
“For the Ebonyi State Police Command to openly, boldly and hastily put up a defence on behalf of the suspects in this shameful manner, in order to justify and or cover-up the leaked freeing of 55 of them in their custody, goes to confirm our earlier stance that the security agencies, especially the Police have been badly compromised and are biased with the mission of aiding hired mercenaries who have been commissioned to annihilate our people in Effium Community.
“We, therefore, restate and insist on our earlier position that the Police authorities, under the headship of the acting Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, should prevail on CP Aliyu Garba, to account for the 55 arrested hired mercenaries freed under his watch, so that they would be made to face trial for their involvement in the ongoing genocide against the peace loving people of Ezza-Effium in Effium community.
“We equally call on the acting IGP, Usman Alkali Baba to redeploy CP Aliyu from Ebonyi State within 72hours, once he has given the account of the hired mercenaries, complacently freed under his watch.
“We implore the acting IGP to ensure that every other person or group of persons that are directly or indirectly involved in this security sabotage, no matter how highly placed, are arrested and made to face the full weight of the law”, the statement noted.
Meanwhile, the Assembly has condemned the actions of the state government regarding the crisis in Effium Community.
“The highest form of fear and worry ever, that Ebonyians and by extension, Nigerians, are having in this current pogrom is the silence of the state government under Chief David Umahi. This again lends credence to our earlier stance that Governor Umahi is culpable to the ongoing genocide against our people in Effium Community where over 500 Ezza-Effium skulls have been killed by hired assailants in the area.
“It beats our imagination and gets us worried how Umahi keeps silent over vital issues regarding the carnage going on in Effium Community.
“Again, Umahi’s request that the Federal Government should give him N3 billion to resettle Effium Community people shows that he knows what to do to end the war, but chose to first make merchandise of the whole process.
“If not so, why is it that Governor Umahi has not been keeping to his words when it comes to the ongoing Effium Community massacre? How could one explain that after Clement Odah was arrested on the order of the Governor who also vowed to commence the process of his suspension through the State Assembly, would still hear that up to this time, nothing of such is going on? We are very much aware that nothing of such will ever happen as far as it involves Clement Odah, his emergency son.
“It is this same Clement Odah who went to the hallowed chamber of the State Assembly with brigade of his thugs, slapped a lawmaker, disrupted the proceedings of the House and nothing happened because he is the governor’s emergency son. We had stated and shall continue to state how Odah was arrested by the Police with guns in 2016, he came out to throw parties in the streets of Abakaliki and Ohaukwu because he was unhurt as the governor’s emergency son.
“These are amongst the various manipulations and systemic twist against our people that create fears in us and cause us to cry aloud because we are at present, a people under siege and near total annihilation.
“However, we call on Governor David Umahi, to clear his name and prove to us, that he is not culpable in this evil plot to exterminate Ezza-Effium people in Effium community by ensuring that this security sabotage is not swept under the carpet. He should ensure that these 55 mercenaries freed by the compromised personnel of Ebonyi State Police Command, are properly accounted for, by them, by possibly parading them for the public to see.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria is called upon to transfer out of Ebonyi State the State Director of DSS and the State Commandant of Nigeria Civil Defense Corps (NCDC) for being culpable in this organized crime against Ezza-Effium people. The Federal government should, as a matter of urgency, deploy unbiased security agents to Effium community in order to end the persistent killings of unarmed Ezza-Effium people by hired mercenaries”, the Assembly maintained.