January 25, 2021

NURTW/COMMUNITY CLASH: Police arrest Ebonyi council boss, lawmaker, former CPS, 21 others

police arrest

…Those arrested must be prosecuted  —PDP

…Case under investigation —Police

By Peter Okutu

THE Ebonyi State Police Commissioner, Aliyu Garba, yesterday, arrested the Chairman of Ohaukwu Local Government Area of the state, Clement Odah; the lawmaker representing Ohaukwu North State Constituency, Chinedu,  his former Chief Press Secretary, CPS, and the current Special Assistant to the Governor on Market Development, Chief Emmanuel Uzor; and others over the recent killings and wanton destruction of properties that took place in Effium community over the weekend.

Odah , the Ohaukwu council chairman was the person, who  ordered the arrest of  Vanguard reporter, Peter Okutu, in April, 2020 at Woodberry Hotel, Abakaliki, following a report on his claim of gruesome killing of his people by unknown assailants.

Also arrested are 21 major stakeholders in the community including the Coordinator of Effium Development Centre, Sunday Agbo; his Effium South DC Counterpart, Eucharia Ogwale; and Chief Emmanuel Igwe, who is in charge of Parks Development.

The former lawmaker Representing Ohaukwu North State Constituency and Governor Umahi’s Special Assistant on Youth Development, Frank Onwe was among those arrested.

The Chief Press Secretary to the Deputy Governor, Dr. Monday Uzor, had in a statement, yesterday, invited the stakeholders and appointees to an emergency security meeting following the violence that took place in the community on Friday and Saturday.

The meeting which took place at Old Government House also had in attendance the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Anselm Neither, who is also from the community; Secretary to the State Government, Kenneth Ugba; and Commissioner for International Security and Conflict Resolution, Stanley Okoro Emegha.

The invitees arrived at the venue of the meeting at 9pm and the meeting started with the Deputy Governor and Commissioner of Police in attendance.

Vanguard learned that at about 10pm, some policemen in 10 vans entered the Government House from the Police Headquarters which is just across the road.

The Police officers in the vans alighted and quickly surrounded the building where the meeting was taking place and moments later, the Commissioner of Police opened the door and ordered the Policemen to take 24 invitees away except the Chief Judge of the State.

They were immediately taken to two waiting buses belonging to the Ministry of Internal Security from where they were driven to the States Police Headquarters.

After their arrest, the CP, the Deputy Governor and other attendees entered their cars and left the venue.

READ ALSO: Two shot, one missing over Enugu/ Ebonyi boundary dispute

At the time of this report, the Deputy Governor and the Commissioner of Police were said to have departed to Effium to witness the level of destruction.

Violence erupted in the community on Friday and continued on Saturday leading to deaths of some innocent members of the community.

The Police on Saturday night said at least seven persons had been killed in the violence while no fewer than nine persons were injured.

Houses, cars and other properties worth millions of naira were burnt and destroyed.

Members of the community had fled to unknown destinations to seek refuge. Another source said many ran into the bush where they slept as the burning of houses and killings continued all through Saturday night.

Mr Uzor told newsmen, yesterday morning that his house and those  of his relatives were also torched.

He said he was yet to establish contact with his aged parents since yesterday when the community was deserted.

The clash is an escalation of a leadership tussle in the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, in the LGA as a faction of the Union made up of Effium indigenes of Korri extraction clashed with another faction made up of Effium indigenes of Ezra extraction at the park.

The clashes spilled into the community leading to casualties on both sides.

Those arrested must be prosecuted  —PDP

Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, weekend stated that all those arrested in connection with the violence at Effium Community must be prosecuted in line with the laws of the land.

Ebonyi State  Publicity Secretary of the party, Barr. Silas Joseph Onu,  in statement said that the party would not keep quiet until justice is served.

“We will be keeping up with the investigation of this heinous atrocious attack on innocent people and will not keep quiet should the investigation be shoddy or swept under the carpet. Every action has consequences. If these ones have done what led to the murderous activities in Ohaukwu, they must face the law as required – no one is above the law”

Onu alleged that the entire violence that took place in the affected Community were “being orchestrated and sustained by officials of the Ebonyi State government who all answer to the Governor.”

The statement read in part: “The PDP in Ebonyi State is saddened as innocent lives were lost, properties worth hundreds of millions were destroyed in Ohaukwu LGA of Ebonyi State, all because of the need of government to control small town unions and transport unions in Ebonyi State.

“We thank the newly deployed Commissioner of Police for swiftly ensuring that the State agents who have become laws onto themselves have been duly apprehended.

“With the arrest of the Chairman, Ohaukwu LGA – Clement Idaho; the member Representing Ohaukwu North State Constituency – Hon. Chinedu Awo; the two Coordinators from Effium Development Centres – Sunday Agbo and Eucharia Ogwale, respectively – including many other past and present appointees of this government, it is safe to assert that the government knows more than what is being seen or heard. Therefore, the government must be held responsible for all these needless deaths and wanton destructions.”

Confirming the arrest of suspects, Commissioner of Police, CP Aliyu Garba added that investigation was still on to ascertain those behind the dastardly act.

“Actually it was my first litmus but like I told you normalcy has been restored, we have lots of them that have been arrested and investigations are ongoing”

Aliyu who visited the scene said normalcy had been restored as police operatives and personnel from sister agencies have been deployed to the community.

Vanguard News Nigeria