… Crisis will be over in days – Ebonyi Deputy Governor
…This is a promise – Ebonyi Commissioner
…We came back with suspects not up to 66 – Ebonyi CP
By Peter Okutu, Abakaliki
55 out of the 66 suspects arrested by a combined team of the Police and Army, Saturday escaped from Police custody in Effium Community of Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
The suspects are alleged to be those behind the attacks and killings taking place in Effium/Ezza Effium Communities of the State.
Before their unfortunate disappearance, Ebonyi State Police Command was putting modalities in place to ensure their eventual transportation from Effium Community to the State Headquarters of the Command in Abakaliki.
The whereabouts of the said suspects are still not known as their disappearance occurred immediately after the Deputy Governor of Ebonyi State, Dr Kelechi Igwe, other delegation including, the General Officer Commanding, GOC, 82 Division, Major General Taoreen Lagbaja who was on a-one day operational visit to the war-torn communities left the area.
Confirming the escape of the suspects, the Commissioner for Internal Security and Border Peace, Chief Stanley Okoro Emegha who condemned the development alleged that the escape of the suspects was done in collaboration with the Police.
“The Governor is not sleeping over the crisis in Effium. There has been the deployment of 150 soldiers and 120 mobile men, visiting team. Not minding the presence of other personnel therein.
“Our visit today was a major breakthrough as we arrested 66 suspects. It is unfortunate that 55 escaped. The security agencies whose responsibility it is to guard the suspects to Abakaliki compromised. As we moved they released them. The Governor through the Deputy Governor has demanded an explanation from the Commissioner of Police and the Officer Commanding troops there.
“The Commissioner of Police was there and he was reluctant. It was because of my insistent that the warlords were arrested. They said those arrested were vigilante. Vigilante again? When the Governor has announced a dusk to dawn curfew in the affected Communities. Who constituted such vigilante? This is a compromise. The suspects were rounded up and handed over to them. We are not getting the necessary support that we are supposed to get from the police.”
Reacting, the Commissioner of Police, CP Garba Aliyu denied any form of compromise adding that the Police came back with suspects as they were not up 66 in number.
“We came back with some suspects. They are not up to 66”
Addressing Newsmen at Effium Police Station, the Deputy Governor of the State, Dr Kelechi Eric Igwe expressed optimism that with the strategy on the ground, peace would soon return to the Effium/Ezza-Effium Communities in the State.
“The Community has left us with chains of predictability. Governor has done so much to ensure that the crisis in Effium is settled once and for all and when you think all is well something else crops up. It’s either they hire machinery (both sides) and disguise them as being indigenes of the community
“The Military and Police are still considerate; that there’s a force they could deploy to this place and innocent people will become casualties. From the strategy in place, we anticipate that there will be peace in Effium within some days.”
The GOC Commanding 82 Division, Major General Taoreen Lagbaja said he was the crisis-ridden Community to familiarize himself with the situation on the ground and advise his Commanders on the way forward.
“I have to come to Ebonyi this morning in response to the security challenges in Effium and Ezza Effium and advise my commanders on the way forward so that there will be peace as soon as possible.”