By Peter Duru, Makurdi
Chairman of Ado Local Government Area, LGA, of Benue State, Hon. James Oche has threatened legal action against the Ebonyi State Government for wrongfully accusing the people of Agila in Ado LGA of being responsible for the April 12, 2021 attack on Ngbo communities of Ohaukwu Local Government Area, LGA, of Ebony.
Oche also raised the alarm that the allegation by the state government could incite the Ngbo communities to take up arms against his constituents in Agila lamenting that the N20 Million the government announced was given to the Ngbo Vigilante to procure security materials could be used for that purpose.
The Ado Chairman was reacting to the April 28, 2021 Media outing of the Ebonyi State Government after an Emergency State Security Executive Council Meeting wherein the government accused Agila people of engaging the services of Fulani militia to attack neighboring Ngbo community in Ebonyi state on April 12, 2021.
Part of the statement by the Ado LG Chairman read, “the Executive Council of Ado Local Government Area of Benue State hereby expresses outright dismay over the widely circulated press release of the Ebonyi State Government issued on 28/04/2021 after its Emergency State Security Executive Council Meeting wherein conflicting accusations have been made to sustain the inordinate narrative that the people of Agila of Ado Local Government Area of Benue State were responsible for the April 12th, 2021 attack on communities in Ohaukwu Local Government of Ebonyi State.
With strictest defiance to this inordinate tale of sustained falsehood from the government of Ebonyi State, we state in unequivocal terms that with due regards to the Government of Ebonyi State, we reiterate our firm position that, the people of Agila have no hand whatsoever in the attack on Ohaukwu communities.
“The people of Agila who are equally subjects of Fulani herdsmen attack could not have engaged herdsmen to occasion an attack on their behalf.
“That paragraphs 7 and 12 of the said press release are conflicting to each other. While paragraph 7 states that the destruction of properties in Umuogoakpu Mgbo of Ohaukwu LGA on 12/04/2021 was by Agila community through the conduit of herdsmen, paragraph 12 in contradiction is to the effect that, the communities were attacked by herdsmen through the conduit of the Agila people.
“This being an outright revelation that, the Ebonyi State Government is playing double standards and cannot even maintain an honest story line.
“That it has countlessly been alleged that, the attack on Ohaukwu communities was a reprisal on the grounds that, the people of the communities had sometime ago seized and killed over 70 cattle belonging to the Fulani and we express dismay that, the government of Ebonyi State is hell bent on shielding the truth in an unnecessary blue game.
“That the surviving victims of attack, their family members, the Chief Security Officer of the Ngbo people, Mr. Leonard Igwe and reports of media institutions that underwent independent investigative journalism on the attack have all vindicated the Agila people as the victims themselves and all other persons interviewed categorically stated that, the attack was from Fulani herdsmen.
“It is conflicting also that, the Ebonyi State Government that had outrightly claimed that the attack was by people of Agila is now saying the people of Agila engaged herdsmen to do so. We shake our heads in disbelief and wonder why the Ebonyi State Government is being economical with the truth.
“We state unequivocally that, the insistence of the Ebonyi State Government to web the people of Agila into the crisis is malicious, malignant and remains an affront to our collective sensibilities. We consider same a desperate attempt to fan the embers of hatred and bitterness and to incite the people of Ohaukwu against the innocent people of Agila.”
Continuing, the statement read, “we make it known to all that, we find the N20Million support given by the Ebonyi State Government to aid the Vigilante of Ngbo community of Ohaukwu LG to purchase security outfits disturbing as it could be a source of empowerment to procure arms and attack our people.
“We wish to inform all that, these sustained falsehood against the people of Agila regarding the 12/04/2021 attack has created panic among the Agila people for fear of imminent attack and has created a serious situation of over 3,000 IDPs vacating Agila land to seek refuge in Igumale and Apa Agila areas of Ado LGA.
“We make bold to state that, in the wake of these developments, should any form of attack be occasioned against the people of Agila, the Government of Ebonyi State would be held responsible as their sustained falsehood would likely have triggered same.
“We will consult our team of legal advisers and lawyers on the likelihood or otherwise of seeking redress against the Ebonyi State Government from a court of competent jurisdiction over these false allegations that have threatened our collective peace and occasioned us untold hardship.
“While we demand apology, we urge the Ebonyi State Government to be more responsible in advancing peaceful leadership than falsely inciting and financially empowering its people against an innocent community.”
The Ado Executive Council expressed its gratitude to Governor Samuel Ortom and his Deputy, Engr. Benson Abounu who leads the state Boundary Commission for their sustained support and astute leadership style in ensuring a peaceful resolution of the crisis as well as support to the National Boundary Commission to ensure peaceful demarcation of the boundaries of the two states.