January 31, 2023

Ebonyi killings: Buhari, IGP petitioned over alleged plot to release suspects from custody


…Police arrested, and released those it believed were innocent – Umahi’s Aide, Chooks Oko

By Peter Okutu, Abakaliki

A Stalwart of the Peoples Democratic Party, in Ebonyi State, Chief Julius Oji (aka Ochiri Edda) has petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari and the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, over what he described as a subtle plot to release the alleged killers of a policeman, Insp. Festus Akpan and two others from police custody without trial by a court of competent jurisdiction.

Recall that Insp. Akpan and two civilians were killed on December 26, 2022, when hoodlums in the area engaged security operatives, in a gun duel, at Ekoli Edda community, in the Afikpo South Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.

Subsequently, Governor Umahi set up a Panel of Inquiry to, among other things, find out the remote and immediate causes of the crisis.

But Chief Oji, who is one of the Conveners of Edda Identity, a socio-political group in the area, on Tuesday, in a statement, alleged the Panel was a Green-washing targeted at shifting people’s attention from the main issues, on ground. The allegation has been countered by Governor Umahi’s Special Assistant on Media and Strategy, Chooks Oko.

He called on the IGP, Baba, to as a matter of urgency, do everything within the ambit of the law to ensure the culprits are brought to justice to serve as deterrent to others, in future.

He said, “Edda people have seen the level of politics Governor David Umahi is playing with our people. The suspects arrested over the killing of our people in Edda clan have not been arraigned in court, for over one month. This is political.

“Like I early envisaged, the Panel of Inquiry set up by Governor Umahi to look into the matter is a Kangaroo one. Instead of bringing the culprits to book, what rather has happened so far is that people who had already testified before the Panel were asked to go and make peace among themselves and were advised to say nothing serious happened and that there is now peace in Edda clan.

“This is a totally different thing from what the Edda people want. Why the cover ups here and there now? Instead of dealing with the main issues on ground, the Panel is busy with petty matters , that will not eventually spell and bring lasting peace in Edda. For instance, one John Emegha went there and they said he used to post something on Facebook and that he should desist from doing so.

“Therefore, a cursory look into the whole thing will tell you that the entire thing was just stage-managed by the governor, to shift people’s attention away from the main issues and get them so busy with the petty business of his Panel of Inquiry and then after sometimes, the suspects will be released and then commence killings in Edda again before, during and after the elections. The setting up of that Panel of Inquiry by the governor is a camouflage and it will not yield any genuine fruit geared towards solving the issues on ground.

“I am saying that so far, from the activities of the Panel, nobody will be held responsible for the crimes committed in Edda. This is just to waste time and then make Edda people believe that something serious and genuine is going on, while the opposite is the case. They are treacherously looking for a way to release the suspects and then nobody will be held responsible for the henious crimes committed in Edda land between December 26, 2022 till date.

“This is a total Green-washing to deceive Edda people. Their target is just to deceive us, release the suspects and then they won’t come out clearly to tell us who killed those people, who killed the policemen, and who burnt those houses in Edda. This is totally unacceptable by us and it’s important that the whole world hear our cries now again. We therefore, demand the arraignment and eventual trial of those suspects, to serve as deterrent to others in future.

“We, the Edda people reject this Kangaroo move purported by the governor to keep our people busy, while planning to release the suspects. We demand that the suspects be trial based on the law of the land and be brought to justice, if found guilty. We reject every move by the governor to release these people before the elections, so that they will start their killing spree in Edda again.

“The Panel of Inquiry set up by the governor is his stooge and we reject it, because it’s Kangaroo.

“While thanking the Inspector-General of Police for his efforts at ensuring orderliness in the area, we equally call on him to do everything within the confines of the law to bring to justice, the killers of an Police Inspector and three others, in Edda. We also call on President Muhammadu Buhari, the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, to deploy special forces to Edda clan to avert further killings, in future.”

But in a swift reaction, Governor Umahi’s aide, Oko, said, “It is very unfortunate that this is coming from someone who should know better. Should things be done following due process or via the thoughts and caprices of one person?

“The Police had arrested people and released those they believe do not have questions to answer, must the supposed innocent be punished because someone somewhere believes he is guilty? With such jaundiced disposition, the commission can be called by whatever name such a person chooses. A commission headed by a former Senator.

“All I can assure you is that Governor Umahi wants a lasting peace in Edda and the composition of the commission will certainly deliver it. Everything is not politics, this one is not.”