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Monday, December 11, 2023

Ezu River: Senate joint committee returns to Anambra



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By Martins Ezigwe

·     Gov Obi,SARS,Federal High Court testify
The joint sitting of Police Affairs Committee and National Security/Intelligence committees of the Senate are is back to  Anambra State to continue their finding of facts regarding the discovery of floating dead bodies of over 50 young men in Ezu River at Amansea, Anambra State last month.
The two committees which held its first sitting in the Conference Hall of Government House Awka of February 12, 2013 are today taking additional testimonies from communities who did not have the opportunity to testify two weeks ago, in addition to all institutions connected to the incident.
As at press time the committee had completed its courtesy call to the Traditional ruler of Amansea, Igwe Keneth Okonkwo in whose community 15 out of the 19 bodies admitted by the Police to have been discovered have been buried. Observers believe that over 50 bodies were seen floating.
The Senate will also visit the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) office at Awkuzu, Oyi Local Government Area of the state, the deferral High Court, The Prisons in the state, and finally the government House where the committee plans to take the testimony of the State governor, Mr Peter Obi.
Governor Peter Obi, who had to be represented by his Deputy, Mr Emeka Sibeudu during the first sitting was away to Abuja to at a reception ceremony for the Victorious Super Eagles who beat other 15 nations in AFCON 2013, held in South Africa to lift the African football trophy.
As at press time, the committee had taken the testimony of the traditional ruler sin Awka North, The Omambala Community, comprising four local government areas of Anambra East,Anambra West,Oyi and Ayamelum.
Unlike the February 12 visit, all testimonies today were taken behind closed doors as all journalists had to wait outside while each group was called din to see the senate committee in camera.
Head of the Senate delegation and Chairman of Committee on Police Affairs, Sen. Igwe Paulinus Nwagu told newsmen after the session in Amansea held in the palace of Igwe Okonkwo that the senate committee does not have anything to hide’
According to Sen Nwagu,’ We have only made the atmosphere more conducive to those who may wish to give us useful information, but cannot do so in public for fear of the unknown’
Apart from Sen Nwagu, other members of the senate panel who have departed to SARS office Awkuzu are Sen (Maj Gen) Sani Sale Retired, Senator Mohammed Shaba Lafiaji of Kwara North, Senator Chris Ngige host senator and Sen (Gen) Mohammed Magoro Rtd. ,chairman of the Senate Committee on National Security & Intelligence.
A very reliable source close to one of the standing committees in the upper house told me this morning that the senate considers the testimony of the governor important because he is the Chief Security Officer of the State
‘This investigation would be far from complete if we fail to hear directly, not through intermediaries, the Chief Security Officer of Anambra State’ Said the source.
Besides the governor, the source also confirmed that many memoranda have been received from individuals and corporate bodies asking for a chance to testify ‘with some even vehemently protesting that the February 11, 2013 visit by the joint committee was sudden, unadvertised, and thus denied them the chance to appear’.
Indeed at the last sitting, those who testified complained of short notice and specifically suggested that the sitting ought not to have held in Government House Awka.
Another source confirmed that the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) who were requested to appear before the Senate Committee in Abuja with relatives of alleged members killed and dup into Ezu River kept the appointment with the Senate last weekend.
MASSOB alleged that nine of their members were among those whose bodies were found in Ezu River at Amansea.
The movement named the victims as Basil Ogbu, Michael Ogwa, Sunday Omogo, Philip Nwankpa, Eze Ndubisi, Ebuka Eze, Obinna Ofor, Joseph Udoh and Uchechukwu Ejiofor.
Details of their testimony at press time was sketchy, but it was gathered the relatives who appeared before the Sen. Igwe Paulinus Nwagu joint committee presided over by Senator, along with MASSOB Directr of Information, Mr Uchenna Madu included Mrs. Susan Ogba, wife to the missing Michael Ogba; Chidubem Oguejiofor, elder brother to missing Obinna Offor and , Eucharia Omogo, wife to the missing Monday Omogo.
Others were Ekene Nwamkpa, wife to the missing Philip Nwankpa. Solomon Ogbu, elder brother to Basil Ogbu; Uchenna Ogbu, wife to the missing Basil Ogbu; Phoebi Eze, mother to the missing Obumneme Eze; Chukwuma Eze, younger brother to Ndubuisi Eze.
Before departure to Abuja, the relatives held a brief demonstration in Onitsha, during which they explained their ordeal to the press.
Orient Daily Newspaper reports that  Operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in Anambra had told them to their shock  and surprise to go home and look after their children when they insisted on gaining access too their loved ones.
‘ They said that when they interpreted the SARS word to mean that they might have killed them extra-judicially, some of them went and contacted their lawyers who went to SARS on their behalf only to be told to go to Abuja to look for the suspects and no more at Awkuzu.’ ‘They add that in the case of missing Basil Ogbu, they had even gone to the Federal High Court Awka and complained, and the court ordered the police to produce him in court but to no avail. Appealing to President Goodluck Jonathan, Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State, the United Nations and the Human Rights bodies to come to their aid, the relations said as far as they are concerned, the police know where their missing relations are and as such should be compelled to produce them dead or alive, if they said they are not among the floating corpses in Ezu River.
Orient also quotes MASSOB’s Regional Administrator for Region 5, Onitsha North, Vincent Iloh, as saying that ‘apart from the nine missing members who were arrested together on December 7, last year, the whereabouts of some other members like Louis Onwe, Obiora Obasi and others who were equally arrested by security operatives and handed over to the police on different dates and venues, are still unknown.

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