By Helen Mba, Abakaliki
Operatives of the Nigerian Army and the Nigeria Police deployed to the war-torn Effium Community in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State have been accused of killing, burning of houses as well as looting property of innocent people in more than six villages dominantly occupied by Ezza-Effium people in the community.
A group, Ezza-Effium Consultative Assembly (ECA) made the allegation in a press statement signed by the Chairman, Mr. Aligwe Mathias Chukwuma, and Secretary, Mr. Bernard Orichi, which was made available to Journalists in Abakaliki on Sunday.
Titled “Security Agencies now leading the extermination war against Ezza-Effium people in Effium community”, the group alleged that security agents deployed for a peace mission in the war-torn Effium community had been heavily compromised and had become hellbent on sacking and or exterminating Ezza-Effium people from the community.
The group equally condemned the killing of three Engineers handling ring road project in the area, as well as the attack on police operatives who went on rescue mission, saying, it completely dissociates itself from the barbaric acts, and called for a thorough investigation to fish out the perpetrators, for them to face the full wrath of the law.
It however alleged that rather than the security agents deployed to the community embarking on thorough and discrete investigations to fish out the perpetrators of the crime, they were hiding under it to kill and maim innocent Ezza-Effium natives, burn their houses and loot their property indiscriminately.
Part of the statement reads, “We, however, wish to also condemn the press statement by Ebonyi State Police Command on November, 27, 2021, which was signed by the Command’s Public Relations Officer, DSP Loveth Obianuju Odah, alleging that the attack on the security agents were perpetrated by “Ezza Warriors”. Such a hasty conclusion without a thorough investigation confirms our earlier position that the police authorities in Ebonyi State are biased in handling the crisis currently ravaging our community.
“This is the same Police Command that freed 55 hired mercenaries arrested sometime on April this year and handed over to them for prosecution by General Commanding Officer, 82, division, Maj. General Taoreen Lagbaja, who came in company of his men for a peace operation in Effium community.
“Despite that these mercenaries were arrested with assorted weapons and charms and handed over to the Police Officers on ground in the presence of Pressmen and Government officials for onward movement to the Command’s headquarters Abakaliki, but because they have been compromised, they freed the 55 suspects as soon shortly after they were handed over to them.
“Following public outcry and criticisms, this police Command under the headship of CP Aliyu Garba in a press statement signed by the PPRO, DSP Loveth Obianuju Odah claimed the 55 suspects were freed because they were innocent villagers. This security sabotage was swept under the carpet till today.
“Against this backdrop, we hereby wish to alert Ebonyi State and Federal Governments, National Human Rights Commission and the entire world to note that the security agents deployed to Effium community, particularly the Police and the Military men have been heavily compromised. As we speak, places such as Ameka village, Nwenewo-Amana village, Igbudoke village, Oriuzor, Umuezoka and recently Umuogharu village in Effium community dominantly occupied by Ezza-Effium people have been under siege by security agents for more than one month now.
“These compromised security agents are hiding under the aforementioned incidence that happened recently in Effium community to unleash mayhem on only Ezza-Effium people and sack them from their homes. These criminally minded security agents illegally occupying these villages have been engaging in wanton burning and destruction of houses and looting of properties of the innocent villagers including food stuffs such as garri, rice and yam, etc, instead of conducting thorough and discrete investigation to fish out those behind the abduction and attack on police operatives.
“The ongoing killings, maiming, brutality and burning of houses among other human rights violations currently being meted on innocent Ezza-Effium people in these villages strongly confirms our earlier alarm and stance that there is a grand plot to completely sack and or exterminate our people from Effium community by those who feel their continuous presence in Effium community amount to a stumbling block to their plan takeover of the land for mineral exploration and other selfish use.
“We, therefore, appeal that this criminal violation of fundamental human rights of our people by security agents in Effium community must stop forthwith; and we hereby invite human rights organizations and other relevant authorities to come to our rescue.
“We continue to maintain as well as alert the general public to note that the Effium park misunderstanding which happened on January this year was merely used as a smokescreen for the prosecution of a well planned extermination plots against Ezza Effium people in Effium community by powerful forces who have economic interests in the community, because of the jaundiced belief that our people would constitute a stumbling block to their access to Effium land.”
The Ebonyi State Police Command and the Army authorities could not be reached for comments as of the time of filing this report.