Following the unexpected resurgence of criminal activities in the affected communities of Ezza-Effium and Effium of Ohaukwu Local Government Area of the State, the State Government on Tuesday, threatened to rearrest the stakeholders in the area. While the Police can only confirmed one person dead, the State Government was yet to come up with an exact figure as at the time of this report. Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State, in a bid to find lasting solution to the crisis had some weeks ago, summoned a Peace and Reconcilation meeting at the Christian Ecumenical Centre, Abakaliki, involving both sides of the divide even as prominent leaders/ stakeholders of the affected Communities had been arrested and later released.
They were given an assignment by the Governor to make peace among their people and in the affected Communities. Reacting, the Commissioner for Internal Security, Border Peace and Conflict Resolution, Mr. Stanley Okoro Emegha confirmed the resurgence of criminal activities in the affected Communities and threatened that the State Government would re-arrests the stakeholders for allowing the crisis to continue. According to him: “Government has done what it is supposed to do to make sure that the peace which has lasted for three weeks now is sustained. But however it is, the State Government will not be tired of tackling this security situation in that community.
“We will find out what is really the problem again that caused this renewed crisis. It is the police on ground there that will tell us how many were killed this morning (Tuesday). “We are not yet sure whether it is up to four or six persons that were killed as people who are from that place are saying, it is still a rumour until we are sure. But however, it is the duty of the Government to provide security and we have deployed more troops to the place.
“I don’t know why this thing continued, in fact, the State Government will take certain measure that is harder; we will ensure that all the stakeholders will be rearrested” he stated. Also, the Commissioner of Police, Ebonyi State Command, CP Aliyu Garba confirmed that there is only one person that was reportedly killed in the renewed hostilities in the Effium community. “Police are doing everything possible to put an end to the crisis in the Effium community. We have understood the modus operandi on how both Ezza-Effium, Effium operate. There is no need to blow the Effium crisis. Only one person that was killed. And it is as a result of differences between Ezza-Effium and Effium people that are causing this problem” he stated.
Recall that there has been lingering communal crisis between Ezza-Effium and Effium people since January, this year, which resulted in the death of innocent persons and destruction of properties worth millions of naira. In a related development, a group under the aegis of Ezza-Effium Consultative Assembly (ECA), had accused Effiumites of breaching the ceasefire agreement reached in the ongoing reconciliation process put in place by the State government. The group, in a statement signed by its Chairman and the secretary, Mr. Aligwe Mathias Chukwuma, and Mr. Bernard Orichi, and forwarded to Vanguard expressed dismay that the crisis had continued, despite all efforts put in place by the government to ensure the return of peace and order in the community.
According to them: “First, we wish to publicly condemn this needless crisis and everyone directly or indirectly behind it. We pray God to expose and punish anybody who has hands in this ongoing pogrom in our dear and once peaceful community.
“However, we have observed with dismay, some disturbing developments that we felt there is a need to alert the public before it is too late. “You could recall that on February 23, 2021, the Governor of Ebonyi State, Dr. David Umahi convened separate meetings with stakeholders of Ezza and that of Effium at Ecumenical Centre and the old EXCO Chambers, Government House, Abakaliki, respectively; with the aim of finding lasting solution to the needless crisis that erupted in our community.
“But, it is unfortunate to let the world know that the Effiumites disregarded and ignored the reconciliation efforts of the State Government and have continued to attack and kill our people as well as burn down houses belonging to Ezza people.
“For instance, while the Governor was still meeting with stakeholders of Ezza clan at Ecumenical Centre on February 23, 2021, reports came in that Effium warriors and their hired mercenaries were attacking Ugoeze and Onueroro villages where they succeeded in killing some people and burnt down houses. 10 of our people were abducted alive and have been missing till date.
“On 24th February, Governor Umahi also convened a joint meeting with our stakeholders and the stakeholders of Effium clan, but it was disheartening that while the meeting was still going-on, report also came in that Effium warriors and their hired mercenaries were attacking Okpobashi where they ended up killing some of our people and setting many houses ablaze, including a church.
“Recall also that after the two days peace meetings which Governor Umahi personally presided over, far reaching resolutions towards ending the crisis were made, part of which was that our people and Effiumites were given two weeks to make wider consultations in order to have a common ground that would enable the State Government take a decision that would bring lasting peace in our community.
“The Governor also threatened to hold responsible stakeholders of either Ezza or Effium who allowed their people to foment trouble in the area again, while the government searches for a lasting peace.
“But It is regrettable that while our people have embraced peace, the Effiumites have refused to lay down their arms and toe the path of peace. “We are saddened to tell the general public that amidst the ongoing reconciliation by the State Government, they are still launching attacks, killing our people and burning our properties.
“In the last 14 days that this peace process started, no day passes without the Effium warriors and their hired mercenaries attacking at least one or two of Ezza-Effium territories, killing our people and destroying their properties. “We therefore call on Ebonyi State Government led by Governor David Umahi to note that Effiumites have refused to see the need to embrace peace even when our people have shown enough dispositions for peace, in obedience to the ongoing peace efforts by the Government.
“We wish to state that we may not continue to fold our hands and watch strangers; the Uffiomites who are migrants from Cross River, whose presence in Ebonyi of today was an accident with no clear origin or any trace at all to our Progenitor, His Eminence Ekumenyi, to exterminate Ezza-Effium who are the indigenous people and descendants of his first son, Ezekuna,” the group alleged.