Effium crisis: Group rejects Ebonyi Govt’s plan to release armed youths
By Sunday Elom
Members of an apolitical group, Ezza-Effium Consultative Assembly in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State have rejected in entirety, the plan by the Ebonyi State government to release 31 armed youths from Uffiom who were reportedly arrested on different occasions in the warring community.
In a press statement signed by it’s Chairman, Mr. Aligwe Mathias Chukwuma and the Secretary, Mr. Bernard Orichi, the Assembly observed that “Since the communal war between Ezza Effium and Uffiom natives broke out since January 21, 2021, we are saddened to observe that issues bordering on the crisis which we strongly believe is being funded and supported by governments at the State and local levels have remained politicized.”
It noted that
“In the ensuing crisis between the once peaceful Ezza-Effium and Uffiom communities whose ancestors swore never to shed each other’s blood, the Uffiom people as the aggressors have been making every efforts to frame every Ezza man either of Ezza-Effium origin or elsewhere into the communal crisis.”
According to the Assembly, “Rev. Fr. Timothy Ngwuta was arrested on the 11th of December 2021, when he went to Nworie Izzi to see his parishioners.”
The statement added, “They were reportedly stopped by policemen who were on stop and search duty in the area. Rev. Fr. Ngwuta upon being searched by the operatives had nothing incriminating on him. But by virtue of the fact that he was from the Ezza-Effium community, he was delayed, later framed, arrested and taken to the police station. Therefrom, the facts were twisted and since then he has remained in detention.
As though this uncanny and partial actions of the Umahi-led government was not already enough, the State Government arising from an Exco meeting announced the directive of Exco ordering the release of 31 armed youths from Uffiom extraction who were arrested on different occasions in the warring zone of Effium.”
The Assembly pointed out that “
The statement further read, “In the bewildering Press conference announcing the Exco decision, the State’s Commissioner of Information, Hon. Orji Uchenna Orji was done because the youths were brainwashed into bearing arms.”
It insisted that “The fact that the State Government has concluded plans to release the suspects without extending the same grace to the detainees of Ezza Effium extraction demonstrates their level of partiality, lack of neutrality and tacit endorsement or backing of the Uffiomites in the crisis.
It faulted that
“The State Government who should ordinarily play an unbiased role in tackling the crisis in Effium have been seen on several occasions supporting the actions and conducts of State actors and political office holders while at the same time hypocritically screaming for peace to return to the troubled area.”
“No wonder it’s false and pretentious efforts to set up committees upon committees to resolve the crises and restore peace have proven futile.
“Otherwise, why would the government continue to remand an innocent Priest and so many other innocent Ezza-Effium sons in detention whereas it has been releasing armed warriors who were caught red-handed with various assault rifles?”
The Assembly however acknowledged the spirited efforts the State Government is making to stop the lingering crisis in Effium community but resolved “That the State Government should immediately halt the release of those Uffiom warriors who have mercilessly killed Ezzas since the war broke out early last year.”
It further posited “That the continued incarceration of Rev. Fr. Timothy Ngwuta is unwarranted, provocative and capable of causing fresh tension between the two warring communities. We make this appeal knowing that he is an innocent Priest and has nothing to do with the Effium crisis.”
The Assembly demanded prosecution of the individuals who the governor has severally accused to have been the cause of the crisis in Effium.
“Specifically, we urge that the State Government should invite and order immediate Police investigation of Uffiom leaders such as; Hon. Fidelis Agena, Paul Okpogo and other elders from Uffiom extraction who have been fueling the crisis with their inciting posts on Facebook,” the Assembly stated.
It concluded by noting that “It will be a very grave injustice to have allowed the individuals who were alleged to have caused the crisis to continue to walk freely whereas an innocent Priest who has no hand in the crisis languishes in the correctional centre. Enough, we sadly note, should already be enough!”