Death toll rises as Ebonyi communal clash escalates

Posted by News Express | 13 February 2021 | 444 times

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•Governor Umahi

Effium community in Ohaukwu Local Government which used to be one of the busiest suburban cities in Ebonyi State has been completely shut down and now a ghost town, following the crisis that erupted in the area two weeks ago.

The crisis, which started in a motor park as a result of a misunderstanding between two factions of Effium branch of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) escalated to a communal conflict between the two major clans – Effium and Ezza-Effium that live in the area. The two clans, it was gathered, had lived together for decades, though disagreeing from time to time, but had never engaged in such a bloody clash.

However, the impeccable sources from the area said the crisis had a political undertone, even though, it was gathered, there were other remote causes, which is far from the NURTW crisis.

The two factions of the NURTW officials were said to have fought over the revenue collection in a park located in Effium market.

One of the factions is said to be loyal to the Executive Chairman of Ohaukwu LGA, Barr Clement Odah, while the other is working for the member representing Ohaukwu North State constituency, Hon Chinedu Awo.

Like a wide fire, the crisis escalated to all the villages as the two factions launched reprisal attacks, leading to killings of scores and burning of property worth millions of naira. Natives, who luckily escaped from being killed including women and children are now taking refuge in neighbouring communities, and states.

Unfortunately, the crisis has continued unabated with reports of killings and destruction of property despite the deployment of security agents including soldiers to the area.

In the wake of the crisis, Governor David Umahi visited the community and held peace talks with the people of the two clans.

All the major stakeholders from the warring community including the Council chairman, Clement Odah and the State legislator, Chinedu Awo, were arrested by the Police on the orders of the Governor who maintained they wouldn’t be released until peace returned in the area.

But the Governor made a U-Turn last week, by releasing the stakeholders with a charge to go to their area and ensure that absolute peace returned.

The stakeholders, in compliance to the government directive, returned home to preach peace to their people, but fillers from the area indicate that their efforts yielded no result, as hostilities between the two clans have continued to persist.

The Governor further suspended all his political appointees from the community till further notice, and equally set up a judicial panel of inquiry to look into the crisis.

But investigations revealed that despite the measures so far taken by Ebonyi State government, killings of people in their hundreds and destruction of property still reign supreme in the area.

Ebonyi State Police Command had while confirming the auto-crash that claimed three of its officers who were coming back from a peace mission in the warring Effium Community last Thursday sued that peace had returned to the community.

The State’s Police Public Officer, Loveth Odah, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, had told Journalists that residents of the community who fled to Izzi, Ohaukwu, and parts of Benue State had started returning home.

“They decided to use traditional means to make peace and they have embraced peace. As I talk to you now, normalcy has returned to the area. They have agreed to drop their hostilities against one another and we are very happy with them for that,” DSP Odah said.

But the statement of Ebonyi State Police Command is far from the true situation in the area, as killings of natives, in scores, and destruction of property, both during the day and night, by the warlords of both clans, have even taken a more dangerous twist for the worst.

Some of the natives interviewed told our Correspondent that a woman, Mrs Elizabeth Ekuma Omoha, along his four children, had traveled back to the troubled Effium community last Friday to evacuate some of her property, but was shot dead, alongside her daughter, Ifesinachi, in a broad day by warlords, while the other two persons (males) who were with her luckily escaped.

The compound of the deceased, it was gathered, situated within Effium market, in the area; yet, there was no security intervention.

It was further gathered that on Saturday, one Mrs Christiana Nwaigwe Edeogu and many others whose names could not be ascertained as of the time of filing this report were also killed by warlords in a broad day.

Natives of the area also attributed the worsening situation, to the withdrawal of a good number of security agents earlier deployed to quell the crisis by the authorities. However, the Ebonyi State government and the police denied the allegation.

They further revealed that policemen deployed to the area, instead of showing commitment to fishing out the warlords who have embarked on mindless killings, maiming, and destruction of property in the area, were more interested in using their patrol vans for transportation business in the area.

They accused them of collecting from hapless households who wished to be evacuated from the area between N20,000 to N50,000 or even higher; just as they allegedly collect N3000 to N5000 from each person who wished to be transported out of the area.

This ‘oil well’ discovered by the security agents deployed to the warring Effium community, it was gathered, has derailed their interests in ensuring that absolute peace returned in the area. (Saturday Independent)


Source: News Express

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