Ebonyi: Illegal Arms And Threats Of Political Violence

FROM LEO SOBECHI, ABAKALIK

THERE is serious anxiety that violence could define the 2011 election campaigns in Ebonyi State, as well as concern for the proliferation of illicit arms. When the mother-in-law of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, (ANPP) governorship aspirant, Julius Ali Ucha, was abducted, by unknown gun men, the state Governor Martin Elechi, on several occasions pooh-poohed the allegation as a political plot to score cheap points at the expense of the government. But when the senator representing Ebonyi central zone in the senate, Emmanuel Onwe, wrote a strongly worded petition accusing the state Governor, Martin Elechi, of inciting violence against him and alienating his supporters from their party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) the mood of residents in the state changed to that of extreme apprehension.

On Wednesday, December 15, what could have been a bloody clash was averted by the police when some youth said to be supporters of the former Commissioner for Public Utilities, Tobias Okwuru, of the PDP, attacked the ANPP Governorship aspirant, Senator Julius Ucha. The thugs were said to have stormed Eke market square, Onueke in Ezza South local council at about 10 am, where the ANPP governorship aspirant was billed to address stakeholders of Ezza nation. Okwuru, who is aspiring for the House of Representatives on the platform of PDP, was alleged to have unleashed the youth, who smashed the plastic seats and canopies at the venue. It took the intervention of Ucha, who knelt down pleading with supporters not to engage the thugs and police force to save the situation. Though Okwuru denied that his supporters attacked the ANPP governorship aspirant, the whole episode seems to presage more frightening encounters as the campaigns enter top gear.

It would be recalled, that on two previous occasions, Governor Elechi, in statewide broadcasts harped on the issue of violence. The first was when he signed into law the Ebonyi State Internal Security and Related Matters Law, following increase in kidnap for ransom cases in the state. Though the address in that first instance was greeted with popular acclaim, his second broadcast captioned "Surrender of Illegal Arms and Ammunition" was dismissed as a cheap decoy to absolve PDP members earlier caught with dangerous weapons. Reading from a prepared text, Elechi said: "Once again it has become necessary for me to address you on the security imperatives of our state. In nearly all my addresses to you since my assumption of office nearly 37 months ago, the issue of security has always taken the front burner. I have received disturbing reports about large supplies of dangerous weapons in most of the local councils in the hands of unauthorized persons; the resort to the use of such arms at slightest provocation and in election campaigns, even during elections proper are habits we cannot condone in a civilized age. If the present procurement of arms is not halted and reversed, we have a high probability of unsecured future for the next generation," the governor added.

He offered a 10-day grace period during which owners of such illegal lethal weapons should surrender them to committees set up for that purpose. He said government shall take necessary steps to refund to erstwhile owners of such arms, the cost or reasonable proportion of the cost of the weapons received, assuring that, "I declare in my honour as the chief security officer of the state, that no action, legal or otherwise, shall be instituted against any people who shall respond positively to this appeal, and that nobody shall be molested."

Yet, prior to that statewide broadcast, which was said to be in response to public outcry against the caliber of weapons in the hands of politicians, the acting state chairman of Peoples Progressive Alliance, (PPA) Cyril Obazi, told journalists that there was nothing to suggest that the polls in the state would be peaceful. Obazi lamented that members of the PDP were amassing weapons to intimidate and rig the election. In allusion to the alleged confession of a member of the state House of Assembly, Odefa Obasi Odefa, to the state Security Service that he was in possession of 19 pieces of AK 47 rifles, the PPA chairman stressed: "It bleeds our heart that members of a party which claims to be the greatest political party are matcheting and maiming people, destroying things. And the security agents are keeping quite. By now, we expect that names of those perpetrating such acts, no matter how highly placed, would be on the pages of newspapers and on the radio. It is not the common man in the village that is doing all that, they are acting scripts that so, so and so person must be returned at all costs. That is whether the people like it or not! There is violence every where and the violence are being perpetrated by PDP and not any other political party."

Odefa, told The Guardian that his political opponents were amplifying the AK47 story; sources within the State Security Service said he actually confessed that the guns were bequeathed to him by his father, but also alleged that virtually every politician in Oshiri and Onicha communities possesses guns.

The then State Director of Operations, Mrs. Justina Aniah, added a new dimension to what was described as great cover up of illegal, lethal weapons by politicians in the state. In an interactive session, Aniah told newsmen that her immediate reaction to report on illegal weapons was to arrest and detain the journalist, explaining that the issue of AK 47 rifles was one that existed before she was posted to the state. She denied allegations that bribe in the neighbourhood of N7 million was given to bungle the case.

Senator Onwe's open letter appears to be concrete evidence that the electioneering campaigns would witness violent engagements. Part of the Senator's letter to Governor Elechi reads: "In your meeting with a few, selected members of the Ikwo PDP executives on 23rd October 2010, you reportedly took the following devastating steps, amongst others: You allegedly threatened to withdraw from re-contesting the gubernatorial election in the event that an Ikwo man proceeds to run for the senatorial election in Ebonyi central; you decreed that all serving members of the State House of Assembly and Federal House of Representatives should be returned to their respective positions for a second term; you demonstrated a historical sense of generosity, the like of which was never associated with you by dishing out a largesse of N2 million to one hundred handpicked PDP ward and local government executives at the conclusion of that conference.

"Your Excellency, to have publicly struck this matchstick within a hairbreadth proximity to a mountain of powder keg is egregious, calamitous and tragic, particularly issuing form the lips of the Chief Executive and Chief Security Officers of the State. Can you be certain that the conflagration that might potentially ensue shall be containable?"

According to Onwe, "the grave implications of your threat to withdraw from re-contesting as a direct response to my senatorial candidacy are manifold: it has the stench of blackmail: it has the real potential of inciting the more crude and feverish elements amongst your cheerleaders to resort to violence against me, against members of my family and against my campaign team and others. Once these simple people perceive me as the only impediment to their unearned power and lucre, they will stop at nothing to eliminate that obstacle… I have in fact, received threatening phone calls and text messages demanding either my withdrawal from contesting the senatorial election or my readiness to suffer deleterious reprisals."

He declared that the unfolding event is alarming, adding that a restive state is now being nudged inexorably to a cauldron of political mayhem. In a tone suggestive of the catastrophe to be expected, the senator who hails from the same Ikwo as Elechi assured: "But I can assure you that I will not be intimidated. The people's resistance will be massive and total. The people are sick and tired of being treated like doormats. The people have taken enough of the dirt form the wicked boots of arrogant politicians. And I am prepared to sacrifice my life for them. Let the world take note!"

A pioneer member of the Ebonyi House of Assembly, Linus Okorie, took exception to the senator's open letter, saying the language is not derogatory but the issues unexpected from a senator.

At a PDP Stakeholders meeting last week, both Governor Elechi and the state chairman of the party, David Umahi, laid emphasis on the need for peaceful electioneering campaigns before to the 2011 elections, even as Elechi noted that as champions, PDP was wont to be at the receiving end. However, as the primary elections draw nearer, it is left to the imagination how far violence could determine the outcome of elections.
Source: The Guardian, 19th December 2010.

 

Poverty takes toll on Ebonyi residents

From EMMANUEL UZOR, Abakaliki

Left for them, they would have loved to engage in something more meaningful. But since what they desire in terms of good jobs are not there, indigent citizens in Ebonyi State have hit the major streets and roads within the capital city of Abakaliki, to seek for means of livelihood no matter how menial it is.

Daily Sun survey revealed that some major roads and streets such as Akpofe Street along Old Enugu Road; Kpirikpiri opposite stadium; Ogoja Road by Vanco junction; Water Works Road opposite Mr. Biggs; the main gate of the permanent site of the Ebonyi State University, Ezzamgbo; and the rice mill at Onuebonyi junction, have been taken over by the job seekers who come out each day in the morning to make ends meet.

It is a common sight to see women and young people between the ages of 18 and 47 years with their shovels and tubs waiting along these major roads patiently for potential customers.

Daily Sun gathered that these people collect as little as between N500 and N1,000 as daily pay for their services such as bricklaying or helping hands in the farms of wealthy farmers.

The men always carry hoes, cutlasses, shovels and diggers ready to do any kind of job be it farming, digging or even construction works.

One of them who spoke with Daily Sun, Mr Nwali Umoke, a native of Agubia in Ikwo Local Government Area, lamented that the situation has called for more efforts to look for daily bread, adding that he hardly sees money to put food on the table of his family.

"We are suffering in the village and that is why I told my family to wait for me so that I will see if I can get money to feed them. My family is in the village and I came here to know if I can make some profit to feed them. Here, as you can see, has not even helped matters as we at times stay here from morning till night without anybody coming to engage our services because there seems to be a general problem in the economy of the state," he said.

According to him, the issue of poverty has spread across all sectors of the economy of the state.

He pointed out that in the past many people were building houses and doing other contract works, but now the reverse is the case.

"We used to get jobs anywhere there was building construction going on because that time people were empowered by the state government and when people build houses we enjoy from it as we work for them to make our own money," he said.

He blamed the persistent poverty they faced on paucity of fund occasioned by lack of employment which became worse with the ban on Okada business by the government, now leaving the youths with no other option than to engage in menial jobs to survive.

Also speaking with Daily Sun, John Nwode, a graduate of Sociology from the Ebonyi State University, but rides Okada for a living, lamented that since his graduation, he has been finding it difficult to secure a job in the state.

"I was among the people who applied for the recent employment in the state Civil Service Commission where they advertised for 880 job opportunities, but more than 5,000 graduates trooped up and that is to tell you the level of unemployment in the state. We cannot go into stealing or armed robbery, that is why I have said let me be doing this little work and wait on God to answer my prayers, but my greatest problem now is that the state government who obviously cannot give us jobs also does not want us to go freely on the roads as they have constituted manhunt against us on dual carriageways," he lamented.

Also speaking with Daily Sun, Mrs Nwusulor Anyigor said that their hope only comes from God as they stay some days in vain without any respite coming their way, making them to return home without money.

"Not every day that we come here that we get a job, at times we go home empty handed; for instance, we have been here today since morning, but no work. Some of our members have left to their different places out of frustration," she stressed.

Daily Sun also gathered that some shrewd businessmen are exploiting the opportunity by coming out late to engage the services of the people when they are tired of waiting and are ready to accept any amount.

According to Miss Ifeoma Nkwuda, who sells Okpa, a local delicacy at Akpofe Street, some people have cashed in on that to get the services of the indigent workers almost free by coming to engage them when they are already frustrated.

Her words: "Some people will come when they know that these people are already tired and willing to accept even peanuts to ask for their services as some of them willingly accept to collect as little as N500 just to keep food on their table."

When contacted, the state Commissioner for Economic Empowerment and Poverty Reduction, Mr Sunday Ogbuoji, however, dismissed the claims of the menial job seekers, arguing that the state government has taken bold steps to creat jobs to the people of the state.

Ogbuoji said the government had told individuals, communities, including women and youths to obtain forms to enable them access finances through the micro-finance banks.

He said that the state government is also looking at those individuals who are real entrepreneurs in the state like the artisans to utilize the gesture to expand their businesses.

"You see this is not a socialist state, the state we are running is not a socialist state, we advertise those who would want to come to us, and we expect that the person will use his ingenuity. Because when you continue to feed somebody you remove ingenuity from the person. When you begin to call on people, please come and collect, they will see it as government largesse, they will not see it as something they should use to increase their talent to become more productive," the commissioner argued.
Source: Sun, 29th September 2010.

 

Ebonyi condemns invasion of radio station by EFCC operatives

FROM LEO SOBECHI, ABAKALIKI

EBONYI State government has criticised the manner in which some persons, believed to be operatives of the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), invaded the state-owned radio station, Ebonyi State broadcasting Service (EBBS) and whisked away its General Manager, Mr. Nwafor Odum and four other employees of the station.

The state Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Egwu Chima, told The Guardian that inasmuch as the EFCC has the right to adopt any methodology in prosecuting its mandate, it was improper for its operatives to get into a government establishment without recourse to superior officials of the government.

About five young men recently drove into the premises of EBBS at Nkaleke Road, Abakaliki and after allegedly beating up Odum dragged him into their waiting bus.

"As they dragged the general manager out of the office into the bus slapping him, we thought the men were armed robbers or kidnappers. When we overheard the general manager telling them that a certain petition had been investigated by the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), we asked them where they were taking him to but they ignored us", one of the workers said.

When contacted, Chima, whose ministry oversees the radio station, said: "Yes, I am aware that some people believed to be operatives of the EFCC went to the EBBS and after manhandling the general manager, took him away. I must say that the actions of the operatives are condemnable. After all, EBBS is a state government establishment. They ought to at least have informed the state government of their mission. That is the much I can say for now; but the action of the agents are reprehensible".

Investigations by The Guardian revealed that the EFCC operatives later apprehended Mike Ekeh and Regina Obasi, both employees of the radio station and took them to the commission's office in Lagos after a brief sojourn in their Enugu office.

Two other employees of the radio station, including the Controller of News, Mr. Stephen Alefia and Ben Onu, were later allegedly invited to the Lagos office of EFCC where all the five officials of the radio station are now being detained.

Although the Public Relations Officer of EFCC, Femi Babafemi, could not give details of the said petition, unconfirmed reports disclosed that EFCC operatives were acting on a petition to the commission alleging financial impropriety running into N3 million being part of the state government's grant to the radio station, which has been off air due to the construction of the digital station.
Source: The Guardian, 2nd September 2010.

 

ASP to Die by Hanging
... Over murder of varsity student

From EMMANUEL UZOR, Abakaliki

A dismissed Assistant Superintendent of Police, Mr. Benard Alifi has been sentenced to death by hanging by a High Court sitting in Abakaliki for murder and other criminal count charge levelled against him.

Delivering the judgment, Justice Obande Ogbuinya of court five said the prosecution, having proved its case beyond reasonable doubt, he pronounced the accused guilty of the murder of one Chinwendu Micha.

The prosecuting counsel, Mr. I. P. Chima, had called for five witnesses, three of whom were eyewitnesses and two police officers who were alleged to be on patrol with the accused ASP the day the boy was shot.

Other witness presented by the prosecuting counsel was Mr. Bernard Mbam whom the deceased, an undergraduate of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, allegedly visited on the night he was murdered.

Daily Sun gathered that Alifi had been standing trial for the murder charge since 2004 when he was accused of unprovoked murder of the deceased, Chinwendu Micha, a 23-year-old, who was until his death, second year student in the university. The deceased was killed by the police ASP, when he visited his friend, Mr. Bernard Mbam who was a councillorship candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during the 2004 local government elections in the state.

It was also gathered that on the day of the local government election in 2004, the deceased and his friend Bernard were at the polling booth located opposite the bushy area of Odunukwe Street, Coca Cola depot, along Enugu-Abakaliki Expressway, when suddenly a team of police officers, led by Alifi came and shot Micha.

The defence counsel, C. O. Z. Obiekwe, put a spirited fight to defend his client and absolve him of the murder of Micha whom he had told the court was murdered by a bullet from another police officer whose identity he did not disclose.

According to the submission of the defence counsel, since there were many policemen on patrol that day, it could be possible that the deceased could have been killed by any police officer and not Alifi, the accused.

Under cross examination, the accused police ASP admitted that he had killed both innocent and suspected criminals in the cause of his duty when he was operating as one of the policemen attached to the government house.

Daily Sun also gathered that Alifi, who was attached to Ebonyi State Government House, had on that day of the local government election allegedly taken permission from the ADC to the former governor on the ground that he had information that there were groups of criminals coming to disrupt the election. However, the ADC to the former governor had earlier, through a written statement, denied any such statement and allegation that he permitted the accused to go on patrol on the day the deceased was murdered.
Source: Sun, 19th August 2010.

 

Ebonyi PDP Crisis Deepens as Egwu, Anyim Boycott Peace Parley

FROM LEO SOBECHI, ABAKALIKI

THE leadership crisis bedevilling Ebonyi State branch of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) has worsened as prominent stakeholders, including the former Governor of the state, Dr. Sam Egwu, former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim and Ambassador Franklin Ogbuewu, shunned a peace parley ordered by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.

Others invited but who stayed away include the Special Assistant to the President on Political Matters, Senator Polycarp Nwite, Senator Julius Ucha and former state chairman of the party, Joe Obinna Ogba.

Only senators Anthony Agbo and Elder Anyim Ude, were Ebonyi politicians based in Abuja who attended the meeting.

Sources close to the meeting at the Governor's Lodge, Abakaliki disclosed that signs that the meeting would not yield results started showing when none of the bigwigs earlier invited to the fence-mending meeting could be seen nor did any them give notice of absence.

The Abakaliki meeting, which was at the instance of the NWC following a similar meeting with the stakeholders and the National Chairman in Abuja on July 15, 2010, was according to sources meant to ratify a list of some foundation members that would be meeting regularly to ensure that unity, trust and camaraderie returned to the state chapter of the party.

Though the zonal working committee, led by Olisa Metuh, turned up for the meeting with the list of stakeholders, the state chairman of the party, David Umahi Nweze, was said to have repudiated the list

stating that the NWC lacked the authority to impose such names on the state working committee. He wondered how he could defend the list before his loyal supporters.

Sources said attempts by Metuh, who quoted copiously from the party's constitution, to convince the chairman that the NWC actually had such powers to set up committees to ensure the preservation of peace and harmony in the party; met a brick wall as Umahi rejected the list outright, describing it as baseless and unconstitutional.

Governor Martin Elechi was said to have repeated his allegation that some members of the party are out to fight dirty. He had accused his opponents of planning to bomb the state headquarters of the party and the houses of some prominent members of his government. 

During a meeting the Abuja office held with the leaders recently, Elechi alleged that some party faithful met at Makurdi and in a private residence in Abakaliki to hatch plans to assassinate him and two other members of his cabinet.

The root of the crisis is said to be the demand by some

prominent stakeholders for the dissolution of the state working committee of the party and the setting up of a caretaker committee, the cancellation of the July 10 council polls and recall of the state secretary of the party.

The State chairman of the party, Umahi, told newsmen that despite the demand by those he called opposition to remove him from office; nobody had the power to remove him insisting that there was no quarrel or faction in Ebonyi PDP.

But a member of Elechi's cabinet who declined to be identified accused the National Chairman of the party, Dr. Okweilieze Nwodo, of taking sides in the fray, arguing that it was "becoming clearer by the day that the chairman was applying double standards in settling crisis in some state chapters of PDP."

"My informed opinion is that Nwodo seems to have taken sides; or how would you reconcile his position on the dissolution of Ogun and Abia state executives with this approach to the Ebonyi crisis? Something tells me that the national chairman seems to be waiting for public demonstration by the aggrieved party before he acknowledges the deep seated problems threatening the party in the state," the source stated.

It would be recalled that Governor Elechi once acknowledged that he handpicked Umahi for the chairmanship position, which made the Nwobodo reconciliation to recommend that the party should make the committee more inclusive.

A group of stakeholders are continuing to agitate against the exclusion of founding members from the party and the unilateral endorsement of Elechi for a second term by the state working committee.
Source: The Guardian, 13th August 2010.

 

Ebonyi FRSC Impounds 80 Motorcycles for Traffic Violations

REGIS ANUKWUOJI

Ebonyi State Command of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) recently seized over 80 motorcycles following their owners' non-compliance with the directive on the use of safety helmets.

Chidi Edeh, Ebonyi sector commander of the commission who disclosed the seizure during a special patrol by the corps in Abakaliki, said disobedience of the rules guiding road traffic had been a very serious concern for the Ebonyi chapter of FRSC.

Continuing, Edeh said the arrest was followed by series of public enlightenment programmes organised by the Command to ensure commuters' compliance, saying that "the action was part of measures to reduce deaths and injuries sustained by motorcycle operators and their passengers during road crashes. Once we make arrests, offenders have to produce their helmets with their names duly written on them before we release same."

However, CityFile investigations reveal that most cyclists in Ebonyi who have the helmets do not use them, perhaps out of ignorance, while others just choose to flout the law. The worst offenders of the lot, it was learnt, are the junior police and army officers who also ride motorcycles part-time for business reasons.

Edeh however announced that the Command is considering the enforcement of standards with regard to motorcycle side mirrors, worn-out tyres and drivers' licenses. To that end, he added, a task force that would include the army and other security agencies would soon be inaugurated to enforce the use of safety helmets in the state.
Source: Business Day, 14th August 2010.

 

Ebonyi to reward diligent workers

FROM LEO SOBECHI, ABAKALIKI

HENCEFORTH, persons who distinguish themselves in their conduct and attitude to work in Ebonyi State would be rewarded and given certificate of recognition as a way of enthroning good practices and responsible behaviour in all facets of social life in the state.

The resolution is one of the decisions reached at the end of a five-day seminar on attitudinal change organised by the state Directorate of Attitudinal Change for various stakeholders in the state, comprising youths, civil servants, the unemployed, the middle class, private sector entrepreneurs and politicians resident in the state.

Speakers at the workshop included former Adviser to the President on National Planning and Economic Matters, Dr. Osita Ogbu, professors and consultants of different professions, initiator of attitudinal change and Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief Martin Elechi.

Entitled "Seminar/workshop on attitudinal change/work ethics as critical factor in the development of any society," the workshop which had about 3000 participants, resolved that "such sensitisation workshops are henceforth to become frequent especially at the grassroots levels while not neglecting the urban cities in the state".

Part of the resolutions contained in a statement released after the seminar read: "Further workshops will identify the types of rewards either in the categories of promotion for civil service, scholarships, awards or other forms of rewards for identified performers. Those in defaults are also to be punished, especially those with proven cases of corruption. The state government is also expected to collaborate with Non-Governmental Organisations, (NGOs) including the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to make the campaign very effective".

Speaking to journalists after the workshop, the state Coordinator of Directorate for Attitudinal Change, Mr. Ken Uhuo, said the participants agreed that for the campaign for positive attitudinal change by the people to be effective, there must be justice, fairness, and equity in the state, council areas and the society at large.

Uhuo noted that contributors were emphatic that leaders at all levels should show good examples, "have good aspirations and visions for the management of the state's natural and human resources."

According to him, it was further agreed that for Ebonyi State to develop, every citizen must see himself/herself as a stakeholder and resolve to change his or her negative attitude toward public facilities.

He noted that the specific guidelines for attitudinal change include improved work ethics, especially through avoidance of lateness to work, corruption, tribalism, nepotism and general indecent behaviour in service at all levels.
Source: The Guardian, 20th July 2010.

 

Ebonyi Council Polls :
Parties Accuse PDP Of Intimidation

FROM LEO SOBECHI, ABAKALIKI

AS the Ebonyi State Independent Electoral Commission, (EBSIEC) insists on holding elections into the 13 councils in the state today, opposition political parties have cried out against the alleged violent tendencies of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) and extreme partisanship of the electoral commission.

At separate press conferences held in Abakaliki yesterday, both the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and the Progressive Peoples Alliance, (PPA) complained that PDP was employing "arm twisting tactics to steal victory" at the polls, lamenting that despite assurances by President Goodluck Jonathan that henceforth, elections in Nigeria would be credible, free and fair, "Ebonyi State PDP insists on the old rogue ways".

Briefing journalists in his office, state Chairman of PPA, Mr. Cyril Obazi pointedly accused PDP of importing political thugs as well as intimidating, harassing and threatening the lives of its members. He said he has already lodged a complaint with the state police command.

Obazi alleged that PDP rough necks attacked and threatened PPA candidates in various council areas and wards to step down for PDP candidates in today's council elections, pointing out that some PPA faithful were attacked while their houses and cars were burnt in Inyere ward, Ezza North; Agba ward, Ishielu; Amike\Izhia ward; Ishingbo 1 and 11 wards, Ohaukwu; Izzi, Ivo, Ikwo, Afikpo North and South as they were pasting their posters for council elections.

"Few days to the election, a house, Golf car, three members of PPA including the youth leader and all their household effects were burnt by PDP thugs in Afikpo south on July 6, 2010. PPA Ward chairman in Ishingbo11 ward, Ohaukwu council, Mr. Stephen Eze, was kidnapped by PDP thugs. We are going into this election with mixed feelings, mostly of fear," he lamented.

The PPA Chairman disclosed that PDP was harboring rented thugs to be used for electoral violence in various villages in Ngbo, Effium. Ezzamgbo, Ohaukwu, Afikpo North and South, Ivo, Onicha, Ohaozara, Ezza North and Ikwo in the party's quest to seize power by all means and unleash attacks on the PPA.

He added: "Our candidates and members are marked for death for nothing. Public servants are not spared. Their names are compiled for termination of appointments should they vote for our candidate. We now see the reason for introduction of open ballot seven days to the elections against the open secret ballot stipulated by section 53 (1) of the Electoral Act. The State House of Assembly was compelled by the government to amend electoral law 007 of 2007 contrary to electoral Act 2006 and 1999 constitution. It was the same legislature that made the law which stipulated that incumbent council chairmen should resign 30 days before the election".

On what he has done about the complaints, Obazi said he has forwarded a petition to the security agencies including the police and State Security Service. However, when contacted, the Ebonyi Police Commissioner, Mr. Dipo Ayeni, said he had not received any petition from any party.

But not prepared to waste its time and resources on the council polls, Ebonyi State chapter of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, (ANPP) said it was boycotting today's election, alleging that partisan members of the state electoral commission will not conduct free, fair and credible elections.

At a press briefing at the ANPP state secretariat, the party's secretary, Mr. Ifeanyichukwu Onu, who dropped the hint declared that the same EBSIEC members who altered results during the last council elections in 2007 are still the same people who will conduct the election.

Onu disclosed that although the party went to court to challenge the irregularity in 2007, it was yet to get a copy of the judgment from the state High Court to enable it pursue the case at the appellate court. He added that EBSIEC has refused to register voters who are now 18 years of age as, according to him, the voter's register was long overdue for review. 

Expressing optimism that the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) under Prof. Attahiru Jega, would not emulate the antics of EBSIEC, Onu added: "The ANPP, Ebonyi state chapter, wants to assure all its members that the party will participate fully in all future state and federal elections conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). This is because the INEC is currently being re-organized and members who are obviously partisan were removed to ensure its independence and guarantee free and fair elections".
Source: The Guardian, 10th July 2010.

 

Councillor Dumps Politics, Establishes First Feedmill in Ebonyi

From Goddy Osuji, Abakaliki

Obinnna Ottehs a former councillor in Ohaukwu local government area of council Ebonyi state also holds a masters degree. But instead of continuing in politics that has become the profession of some of his contemporaries after university education, he went into food production where he decided to produce animal feeds for his colleagues who also benefited from Shongai Farms Benin Republic training sponsored by state government.

In this interview with Daily Sun, the graduate of animal production from Michael Okpara University and Enugu State university of Science and Technology disclosed how he decided to practise the profession in which he made first class in the University. "even before I graduated, I had started taking little note on poultry farming and while I was waiting for my youth service call up, I went into little poultry farming.

However along the line I noticed that the crux of farming lies in feeds, without which you cannot cope and with less cost in feeds you can maximize your profit vis-a –vis livestock farming. So when I got little knowledge I had to go for animal production and branched over to livestock farming so that it will give me more rooms to major in this feed production. In fact my work at Michael Okpara University which was published by one international journal in Holland is mainly on feed mill. I worked on nutrigila enzyme combined with African yam beans to grow four weeks old broiler and it was observed to be good. In other words, you can source local material that is less competent by human and with this enzyme improved feed intake of animal and that is where I developed interest and immediately we went to Shongai, I narrowed down straight on it. On arrival we were issued with form and my first intention was on feeds; that is how it all came about.

My experience at Shongai

It is a place one can hardly explain. It is more or less a tourist home and at the same time a learning environment and also a very large reservoir of farm products in Benin Republic . Most of what they eat come from there. So on reaching there, I was able to make observations within the few days we arrived. The first month of the three months duration you are taken to a section to study it and after the period you assess it and make up your mind in a computer to analyze what you have gone through and proffer a possible way to improve on what they have on ground.

The second month, you are introduced to another section with a different programme. The first section was piggery production after all that we were sandwiched and after that, everybody branched off to another section for the second month. I now went to fishery (Aquaculture) and after that they brought us together again to make assessment. We went through another sandwich into biogas production using all effluence and sewage, convert them to energy and at the same time ensure that nothing is wasted. Everything goes in circle. You can hardly see any refuse anywhere; the refuses are turned back to manure and back to sewage, from sewage to biogas. Lastly on our third month, there I now returned to feed mill which offered me a lot of opportunities to get to the level I was looking up to. I have been having a direct link with them and other farms outside Africa, communicating with them through e-mail since I came back to Nigeria ..

How I set up my farm

It wasn't funny; it all started in July 2009. The first money that came in from the loan Ebonyi state government granted us, I had to rush for the truck. Infact without it nothing would have worked. Initially the road leading to this farm was a track road, I graded and put laterite, even the electric cables that brought light to this area was my handiwork. Before this factory, I had the intention to establish a farm in my community and on coming back from the programme, government took a decision that my feed mill will be located in Abakaliki while my colleagues projects were located in their various communities where they will source their raw materials and manpower within, but government and my colleagues insisted that I should locate the feed mill which is the first of its kind in Abakaliki in the state capital. They reasoned that it will enable them have easy access from their locations. Having decided to finally settle at the state capital, I had to use my truck to evacuate the blocks I already had in my village before the programme when I was a councilor and was nursing the ambition to establish a farm in my community, even when I was considering the money at hand I had to make use of those materials.

I bought the land and brought them to this place and then started off. After which I went back for the second batch of the loan from government which I used to purchase the machines which took the entire money at hand. However there was no way the money could have solved the problem, even the commissioner for Agriculture saw the project and was highly impressed and helped to source for another loan. But before then I consulted members of my family who visited and saw what happened and helped in making available a tree for the woods to be used for the roofing of the building, which helped to relieve me of the cost. The commissioner also helped to provide additional loan after passing through swhich helped in the installation of electricity. I really laboured to make this place stand and I thank God that it has become a reality.

Machinery

I have to source for the machines from a local company in Enugu . They gave me what I wanted after I gave them my specifications. I was able to combine what I saw at Shongai with what I would be able to manage. The man even called me soon after to demand for the copies of the specifications of the machines.

Source of raw materials

We don't have many raw materials down here in the East; most of the agricultural raw materials come from the North if you want them in large quantity, maize, wheat, Soya beans and others, all come from the North. Having exhausted the fund given to me I had to source for another fund that could take me to Enugu assemble them and bring them to Abakaliki and I am making efforts to get enough money that will enable me go to North for bulk purchase because the whole essence is to spend less money on transport; buy at a cheaper rate, go to some companies that produce animal drugs. Already a company has promised to come on visitation to assess the facilities in place and know how they could make my company an outlet for their animal drugs in Ebonyi state.

Brand of feeds produced

For now I produce all poultry feeds. Whether broiler, pullet chicks, grower and layer and quill. I also produce feeds for piggery. We do hope to expand to other varieties. But we work on what people need for now and based on the fund we have at hand, so we produce the ones they will take away immediately.

Cost of investment

Majority of the fund came from the state government through its Shongai loan scheme given to us at five percent interest. Initially I budgeted N4.2 million when it was discovered that the fund was not sufficient another provision of N1 million was made available bringing the total to N5.2 million. Besides the loan, I had to meet my family which made available the timber for roofing which cannot be quantified and it is not an ordinary timber you can go to the market to buy unless ordered. Also my severance allowance as a councilor about N1.2 million was injected into the project and that was a relief to me. If you bring the total amount it comes to about N8 million

My projections

My projection about the mill is that all things being equal, I intend to branch off to some other areas like oil extraction from palm kernel and Soya beans. I hope I will able to combine these three which were in my proposal I indicated earlier. From these residuals from palm kernel after extracting oil, the efficacy of the chaff is another major source of raw material for the feed mill samething with the Soya beans and they will reduce the extra cost in raw material and at the same time bring cost of feeds to the barest minimum.

My feed is the only one located in Abakaliki and because it is the only feed mill in the state capital that informed me to focus on feed mill while in training.

Problems

My problem right now is just fund. The cost of raw material alone is enormous.

Alternative to power supply

I have some understanding with the bank that sponsored this project and they promised to loan us a 50 kv generating set to supplement Power Holding Company so that the cost of gas will not be there. However there has been constant power supply from PHCN, but it cost me a lot money to draw the electricity line to this area and it was through the efforts of the village head and other community leaders that I was able to secure the land and as the factory is in the community, I have been able to make the road motorable and given them electricity which I now see as part of my social responsibility to the community.
Source: Sun, 7th July 2010.

 

Two Kidnappers Killed in Ebonyi

Lagos — Two suspected kidnappers were Wednesday killed in Uburu, Ohaozara council area of Ebonyi State during a gun duel with soldiers of the 82 Division of Nigerian Army, Enugu.

The four-man gang had engaged the soldiers in a gun exchange, but two of them died while being conveyed to Enugu, the Division's General Officer Commanding (GOC), Maj.-Gen. Mohammed Isah, said on Thursday.

Parading one of the suspects, Chijoke Onu, in Enugu, Isah told newsmen that the gangsters had abducted Princewill Ilo and Okwi Emejulu from their residences in Enugu on Tuesday. Ilo, it was learnt, is a relation of the Secretary to the Enugu State Government.

However, Onu, an auto panel beater, said he was innocent of the allegation. According to him, he was arrested by the police on his way to a nearby community to repair a broken down vehicle. But the GOC said his men trailed the gang to Uburu, where they held their captives hostage.

"When we received information about the suspects, I authorised the operation. There was a heavy exchange of fire when my men stormed the scene where they kept their victims.

"The suspects were four in number. We arrested them, but unfortunately, two of them bled to death on our way back to Enugu and another who sustained injuries has been receiving treatment at the Military Hospital. We succeeded in rescuing the victims unhurt and they are in our custody now," he said.

According to Isah, three AK47 rifles, 51 magazines, one pump action rifle and 730 unexpended 7.62mm special bullets were recovered from the suspects' hideout. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the suspects were said to have demanded N15 million as ransom before the soldiers took them by surprise.

Meanwhile, the GOC said the Division apprehended two gun runners at Ariaria Market, Aba, Abia State, with about 100,000 firearms and munition.

He said investigation into the matter was ongoing and expressed the hope that more arrests would be made.

Isah said the army was poised to check the upsurge in crime wave in the South-East and South-South geo-political zones, and called on parents to watch the company which their children and wards kept.
Source: Daily Champion, 25th June 2010.

 

Ebonyi Police Recover More Weapons

Dennis Agbo

Abakaliki — The Ebonyi state police command has made another breakthrough in its efforts at resolving the protracted Ezza/Ezillo communal war which started in May 2008. The communal strife has claimed no fewer than one hundred lives including innocent commuters travelling along Enugu-Abakaliki highway.

The command has recovered from the buffer zone, another set of arms and ammunition that includes: four K2 rifles, three locally- made single barrel guns, one locally- made double barrel shot gun, one single barrel shot gun, 26 rounds of 5.56 life ammunition and a cutlass from an isolated spot, reasonably suspected to have been concealed by the suspected militants who unleashed terror in the area.

Briefing newsmen at the State Command Headquarters, Abakaliki, the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Diipo Ayeni said investigation into the criminal act is in progress and all hands on are deck to apprehend those who were in possession of the recovered arms and ammunition.

He also refuted an earlier report in the media that a High Court in Abakaliki has discharged and acquitted 31 suspects of the war who were earlier arraigned in connection with the crime. Ayeni rather stated that the police merely withdrew the charges against the suspects so as to re-draft the charges for better prosecution of the suspected sponsors of the two year- old communal war.

The police commissioner further disclosed that the command was able to locate two charred bodies suspected to be victims of the strife in the interior area of the buffer zone where the militants used to inhabit, adding that his men have completely taken charge of the area that now made the Enugu-Abakaliki road passable.

It would be recalled that a high -powered police squad with helicopter was dispatched to Ebonyi in April by the Inspector General of Police, Ogbonna Onovo which went and dislodged the militants that held the state hostage in the protracted communal war brought about by claims of land ownership between the Ezza and Ezillo of Isihelu local government area of the state.

CP Anyeni also said his command was able to foil a kidnap attempt on an 11 year-old, Nonso Nwagu of Nsokere village in Ezza South local government. The incident took place after his father, Emeka Nwagu sent him to buy kerosene at a nearby shop. He was trailed and kidnapped by some hoodlums on a motorcycle. "The police were alerted and they immediately swung in action. The suspects were given a hot pursuit and later arrested at Ukwuachi in Ikwo LGA. The victim was however rescued unhurt," disclosed Ayeni.

He also said that a crime prevention strategy adopted by the command is yielding some positive results as detectives on June 2, swooped on a criminal hide -out and recovered a Rugger pistol with 19 rounds of life ammunition while effort is being intensified to apprehend the hoodlums.

In another development, one Pius Omanyi was arrested on a tip-off for allegedly stealing the sum of five hundred thousand naira, property of one Chinedu Zeph. "The suspect was interrogated and he confessed to the crime. The money has been recovered and the suspect will soon be arraigned in court." Continuing on the feats of his command, the Ebonyi CP said that one Effiong Ewa Ifere Christopher and three others at large went to one Oriaku Sunday's house at Ogbonga Street in Abakaliki and robbed the victim of a laptop and other accessories valued at over one hundred and twenty thousand naira. "The suspect will soon appear in court."

Mr. Ayeni stated that his command has stepped up crime prevention measures by increasing patrols especially on weekends, boasting that the state is now a no-go area for criminals and the environment peaceful for business to thrive. He also promised to deal with any substantiated case of politicians in the state who engage in brandishing superior arms openly thereby terrorizing members of their communities.

"I also wish to assure members of the public that the command is totally committed to ensuring that adequate security of lives and property is guaranteed as, no stone will be left unturned to dislodge all criminals from the state. I once again call on members of the public to give credible information to the police since security is a collective responsibility," charged Ayeni.
Source: Vanguard, 25th June 2010.

 

PPA raises fresh worries over Ebonyi Council Polls
From Leo Sobechi, Abakaliki

THE Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) has expressed fresh concerns over the ability of the Ebonyi State Independent Electoral Commission (EBSIEC) to organise a credible council polls in the state. The party noted that the commission is an extension of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The party also questioned the preparedness of EBSIEC, arguing that it cannot conduct the election that will reflect the aspirations of the voters even if the election is pushed forward to await electoral reforms.

The PPA has therefore argued that only the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) can conduct the election.

According to Mr. Cyril Obazi, the State Chairman of PPA, the EBSIEC chaired by Mrs. Adeline Idike has already undermined the electoral proceeding as outlined by the commission as contained in the election timetable published in January.

Obazi said: "As things stand now, there is no convincing indices to show that there would be a credible council election in July 10 as promised by the state government. This is because political parties are still trying to conclude their primaries and submit names of candidates to EBSIEC. But going by the EBSIEC timetable the submission of names of candidates ought to have elapsed on April 15 in accordance with the deadline."

Worried by the level of preparation by the electoral body, Obazi called for the dissolution of EBSIEC. He suggested that the INEC in Ebonyi should conduct the election in all the 13 councils of the state as this was about the only way the electorate would know that they could make their choice under a free and fair contest.

Obazi insists that the failure to dissolve EBSIEC to allow INEC to conduct the council election would amount to an indication that the government has plans to manipulate the election. Obazi said that except such a measure is taken in Ebonyi, the calls for free and fair elections and desire for responsible governance at the councils would continue to be a mirage.

In the meantime, a socio-political group, Ivo Progressive Association (IPA) has warned the Commissioner for Inter-Party Dialogue, Mr James Aroh Nweke, not to tamper with the election in Ivo council saying that the communities have picked their consensus choice.

In a statement signed by Chief Martin Onu, Donatus Ozieze and Paul Mbazu, Chairman, Vice Chairman and Publicity Secretary respectively, IPA stated that in its pursuit of good governance in the area, it has identified imposition of leadership as the bane of development.

The group said that "after evaluation of aspirants for the chairmanship position Ivo council, IPA adopted Chinedu Makwe as the peoples choice" to avert the machinations of some influential individuals to impose dubious characters on the people.

The IPA explained that in order to ensure responsible behaviour at the councils, the people's voice against fraud should be respected. It said that it decided to endorse a candidate that it could hold accountable.

"We are witnesses to non execution of substantial projects in the 11 wards of Ivo council in the last dispensation. In the areas of appointments, we saw inexperienced people appointed to sensitive positions. Teachers have been complaining but the use of money to suppress their agitations. The appointments seriously negated Governor Martin Elechi's educational policy in the state and it is affecting the standard of education in Ivo as envisioned by Governor Elechi," the IPA stated.

While noting that one of the major causes of crises in Ivo council is the insistence of highly placed individuals to impose candidates and appropriate council powers such as through chairman and councillors, IPA pleaded with the state government not to be swayed by threats of some people to join the opposition against Elechi's second term ambition saying that the consensus approach would ensure peace, equity and harmony in the area.
Source: The Guardian, 30th April 2010.

 

Ebonyi crisis: Police arrest top INEC official, 48 others

 Kenneth Ofoma, Abakaliki

Ebonyi State Police Command yesterday said it has arrested 48 persons including a top official of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and two traditional rulers as part of investigations to unveil the masterminds of the crisis that engulfed Ezillo and Ezza-Ezillo communities in recent time.

In a statement by the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Dipo Ayeni and made available to  in Abakaliki, he said law and order had been restored and maintained in the hitherto crisis-ridden area which paralysed socio-economic activities in the state.

He said the militants have since been dislodged from the area, while investigation was on to bring the suspected masterminds to justice.

Ayeni said another crisis that recently erupted in the state at Akpoha community in Afikpo North Local Government Area that led to the murder of one person and wanton destruction of property has been brought under control.He said that 16 suspects were arrested and charged to court for murder while 21 others were arraigned for various offences including arson, kidnapping, malicious damage and burglary.

Meanwhile, Ayeni has said the command has appointed a new Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Vincent Nwodo, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP).

Nwodo replaced Mr. Chris Anyanwu, who had been transferred to another division

Nwodo, who hails from Nkanu East local Government Area of Enugu State is an alumnus of the University of Port-Harcourt, Rivers State, where he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology. He has worked in several Commands and formations in the Nigeria Police Force.
Source: Daily Champion, 22nd April 2010.

 

Ebonyi, Taraba Get Ministerial Nominees
From Alifa Daniel, Abuja

TWO weeks after being left out of the Executive Council of the Federation (EXCOF), Acting President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday submitted a list of two ministerial nominees from Taraba and Ebonyi states to the Senate.

They are Obadiah Ando (Taraba) and Prof. Christian Onyebuchi Chukwu (Ebonyi).

The former nominee from Taraba State was not screened for reasons associated with the local politics of the state.

Even the Presidency that replaced him offered no reasons in Jonathan's letter, which simply forwarded the names "for the consideration and confirmation of the Senate".

Also yesterday, the Upper House confirmed the chairman and members of the Code of Conduct Bureau.

They are Sam Saba (chairman), Ibrahim Manzo, Stephen Bekefuls, Ambassador Habib Elabor, Dr. Christiana Ekeja Okwoli, Alhaji Disina Mohammed, Okechukwu Ikechi Nwadinobi and Ademola Adebo as members.

The members were screened by the Senate Committee on Ethics, Code of Conduct and Public Petitions led by Senator Omar Hambagda.

In another letter dated April 5, 2010, Jonathan condoled with the Senate over the death of two of its members from Gombe State, Tawar Umbi Wada and Kawu Peto Dukku, who died 48 hours apart nearly three weeks ago.

The Acting President wrote: "The sudden demise of these distinguished legislators, at the highpoint of concerted efforts towards the consolidation of our democratic governance through constitutional reforms, is indeed, sad and a great loss, not only to the Upper Legislative Chamber, but also to their constituencies in Gombe State and the nation in general".

He said the nation would be grateful for the contributions the late lawmakers made in furthering democracy in the country.
Source: The Guardian, 21st April 2010.

 

Communal Strife: Victims' Families Flood Ebonyi Govt House

By Dennis Agbo, Abakaliki

Reprieve is still far from the families of victims of Ezza, Ezillo commu-        nal strife where so many  have lost their lives.  Since May 10, 2008 when the crisis started, the number of  casualties  is said to have risen to over 400  and  this number keeps rising . Police men  and other innocent travelers are daily exposed to danger along the  Enugu-Abakaliki express road.

One of the conspicuous victims of the strife is Pastor Ayahanden Sunday Ntan, an architect attached to the office of the presidency at Dondan barracks in Lagos . Pastor Ntan along with his nephew, a driver and police orderly were murdered inside their Toyota Seina car at the war spot on the night of  Friday March 12 when the four were traveling to their country home in Cross River state for a burial from Lagos.

They were probably not aware that passing through the 2 kilometre Ezza-Ezillo stretch during the  day  is  dangerous  and worse at night. They were said to be in haste to meet up with the burial but got to Enugu at night and decided to sleep over in a hotel at Abakaliki, from where they could take off early  in the morning to Cross River .

They left Enugu for Abakaliki at about 8pm but that was the last communication they had with their relations who were anxiously waiting  for them to announce their  arrival at  Cross River state.

In the morning of Saturday, passersby saw  a fresh burnt Toyata Seina bus with four unrecognized burnt corpses inside it. The police in Abakaliki confirmed the incident but stated that it was not sure of the identity of the charred bodies.

After pressure from Saturday Vanguard, the Ebonyi state police command through the state PPRO, ASP Chris Anyanwu confirmed the incident, stating however that the command is still investigating the death of the presidential aide and his co travelers. According to the PPRO, "We woke that Saturday morning to confirm that some persons were attacked at the Ezillo war spot. A vehicle was burnt and we have committed the incident to thorough  investigation."

Though the PPRO then said he could not confirm the identity of the victims, he added that their men are investigating everything about the incident.

"That area is troublesome and we advise people not to travel that route by night. We have however beefed up security in that area but the problem is night time. We have Armoured Personnel Carriers, APC, that patrol the place at nights but we still advise people not to travel the area by night because those militants apply guerilla attack which is why we took  away our men at night."

When Saturday Vanguard reporter went back two days ago  to ascertain the extent the investigation on the burnt four persons had gone, the PPRO was said to be very busy . The Commissioner of  Police, Diipo Ayeni  who patrols the area occasionally in the company of  other deployed personnel  with helicopter said that  investigation is still on with the CID.

But Pastor Ntan and his relations are just  some of  the many victims of the communal war. The command is also battling to find two missing Youruba guys identified as Taye Oyewusi from Osun state and Murtala Adesua from Ogun state who  their relations believe got missing at the war zone  in their Passat Volkswagen car as they attempted to cross the spot. Neither their dead bodies nor the car have been traced since the incident took place on February 12, 2010.

Mr. Babatude Williams, the family spokesman gave the particulars of the car Registration number  as ES 398 SMK with chassis number WVW222312PEL06003 and engine number ABS356083. According to Williams, "they both communicated with us last in Enugu on their way  to Abakaliki and since then till now, we haven't heard  from any of them and their phones are no longer going.

We tried as much as possible to check the entire road from Cross River to Enugu  to find out if there was any accident on the road or robbery but there was nothing like that. We found out  that between Enugu and Abakaliki,  there is  a communal crisis in Ezza and Ezillo and that many cars and lives were burnt at the spot.

"From the information we got,many cars are in Ezza and Ezillo community and they  are robbing  in the name of communal war. I have been to mortuaries in Ebonyi and saw many dead bodies killed in the crisis but many are difficult to identify because they killed and burnt them. I am calling on the Inspector General of Police and other Nigerians to intervene in the matter since the matter is beyond my personal power," pleaded Williams.

The Mbaise Welfare Town Union in Abakaliki has also sent an SOS to Governor Martin Elechi of Ebonyi state over the killing of one of their member, Mr. Dominic Ekelaka by the warriors of Ezza/Ezillo on Tuesday March 23 2010 at the war spot.

The late trader was said to have previously avoided the use of the road since the war aggravated but allegedly used the road after a local radio announced that the road is now free for use as security has been beefed up in the area. The union therefore condemned the mindless killings of innocent souls in the area.

"For the avoidance of doubt, Mr. Dominic Ekalaka from Mbaise in Imo state and indeed all other innocent citizens have no cause to be killed on a federal highway and for a war they have no stake in.

"We therefore call on your (Governor Elechi) government to intensify efforts to get to the root cause of the Ezza/Ezillo crisis and be decisive in finding a lasting solution to the crisis to stop further wasting of innocent blood on  the Enugu-Abakaliki highway," the Mbaise people charged Governor Elechi.

They also demanded for compensation for the families of the affected victims especially their own late son.

Cross River state government  has also sent a delegation to Ebonyi state government on the presidential aide and his relations that lost their lives on the road. The delegation was received by the speaker of Ebonyi state House of Assembly, Austin Nwankwoagu, on behalf of the governor. The speaker commiserated with the Cross River people over their loss and pleaded with the Ebonyi government  to make  frantic efforts to resolve the crisis.

A social critic, Chimere Nwugu condemned the carnage which he described as worrisome. He said it has portrayed Ebonyi people and the Elechi government in a bad light. "It has also done irreparable and incalculable damage to the name and image of the state and her citizenry," said Nwugo. The critic advised that the Ebonyi government exploits  the opportunity of Inspector General's intervention and arrest some suspects in the crisis to help fish out their alleged sponsors to face the music.

The Nigeria Police Force  has  however come alive to its responsibility of seriously confronting the communal crisis as a police helicopter, reportedly deployed by Inspector General, Ogbonna Onovo, started surveillance of the buffer zone on Wednesday with fears that more suspected militants would be caught at the war front.

Though the Ebonyi state Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Chris Anyanwu, refused to open up on the police activities, he  promises to do that at an appropriate time.

A victim of the militants' attack early this week, Mrs. Lillian Onovo who works with the Federal Medical Centre Abakaliki narrated to our reporter that even though a police armoured tank was escorting them across the area on Monday, the militants attacked the convoy, killed one person while the rest of  them escaped through the bush.

The police reportedly caught some of the militants last weekend in an area where the leader of the hired militants simply identified as Dada (because he wears dreadlock) was among the seven caught and  taken to Abuja . Dada, the leader of the gunmen was however said to have died on the route to Abuja from gunshot wounds sustained on his lower region.
Source: Vanguard, 16th April 2010.

 

 

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