Ekoli Edda community in Afikpo South Local Government Area of Ebonyi State on Tuesday petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari and the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, over the alleged subtle move by the state government to free persons indicted in the killing of a pregnant woman, police inspector and other youths in the community.
A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party in Ebonyi State, Chief Julius Oji who disclosed the development in Abakaliki, accused the Ebonyi State government of attempting to release the suspects, currently in police custody, without proper trial by a competent court of law.
DAILY POST recalls that police inspector Festus Akpan and two civilians were killed on December 26, 2022, when hoodlums engaged security operatives in a gun duel at Ekoli Edda community.
Governor David Umahi had set up a panel of Inquiry to, among other things, find out the remote and immediate causes of the crisis in the community.
However, Chief Oji, who is one of the conveners of Edda Identity, a socio-political group in the community, had in a statement signed and made available to newsmen in Abakaliki, alleged that the panel a ruse to deflect public attention from germane issues.
Oji, who accused the governor of playing politics with the crisis, pointed at the panel’s prejudicial stances, as reflected in its alleged advice to suspects who testified to “go and make peace” among themselves instead of allowing the law to take its course.
“This is a totally different thing from what the Edda people want. Why the cover-up here and there now? Instead of dealing with the main issues on ground, the panel is busy with petty matters, that will not eventually bring lasting peace to Edda. For instance, one John Emegha went there and they said he used to post something on Facebook and that he should desist from doing so,” Oji stated.
He further opined that the panel was set up to deceive the Edda people, alleging that the ulterior motive was to release the suspects and let them go scot-free.
“They won’t come out clearly to tell us who killed those people, who killed the policemen, and who burnt those houses in Edda. This is totally unacceptable to us and it’s important that the whole world hear our cries now. We, therefore, demand the arraignment and trial of those suspects, to serve as deterrents to others in future,” he said.
He further said that the people of Ekoli Edda had rejected every move by the governor to release the suspects before the elections.
The community, he said, applauded the Inspector-General of Police for the efforts made so far to restore order to the community.
“We also call on President Muhammadu Buhari, to deploy special forces to Edda clan to avert further killings in future,” Oji said.
In a swift reaction, Governor Umahi’s aide, Chooks Okoh, Special Assistant on Media and Strategy, said: “It is very unfortunate that this is coming from someone who should know better. Should things be done following due process or via the thoughts and caprices of one person?
“The Police had arrested people and released those they believe do not have questions to answer, must the supposed innocent be punished because someone somewhere believes he is guilty?”
On the allegation that the commission is biased, Okoh said: “With such a jaundiced disposition, the commission can be called by whatever name such a person chooses. A commission headed by a former Senator, a stooge?”
He added: “All I can assure you is that Governor Umahi wants a lasting peace in Edda and the composition of the commission will certainly deliver it. Everything is not politics, this one is not.”