Effium 55: Group faults Ebonyi govt's panel of inquiry

 By Echem Ogodo

Ezza-Effium Consultative Assembly, ECA, has faulted the composition of panel of inquiry to investigate the escape and/or unlawful release of 55 out of the 66 war mercenaries arrested by the military in connection with Effium Community war.

In a statement made available to the press on Sunday after the Executive Council meeting of the Assembly in Abakaliki as endorsed by the Chairman, Mathias Chukwuma Aligwe and Secretary, Bernarch Orichi, the Assembly noted with dismay that the panel was composed of only government officials when it is expected that independent panel of inquiry would have made the exercise more credible.

The statement reads in part; "Risng from our Executive Council Meeting, we the Ezza-Effium Consultative Assembly (ECA), after careful deliberations and evaluations of government and other stakeholders actions on the Ezza-Effiun and Ufiom war, especially on the outcome of the Ebonyi State Executive Council meeting of Thursday, 15th April, 2021, part of which was the constitution of a panel of inquiry headed by the State Commissioner for Internal Security, Border Peace and Conflict Resolution, Hon. Stanley Okoro Emegha, to investigate the escape and/or unlawful release of 55 out of the 66 hired mercenaries arrested in Effium community by the Nigerian Military from police custody. 

"The State Government, as part of the outcome of the said Executive Council meeting, also announced its plans to establish IDP camps to resettle the natives of Effium community displaced by the crisis.

"The decision of the Executive Council of Ebonyi State over the issue  which resulted to setting up the panel to investigate the matter, even when Ebonyi State Police Command had issued statement to the contrary, has vindicated the Assembly's earlier alarms that hired mercenaries were being used to exterminate our people in Effium Community.

"We equally wish to vehemently fault and reject the composition of the panel of inquiry into the escape of the 55 mercenaries which is solely made up of Ebonyi State government.

"We demand for the constitution of a panel of inquiry that is independent, because the State Government is a prime suspect in the matter, and therefore, cannot be a judge in her own case", the statement disclosed.

The Ezza-Effium Consultative Assembly however commended government for pragmatic approaches in ending the hostility in the area, but expressed worry that some of the efforts of the government are no longer timely.

"In view of the foregoing, the Ezza-Effium Consultative Assembly wishes to state that we applaud the decision of the State Government led by Engr. Chief David Umahi to hearken to the plethora of calls by different groups, including ECA, for probe into the escape from the police custody 55 out of the 66 arrested mercenaries by the Nigerian military in war-torn Effium community.

"We also commend the State government for procuring motorbikes for the security agents on a peace mission in Effium community to enable them access areas that can't be accessed by their patrol vehicles.

"We however wish to emphatically note that these after-thoughts efforts of government towards ending the Effium carnage came very late, and regrettably when hundreds of natives, especially Ezza-Effium people had been killed, thousands of them displaced and their properties worth billions of naira destroyed.

"The decision of the State government to build an IDP camps in some locations in Effium community to resettle the displaced natives is more like medicine after death and unacceptable. No responsible government can allow her citizens displaced in an avoidable and man-made warfare in a community like Effium  and watched the people to be wandering about for nearly three months now without any palliatives, only to wake-up from slumber, when the people are already getting acclimatized with such man-made situation to announce plans to build an IDP camps for them. This is not only ridiculous, but shows that Ebonyi State government is playing with the sensibilities of the people.

"We therefore, wish to counsel Ebonyi State government to rescind her decision of building IDP camps in Effium community, and think of assisting the survivors of the Effium premeditated carnage to rebuild their houses destroyed by the hired mercenaries and stop the grandstanding", the statement concluded.

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