Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
Ebiri and Nguzu autonomous community in Nguzu Edda, Afikpo South LGA of Ebonyi has pleaded with the Federal Government to urgently institute an investigation into the killing of a 19-year-old indigene, Chidi Oji Arua.
A member of the family, David Olughu Ibiam, who made the appeal in the petition he made available to newsmen on Friday in Abuja lamented that no single arrest had been made, one week after the ugly incident.
Ibiam further alleged that the deceased was shot by a top politician in the area, pleading that the intervention of the Federal Government and the had become necessary as the body of the slain boy had not even been released to the family in spite of official report made at Nguzu police post.
David alleged that the politician had bluntly refused to release the remains of the boy, emphasising that “the series of events that brought about the unleashing of the present siege and banditry on Nguzu community started after Governor David Umahi’s broadcast banning burials, wedding ceremonies and all activities that run contrary to social distancing advisory.
“The governor’s broadcast was necessary to stem the spread of COVID-19 pandemic and the Eze-in-Council ensured strict compliance with the directive. A local medium of information adequately disseminated the information and also ensured that no family contravened the directive.
“Little wonder, there was no gathering for burials throughout the length and breadth of the community as families that could not postpone their burials only solemnly and quietly put away their deceased member,” he said.
According to him, the politician had constituted his boys into a taskforce to ensure people complied with the government directive, alleging that the purported taskforce had been abusing the rights of the people which in turn led to the crisis that erupted right inside his compound.
He noted that a good number of Nguzu people sustained injuries from gunshots, while the 19-year-old Chidi Oji was shot dead and carried away by the taskforce, led by the politician.
“Having stirred the crisis, the taskforce members rushed back to their leader, who was already stationed at the Ekoli Joint Hospital with his squad.
“They stormed Nguzu in two vehicles, and vigorously attacked the premises of Nkemka Okoro Onuma shooting persistently and intensively.
“They came out of Nkemka’s premises and continued to shoot heavily and sporadically which necessitated the people scampering for safety.
“As the shooting was going on, he sat back in one of the vehicles and watched his boys attack the peaceful community and thereafter involved some soldiers and policemen to assist him to cover his tracks.
“I want to appeal to the government to ensure that justice is served to deter people from taking the lives of people which they never created,” he appealed.
Reacting to the incident, Ebonyi State Police Public Relation Officer (PPRO), DSP Loveth Odah, said: “You are not the first person that has called concerning this; I keep telling people that I am not aware and if someone was killed. The family ought to have gone to the police station to report.
“However, I want to tell you that the Nigeria Police Force has a way and category it handles matter according to the gravity of the offence committed. Murder case is not a case that should be reported at a police post but the family might know. So, let me get in touch with the DPO of the area and find out from him.
“Again, I want to tell you that there is no report on that in my command. It is my mandate to protect lives and property in Ebonyi State; so, if you know the family, or through your news link, please tell them that anybody with such serious matter should not sit at home and wait for us to start asking questions. They should go ahead and report the matter to the police. They should not play when they are claiming that their son’s life has been taken.
“Ebonyi State is not a crime area; when someone’s life is taken we view it seriously because our state is the most peaceful state in our geo-political zone. Apart from the interstate communal crises, we don’t have major crisis here. Anyone who takes another person’s life indiscriminately, we will deal with the person according to the law,” she assured