Ezza-Effium communal crisis: Group accuses Effium of flouting ceasefire pact

A group, Ezza-Effium Consultative Forum (ECF), on Monday accused Effium people of flouting the ceasefire pact reached in the ongoing reconciliation efforts of the State government.

In a recent meeting with governor David Umahi, stakeholders of both communities, in Ohaukwu local government area of Ebonyi state, reached an agreement to ceasefire in the Ezza, Ezza-Effium clash which has led to the death of many and the destruction of properties.

But the Forum’s Chairman, Mr. Aligwe Mathias Chukwuma, and the Secretary, Mr. Bernard Orichi, while briefing journalists in Abakaliki, alleged that despite the ceasefire agreement reached, Effium warriors had continued to launch attacks, killing scores of Ezza-Effium people and setting their houses ablaze, daily.

They alleged that 85% of security agents posted in Effium community had been hijacked by the Ohaukwu Council Chairman, Mr Clement Odah, who were allegedly using them to secure his home town, and his residence, adding that the security agents were aiding Effiumite warriors to attack Ezza-Effium people.

They appealed to State government to call the Effium people to order by cautioning them to desist from violating the ceasefire agreement.

The Ezza-Effium Consultative Forum further warned that if Effium warriors refused to desist from attacking and killing their people, they might not continue to fold their hands and watch them wipe their people out of existence.

He said, “First, we wish to publicly condemn this needless crisis and everyone directly or indirectly behind it. We pray God to expose and punish anybody who has hands in this ongoing pogrom in our dear and once peaceful community.

“However, we have observed with dismay, some disturbing developments that we felt there is need to alert the public before it is too late.

“You could recall that on February 23, 2021, the governor of Ebonyi State, Dr. David Umahi convened separate meetings with stakeholders of Ezza and that of Effium at Ecumenical Centre and the old EXCO Chambers, Government House, Abakaliki, respectively; with the aim of finding lasting solution to the needless crisis that erupted in our community.

“But, it is unfortunate to let the world know that the Effiumites disregarded and ignored the reconciliation efforts of the state government and have continued to attack and kill our people as well as burning down houses belonging to Ezza people.

“For instance, while the governor was still meeting with stakeholders of Ezza clan at Ecumenical Centre on February 23, 2021, reports came in that Effium warriors and their hired mercenaries were attacking Ugoeze and Onueroro villages where they succeeded in killing over 21 of our people and burnt down houses. 10 of our people were abducted alive and have been missing till date.

“On 24th February, Governor Umahi also convened a joint meeting with our stakeholders and the stakeholders of Effium clan, but it was disheartening that while the meeting was still going-on, report also came in that Effium warriors and their hired mercenaries were attacking Okpobashi where they ended up killing over 10 of our people and setting many houses ablaze, including a church.

“Recall also that after the two days peace meetings which Governor Umahi personally presided over, far reaching resolutions towards ending the crisis were made, part of which was that our people and Effiumites were given two weeks to make wider consultations in order to have a common ground that would enable the state government take a decision that would bring lasting peace in our community.

“The Governor also threatened to hold responsible, stakeholders of either Ezza or Effium who allowed their people to foment trouble in the area again, while the government searches for a lasting peace.

“But. it is regrettable that while our people have embraced peace, the Effiumites have refused to lay down their arms and toe the path of peace.

“We are saddened to tell the general public that amidst the ongoing reconciliation by the state government, they are still launching attacks, killing our people and burning our properties.

“In the last 14 days that this peace process started, no day passes without the Effium warriors and their hired mercenaries attacking at least one or two of Ezza-Effium territories, killing our people and destroying their properties.

“Places the Effium warriors and their hired mercenaries have attacked since February 23, 2021, include but not limited to the following: attack on Igbudoke village where they killed many people and set several houses ablaze; attack on Hilltop area in Ezza-Effium, where they killed many of our people and abducted one Ezza man, Chukwuma Nwuzo Awo who is still missing; attack on Inikiri on the wee hours of March 5th 2021 and killed several people and set ablaze many houses; attack on Egugwu, near Akparata on the same 5th March, 2021, killed many and abducted 4 persons and the attack Izilelu/amawula Ezza-Effium, killed people and abducted many of our people, including Jacinta Nwali, James Nwali, Nwaokpoku Ajuoguta and Maria Nwali Oke, among others who are missing till date.

“Note that these are just a few of the attacks the Effium warriors and their hired mercenaries have carried out on our people since February 23rd 2021, which Ebonyi State government convened reconciliation meetings between our stakeholders and that of the Effium.

“Surprisingly and most worrisome is the fact that 85 percentage of the security agents deployed to the area have been hijacked by the Council Chairman of Ohaukwu LGA, Mr. Clement Odah, who uses them to secure Akparata, his home town and his Effium urban residence, where the Effium warriors and their hired mercenaries are camped, from which they strike and massacre Ezza people consistently.

“So, the Effium warriors are under the protective care of the security agents who seem to be aiding them to continue to perpetrate this genocide against our people.

“We therefore call on Ebonyi State government led by Governor David Umahi to note that Effiumites have refused to see the need to embrace peace even when our people have shown enough dispositions for peace, in obedience to the ongoing peace efforts by the government.

“We wish to state as pained and already near eliminated people that we may not continue to fold our hands and watch strangers; the Uffiomites who are migrants from Cross River, whose presence in Ebonyi of today was an accident with no clear origin or any trace at all to our Progenitor, His Eminence Ekumenyi, to exterminate Ezza-Effium who are the indigenous people and descendants of his first son, Ezekuna,” ECF concluded.

When contacted, Ohaukwu council chairman, Hon. Timothy Odah who is from Effium community dismissed the allegation that he hijacked 85 person security men post to the to his protect his personal property as figment of the group’s imagination.

“Police is a regimental organization, they work according to specific instructions. The CP gives them directives… “No civilian has power to control the police. I advise the group to go to Effium and see things for themselves and if possible give assistance to the displaced people.

“Those people giving press conference are causing more damage than those fighting in the bush. I commend security agents they are doing there work professionally” he said.

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