No fewer than 26 suspects have been arrested over the recent killings and arson in Ekoli Edda Community, in the Afikpo South Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
Among those arrested were the state Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Stanley Okoro-Emegha and a former chairman of the Afikpo South LGA and Federal House of Representatives candidate for Afikpo North/South Constituency in the 2023 general election, Eni Chima.
The suspects were paraded at the police headquarters in Abakaliki on Monday, January 23, 2023.
The State Commissioner of Police, Aliyu Garba through the Command’s spokesperson, SP Chris Anyanwu said the suspects were arrested in connection with the killings and razing of houses on 26th of December 2022. Also, for conspiracy, armed robbery, arson, unlawful possession of firearms, malicious damage and murder of three persons; Esien Kalu, Inspector Festus Akpan and Emu Orji.
According to the police, the suspects must face the wrath of the law, inspite of the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry set up by Governor David Umahi, of the state.
“The key actors among the suspects arrested, volunteered useful ‘confessional statements’ that exposed the aggregate of overwhelming findings hereunder outlined,” the PPRO stated.
“The fracas that engulfed Ekoli-Edda on 26/12/2022 ignited at about 1600 hours during a face-off between the security aides of Hon Stanley Okoro Emegha versus a faction of Ekoli-Edda youth believed to be loyalists of Hon Eni Uduma Chima.
“The protracted political rivalry/supremacy struggle between the duo, is the cause of the showdown that took place. Interestingly, the two political stalwarts hail from same community, belong to same political party and even live in close proximity.
“The visit of the APC chairman to his village on the fateful day, with his aides, infuriated the fragment of the youths in the area who are purportedly adherents of Eni Uduma Chima, hence the showdown that ensued.
“The war songs chanted by Egwu Famous Chinedu, the town crier, amidst hitting/blowing of his gong/trumpet, respectively, galvanised the youth into further action, hence, the rampage and escalation of the brouhaha.”
He added, “The investigation further revealed that an attempt to arrest one Aruah said to be the leader of the Ekoli-Edda youth warriors, brought in the warriors who were reserved for the purpose of fighting in the boundary dispute between them and a neighbouring community in Cross River State. The said warriors wielded sophisticated prohibited firearms and their actions further degenerated the situation.
“The prompt intervention of His Excellency, Dave Nweze Umahi, as the father and Chief Security Officer of the state, went a long way to abate the hostilities.
“Without minding whose ox is gored, the governor ordered that the two political stalwarts be arrested and detained, even as the duo are key members of his political party. He further enhanced and facilitated the arrest of the perpetrators cum recovery of arms/ammunition.
“Also in his quest to restore peace in Edda Clan, the governor visited the area more than three times and eventually constituted a Board of Enquiry and Reconciliation headed by distinguished Senator Sunny Ogbuoji.
“It is crystal clear that the supremacy tussle raging between Hon Stanley Okoro Emegha and Hon Eni Uduma Chima is the cause of the ill-fated December 26th conflict at Ekoli-Edda, Afikpo-South of Ebonyi State.
“Fourteen out of the entire suspects arrested (some still at large) will be arraigned immediately in court as prima facie case of conspiracy, armed robbery, arson, unlawful possession of firearms and malicious damage have been established against them.” the spokesperson added.
Items recovered from the suspects include; one AK 47 rifle, and its live ammunition, 2 pump-action rifles, 1 Dane gun, 1 village gong, 1 trumpet and 3 AK 47 magazines.