By Peter Okutu
UNEASINESS and tension have enveloped the sleepy Ekoli community in Afikpo South Local Government Area of Ebonyi State following violent clash between youths of the area and operatives of Ebubeagu security outfit.
The clash, which took place on Monday, 26th December, 2022, led to the death of three persons, including a policeman and a section of the residence of the State chairman of All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief Stanley Okoro Emegha was also burnt by the irate youths.
The community alleged that the APC Chairman has been using members of Ebubeagu security outfit to intimidate and harass them in his effort to establish political dominance and control of the community and indeed, Afikpo South Council Area.
Reacting, the APC chairman said: “Yes, it is true. They attacked me tonight at Ekoli Edda community, and the same people, some of whom I know, I have just heard, burnt my house.”
Narrating his ordeal, elder brother to one of the slain youths, Mission Kalu Egwu, lamented that his sibling’s killing was senseless and premeditated, adding that the community had been locked down as a consequence of the crisis in the area.
According to Egwu: “What happened in Ekoli Edda was an unfortunate and senseless killing. It is unfortunate in the sense that the life of a vibrant young man in active community service has been cut short. It is senseless that there is no provocation for his killing.
“Chief Stanley Okoro-Emegha who usually comes to Ekoli with truckloads of security personnel comprising Policemen, NSCD Corps members, soldiers and Ebubeagu guards came back to Ekoli today, the 26th day of December, 2022 and started patrolling the community with his Ebubeagu guards, shooting sporadically at the Ekenta Market Square, Ekoli Edda. This was bad for a community with incessant threats of IPOB attack and communal crisis with Cross River communities of Erei in Biase Local Government Area.
“The alarming situation warranted the youths of Ekoli Edda to rush out as everyone else ran for their dear lives. When the community youths started sounding traditional alarm as warning to villagers of the dangers, they ran away to Amangwu Edda from where they later regrouped with reinforcement at Ogwuma Edda and then came back shooting heavily, making villagers scamper for safety and in the process shot and killed my younger brother, Mr. Eseni Kalu Egwu.
“Onu Eku of Ekoli Edda, who was equally shot by them, is lying in critical condition in a hospital. The village is under complete lock-down.
“I now understand that what happened today was an (alleged) agreed conspiracy between Okoro-Emegha and few of his friends, who are now on the run from Ekoli. I am afraid to start moving to Abakaliki this night to make statements to the Police as the community is still under siege by Ebubeagu. I shall make official statements to the police by morning,” he lamented.
The development prompted a protest by the women of the affected community.
Appealing for calm, Governor David Umahi said: “Our dear women of Edda, it is a painful thing that your children are the ones putting you people in this kind of situation. It is a painful thing. What is he (Stanley) vying for, I don’t know. They killed and even killed a policeman who didn’t do anything. I have directed the arrest of Eni and Stanley and those involved as some have been apprehended”.
While the community was trying to come to terms with the fate that befell them, another incident occurred last Sunday, 1st January, 2023 at about 2:30 a.m., which led to the burning of the house of the Afikpo-South Ebubeagu Commander, Oyeku Kalu Chima located at Owutu Edda community by suspected hoodlums in the area. His wife, Urenwa Kalu Chima was also killed by the assailants. She was shot dead, according to an eyewitness account.
Ebonyi State Police Command confirmed the incident, saying “it has not been established who perpetrated the dastardly act.”
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