26 people have been detained in connection with the most recent murders and arsons that happened in Ekoli Edda Community, in the Afikpo South Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
Stanley Okoro-Emegha, the state chairman of the All Progressives Congress, and Eni Chima, a former chairman of the Afikpo South LGA and candidate for the Federal House of Representatives in the Afikpo North/South Constituency in the general election of 2023, were among those detained.
The deaths and arson that occurred in the neighbourhood on December 26, 2022, according to the police, were committed by them (the suspects). Two people, including a police inspector, died in the incident, and two houses were set on fire.
This was announced by the Ebonyi State Police Command on Monday in Abakaliki during a news conference.
The command, which spoke through its spokesperson, SP Chris Anyanwu, charged the suspects with carrying out the heinous deeds and promised to bring them before the court as soon as possible.
The suspects were charged by the command with murder as well as arson, conspiracy, armed robbery, and unlawful firearm possession.
Despite the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry established by State Governor David Umahi, the police claim that the suspects must face the full force of the law.
SP Anyanwu said, “The key actors among the suspects arrested, volunteered useful ‘confessional statements’ that exposed the aggregate of overwhelming findings hereunder outlined:
“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.”