Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi has directed Council Chairmen in Ebonyi State to organize local vigilante groups with immediate effect and place them at strategic locations.
The order was issued to forestall further breakdown of law and order in the affected communities and the state at large.
On Monday herdsmen attacked four communities in the state and killed at least 18 persons, including a Methodist Priest, while several others were injured. They also abducted some women in the communities who are yet to be found.
Ebonyi State Commissioner for Information and State Orientation, Barr. Orji Uchenna Orji, told newsmen:
“EXCO frowned very seriously on the killings at Egedegede Community in Ishielu Local Government Area. The Governor had visited the scene yesterday and demanded justice for the victims from the security agencies.
“The LGA Chairmen were directed to form local vigilantes and put cross-bars at strategic locations. EXCO directed that 100 Neighbourhood Watch per LGA be deployed to effectively police our various communities.
“EXCO noted the report on Effium/Ezza Effium and commended the efforts of government in establishing additional two mobile police units in the communities and providing additional 600 soldiers to the affected community.
“EXCO considered a report on the activities of the chairman of Ohaukwu Local Government Area and all elected/appointed officials from the Area. EXCO frowned at the actions and inactions of the elected and appointed public office holders which were responsible for the crisis in the area.
“EXCO recommended to Ebonyi State House of Assembly that all elected/appointed officials from Effium and Ezza Effium including the Councilors, the Council Chairman and the EBHA Member be suspended from office.
“EXCO resolved to place dusk to dawn curfew in Effium/Ezza Effium community with effect from 31st March 2021 till normalcy returns to the place. EXCO further resolved that anybody who sends false information or false alarm on the situation in Effium/Ezza Effium shall be prosecuted.
“EXCO approved N843m for the first Phase of earth work and concreting of a section of the Airport taxi way (1.3Km section). EXCO further approved N117m for the internal partitioning at international market.”
A villager, Comrade Okey Emmanuel, said the herdsmen abducted the women who were returning from the market on the day of the incident as they were leaving the affected communities.
“What happened here is a dark cloud that has befallen these communities. We are talking about the dead. An Anambra man also lost his life. Before now, he just buried his son. I counted up to 16 bodies and some are still in the bush.
“The number of corpses we cannot tell. The herdsmen had ulterior motive. Their coordinator’s name is Rashidi. He said when they were leaving the community, he will make the community shed tears and I believe this is the tears.
“We are talking about the dead but there are some females who were coming back from the market and we don’t know their whereabouts now. That means they must have taken them away. I urge the government and local government chairman to handle this matter squarely.
“The herders are not happy because they were destroying crops and we sanctioned them. But now, they came back. Are they rating cows more than human beings?”
The Town Union President of Nkalagu autonomous community, Joseph Chibo said “The people of Igbesa are saddened by this development. It is a very bad situation for our people. Enugu State is equally affected. Despite all the efforts of the governor for us to live peacefully with these people, we are saddened by this development.
“It’s a big shock and we can’t think right. How do we know that strangers who left our place a year ago would suddenly come back and the next thing we are hearing is massacre?
“We have been living peacefully with these people only to wake up with these corpses as a gift. Personally, I counted 16 in number.”
The Town Union President of Nkalaha community, Mr. Ikechukwu Oduwa said “I feel so bad that the security agencies couldn’t do anything and that was why they came to my place and burnt my car and killed our people. They killed up to 18 of us. We feel very sad.”