Ike Nnachi, Abakaliki
Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) in Ebonyi State, has raised the alarm over alleged human right abuses in the state.
The groups alleged that the state was one of the few states of the federation that has witnessed the highest cases of serial abuses of human rights, authoritarian dictatorship and downright disregard for human dignity perpetrated virtually in most cases by the government in power.
The Leaders, Oko Sampson Nweke of Human Right Defenders; Chinedum Enekwachi of Coalition of United Political Parties; and Monday Eze of Ebonyi First Vanguard; made the accusations in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State.
They noted with dismay the rising cases of killings, abductions, intimidation, harassments and flagrant suppression of the rights of Ebonyi citizens especially those in opposition political parties.
They said: “among several others, most recent cases in point are the recent gruesome murder of HRH Ezeogo Christopher Igboke Ewa in his Umuezeokoha palace by unknown assailants;
“The ongoing persecution of Professor Benard Odoh, the APGA gubernatorial candidate for the 2023 elections by the State government. The harassment and intimidation of Mark Onu (a.k.a Chopper) who recently resigned his appointment as Senior Special Assistant to the governor and defected to the PDP;
“The abduction the youth leader of PDP in Nkomoro ward Ezza North LGA, Mr. Nwokpoku Sunday on the 7th March 2023; The attack on Dr Sunday Adol Awam, the NNPP gubernatorial candidate in Ebonyi State.”
They condemned the murder of HRH Ezeogo Igboke Ewa and charged the Police and other relevant security agencies to explore all avenues for proper and diligent investigation so as to bring his killers to book.
They wondered why the State Commissioner of Police, Faleye Olaleye and authorities of the Nigerian Police Force cannot obey a Court order restraining it from arresting, harassing or detaining the APGA Governorship candidate, Professor Benard Odoh, despite evidences of service on them.
They condemned the withdrawal of his security detail, describing it as a deliberate attempt to expose him to the risk of being killed by his attackers who have attempted to assassinate him about seven times since last year.
“We therefore call on the Inspector General of Police to without delay order the State’s Commissioner of Police to restore the Policemen attached to Professor Odoh and ensure that its men and officers act within the ambit of the law so as not to inflame the already tensed political atmosphere in our dear Ebonyi State.
“Similarly, we have realised that ‘unknown’ soldiers have strangely taken over major roads in Onueke, Ezza South LGA of Ebonyi State and other opponents’ strongholds and they have been reports of serious harassments and intimidations of citizens using the roads in the build-up to the now postponed Governorship and State’s Houses of Assembly elections.
“We request the Chief of Army Staff to immediately investigate the identities and activities of these ‘unknown’ officers who appear to be working for the interest of the ruling APC in Ebonyi State against the opposition and possibly withdraw, arrest or dismiss them. The attempt to militarise Ebonyi in this period of election stands highly condemned by us,” they added.
However, the Media Aide to Governor David Umahi, Chooks Oko, dismissed the groups’ statement.
He said the Leaders of the groups lack credibility as they are politicians from opposition political parties in the State.
“It is clear from the wordings of the so-called press statement that these are members of APGA and other opposition parties masquerading as a human rights group.”
“All the allegations are laughable as it is clear that attention diversion is the sole intent,” he said.
Mr Oko further noted that the state is still in deep shock over the death of Ezeogo Igboke Ewa and the governor had directed the security agencies to leave no stone unturned in fishing out his killers.
He advised that the police should be allowed to do their job.
“It is unfortunate that any Ebonyian could throw aspersions on Governor Umahi’s direction without remembering all the countless selfless sacrifices he has made, and still making for the betterment of all.”
“The referred cases have no direct bearing on the governor as he is very committed to upholding the rule of law and safe guarding the lives and property of all Ebonyians,” Mr Oko added.