The Ebonyi State Elders Council has condemned in totality the alleged gruesome murder of their Secretary, Chief (Barrister) Geoffrey Mgbada, by purported illegal Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIO) in the early hours of Tuesday, 14th May 2019 at Ezza road .
In a statement issued after their emergency meeting in Abakaliki signed by the Chairman of the Council, Amb. Frank Nchita Ogbuewu, and made available to newsmen, they noted that late Barrister Mgbada discharged his duties very effectively, diligently and had served the state in various capacities.
The elders urged the state Police Command to fish out and bring to book the perpetrators of the crime in the interest of peace in the state and commended the state Governor, Chief David Umahi for his action in condemning the crime and ordering for quick and in-depth investigation into the matter.
The Elders also appealed to blood relatives of the deceased and entire Ebonyians to remain calm as the law takes its course.
It was said that young men suspected to be Ebonyi state Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIO) beat to death the legal practitioner, Chief (Barrister) Geoffrey Mgbada, former Vice Chairman of Ohaukwu LGA over his resistance from having his car’s number plate removed at PRESCO junction in Abakaliki.
Addressing newsmen on the issue, Mr. Solomon Umoke, kinsman of the deceased said that the problem emanated following the officers’ action who after flagging down the man, then wanted to remove the registration number of his vehicle over reasons best known to them.
He told Citizens’ Advocate that while the men were on “their illegal duty”, in the process the deceased had courteously introduced himself to the people but the assailants in their usual mode of operation believed to be characterized with incivility and arrogance instead of them to treat him with respect in spite of his pleasant approach and explanation, they went further to remove the plate.
He added that the late Mgbada, having seen the seriousness of the men towards his vehicle then disembarked and posed a mild resistance on the officers, completely unaware of what the devil had in stock and along the line, he was kicked down by one of the men, and as a result gave up the ghost.
A resident of the area, Mr. Gabriel Ukpaka, in his version told our reporter that the incident which later claimed life began as a melo-drama following the deceased’s decision in obstructing them from removing his plate numbers, but the officers in their quest to have access to the plate then clubbed the victim who then collapsed and died.
A relative of the victim whose name was not given expressed displeasure on how life of their stakeholder and pioneer Secretary of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Ebonyi State was unwholesomely terminated by the people whom he described as touts.
He lamented that Effium people have been subjected to a calamity of much magnitude, citing a similar case of how another indigene of the area, Pharmacist Monday Ukwa was allegedly murdered by some persons too.
Commissioner for Works, Engr. Fidelis Nweze while addressing protesters who were said to have gathered instantaneously pertaining to the incident appealed that they should calm down, promising to partner with them in ensuring that justice is obtained.
He said, “My appeal is that you should calm down since protestation cannot reverse the situation, I am on top of the matter and also assuring that it will be handled to the best of my strength.”
Commissioner of Police (CP), Tony Olofu advised that the matter should be approached with every sense of maturity so that their action would not be hijacked by miscreants while assuring that the best would come out of the problem.
Meanwhile, first Son of the deceased elder statesman, Mgbada Prosper Chijioke second year student of English and Linguistics Department, Ebonyi State University has also called for the prosecution of the alleged murderers of his father.
Speaking with newsmen at the Accident and Emergency Ward of Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki where the elder statesman was confirmed dead, he called for the ban of VIO as a department in the State’s Ministry of Works and Transport.
He spoke thus: “I want the state government to ban VIO from this state forever. As a matter of fact, VIO is not an appointment, it is an agbero work. Please let them be banned forever in this state. They should go back to where they came from. They have caused more harm than good. This is my appeal to the state governor, Chief David Umahi. Please ban VIO in Ebonyi state.
“This morning as I was preparing to go back to school, my mum came in crying that my dad fainted due to attack by VIO official and he was at FETHA 2 but as I got here I saw a different thing. I am no longer myself. Please ban VIO and the person that did this thing should be sentenced to life imprisonment!
The victim who is coincidentally the Secretary, Elder’s Council of Divine Mandate Campaign Organization of the state incumbent Governor, Chief David Umahi and board member Abakaliki Capital Territory was said to have been killed by three officers on duty between Presco Junction and Women Development Centre, as he was on his way to bank alongside the wife to withdraw money to settle their children about to go back to school.
We gathered that in the course of the fracas which ensued among them during the inspection, one of the officers pushed him down, causing him to hit his head on the concrete pavement of the road and she died instantly.
During an interview with the Police Public Relation Officer, DSP Loveth Odah, at the hospital she confirmed the incident thus: “Early this morning as I was leaving the radio house back to my office after my programme, I got a call from FETHA PRO telling me about the incident of a man allegedly killed by VIO men and it is attracting so much crowd to the hospital.
“Here in the hospital, to my greatest surprise, he is not just any man, but a highly placed man in the state.
“Speaking with the widowed woman before she was taken away, she said it was the VIO men, she said they were flagged down and they stopped and instead of them to check the vehicle, one of them pushed her husband down and unfortunately he hit his head on the concrete pavement behind them.”
“The police have arrested two of the VIO officials. They are in detention already undergoing interrogation. Before today, there have been series of report that VIO officials are not being civil in their duties as should. Their excesses are too much.