Following the melodrama that unfolded in Onicha Local Government Area of Ebonyi State last Friday night between the convoy of David Umahi and mourners who had staged a night-wake for a burial rite, the state Governor, Engr. David Umahi has banned night wake in the state.
He said should anyone organize a night wake beyond 10 pm and other ceremonies beyond 10 pm across the State, such person should take a written agreement between him and chairman of such local government so that if anything happens, the duo will be held responsible.
The mourners allegedly blocked the convoy of the Governor along Onicha Isu road on his way to Abakaliki from Uburu his home town.
It was gathered that the Governor had earlier attended the night wake of the elder brother to the vice Chancellor of Ebonyi State university Prof. Chigozie Ogbu before proceeding to Uburu during which he inspected some projects.
On his way back to Abakaliki, the mourners blocked his way and while security men were making effort to clear the road, one of the soldiers attached to his convoy lost his gun in their hands.
Governor Umahi however on Saturday while in a function at the Exco chamber ordered the immediate arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment of all those involved in the recent roadblock against his convoy.
The Governor described the development, as a criminal breach of the law.
He alleged that the suspect made away with a gun belonging to an Army Officer and expressed worry over what they could have done if it had been an ordinary victim that encountered them.
“It is very good that they have found the gun and they said that they didn’t block my convoy in Onicha, the soldiers even came out pleading with them to unblock the road and they refused, they were on wake and drank to stupor, they said they didn’t recognize the soldiers, so it was in the process that the soldiers moved and their gun fell down and they didn’t know, nobody fought with them.”
“Why I came hard on them was that if you were drunk and you didn’t recognize the soldiers, what if it was an ordinary person, what would have happened to them. That was 12 midnight when we were going towards Oshiri.”
“Yesterday night, I was coming back by 12 midnight. Of course I had to stop over at the College to inspect projects, but when we got to Onicha, they blocked the road.”
“Even with the Army and the Police and everything, they did not even want to open the road. Then I said they should arrest all of them, but most of them ran away. I think they even took a gun of an Army Officer.”
“So the Chairman of the Local Government, the House of Assembly members and coordinators, they are working very hard and the SSA on Security: they are all there to sort it out. But I say, all of them will go to prison. So they have to identify them, bring them here and we will prosecute them to show example.”
“And I want it to be announced that henceforth, no-wake keep should go pass 10 pm. If you must pass 10 pm, take written permission from the Chairman of the Local Government, and both the chairman and the person that requested will be held responsible if any problem occurs. This should be widely circulated and properly announced.”
“My problem is not that they blocked the Governor, but my worry is supposing that it was a smaller person that was passing, who had no Army and Police, they would have robbed the person. That’s what it means.”
“Any other time, the ADC should order for a shoot. It is against the law to block the Governor, and if anyone should be killed in the process, it is in accordance with the law.”
Meanwhile, noticeable fear was said to have forced some residents of Onicha Clan to be on their heels following the heavy presence of fully armed security personnel who are searching for some boys suspected to be indigenes of the area who allegedly snatched a gun from a soldier in Onicha LGA.
A resident of the area who pleaded anonymity told Citizens’ Advocate that the problem began on Friday night 4th October, 2019, during the wake of late Mr. John Ogbu, the immediate elder brother of Professor Chigozie Ogbu at Ufueze Umuocha village in Umudomi Ward.
He said that at the function during the sharing of pepper soup, one man, a known strong man of the area, one Mr. Emeka Eddy was beaten mercilessly by a group of persons whom he described as “Hard boys” under the leadership of a young man identified as Nwamputu from Enuagu ward.
He said that based on the unpleasant development experienced at the place, some Umudomi boys who felt intimidated and were not comfortable with the unjustifiable attack meted out on their brother grouped themselves and agreed to go for a reprisal attack.
He told our reporter that Nwamputu and his group was unaware of the plan to be attacked, left late John’s compound to encounter their opponent at Afor Udo Market axis where serious fracas ensued.
According to our source, it was not quite long when the groups engaged each other in the fight that the State governor, Engr. David Umahi and his convoy ran into the scene.
He added that when Governor Umahi sighted them, he came down from his vehicle and addressed them in a brotherly manner, they moved backward and picked the gun which inadvertently fell down from a soldier’s hand as he was hurrying to jump into one of their Hilux vans.
He added that before the officer could draw the attention of the vehicle’s driver over the incident, a member of Enuagu group fondly called “Fear not” had already grabbed the weapon and ran away.
The situation according to him resulted in a bigger problem as a great number of soldiers whom he said are hell bent on recovering their arm, stormed the community in early hours of the following day and started arresting every resident on sight.
He further said many innocent people had been injured, molested and taken to army barracks, some of the suspects of whom are Nwamputu, Fear not, One leg and others had been apprehended.
Another resident who did not mention his name told us that Ebonyi State House of Assembly member, representing Onicha West Constituency, Hon Chukwuma Igwe was embarrassed by the soldiers on the accusation that Nwamputu and his group do associate with the lawmaker.
He also claimed that the cause of the crisis was not unconnected with unnecessary rivalry commonly found in cult related issues, adding that the quantity of empty bottles used in the fight was capable of establishing a small scale brewery, if they were not destroyed.
We gathered that as at the time of filing this report, the riffle has been found, yet for fear of encountering other unpredictable actions of the soldiers who were already irked about the missing rifle, many people fled their homes leaving aged men and women behind.
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