…Umahi Ready To Sign Death Warrant Of Perpetrators
By By Ruth Oginyi, Agnes Nworie, Okereke Wilson Ogbonnaya and Nwogha Ndubuisi Andy
Conflict that is not unconnected with cult clash between secret cult confraternities known as Black Axe and Dee Gbam on Sunday evening 3rd May, 2020 had allegedly resulted to the death of Mr. Onu Chima Ukpai 26 years old at Owutu Edda Community in Afikpo South LGA of Ebonyi State.
Our reporter who visited the area was told by a stakeholder, Mr. Ignatus Okoro that on the fateful day the problem burst between the two rival groups over a situation believed to be struggle for supremacy.
He said that before the incidence, there was peace in the area until the sorrowful evening around 9:00pm when a suspected member of Black Axe, Mr. John Ibiam popularly known as “John Shine my shoe” led other persons who jointly attacked the victim and shot him dead instantly.
According to him, while the police officers from Anti-Kidnapping squad, Ebonyi State Command were raiding the suspected hide-outs of the alleged killers of Mr. Chima Ukpai fondly called “Deck” surprisingly three days later, being Wednesday morning 6th May, 2020, the deceased cousin brother, Ukaegbu embarked on a revenge mission and killed one Mr. Raphael Chijioke of about 24 years old.
Afikpo South Council Chairman, Hon (Barr) Eni Uduma Chima told our reporter that for the past two weeks, there has been cult related violence until Mr. Onu Chima Ukpai was murdered, but following the effort of the security personnel, some of the suspected killers have been arrested.
“Shortly after the incident, I joined hands with the police officers to raid five hide-outs where we arrested those who were fingered in the act but unfortunately, early this morning, we woke up to discover that late Mr. Chima Ukpai’s cousin who does not belong to any group, out of annoyance went for reprisal attack and killed another man identified as Mr. Raphael Chijioke” he said.
The Council Boss further disclosed that while Mr. John Ibiam, the prime suspect over the first incident is still at large that the alleged killer of Mr. Raphael had been arrested and handed over to police for interrogation and prosecution.
He added that before now, the cultists had in several occasions attacked and injured some members of COVID 19 Taskforce and men of Neighbourhood Security Watch but as a result of his unrelenting effort that some of the suspects had been arrested while appealing to the bereaved families and other persons to rely on government for justice rather than taking law into their hands.
The State Commissioner of Police, CP Awotinde Awosola while addressing some journalists confirmed that there was cult clash between two rivalry groups at Asaga Village in Owutu Community in Afikpo South LGA through which the young man identified as “Deck” was killed.
“There was actually cult clash in the area and based on that, we have arrested the Council Chairman and Hon Chidi Ejem, Ebonyi State House of Assembly member, representing Afikpo South East over the issue.”
“”We have equally dispatched our men to the area to ensure that peace returns while we are investigating the matter.”
We gathered that the alleged killer of Mr. Chijioke did not deny being responsible for the crime rather he disclosed that his action was a revenge over the death if his relative.
Worried by the high rate of killings in Edda, Governor of Ebonyi state, Engr. David Umahi Wednesday orders Police and Department of State Security Service(DSS) in the state to carry out thorough investigation into the killings in Owutu Edda, Afikpo south local government area of the state and has declared readiness of his government to sign death warrant of perpetuators behind the murders.
The cult clash now led the police in Ebonyi State to quiz the council Chairman and lawmaker from the area.
The Governor said the killings was not acceptable and ordered security agencies to arrest whoever that was involved in the killings.
The Governor gave the directive during a road broadcast to the people of the state on coronavirus pandemic update.
He decried that that lives were being slaughtered in the local government like chickens and warned that the killings must stop, describing the killings as politically motivated act.
He said, “The killings in Afikpo South is not acceptable. If we can solve this problem once and for all, it will be good.”
“As the Governor of the state, I cannot side any big man or small man to take life. Security agents should go and do investigation and arrest whoever that is involved, get the person arrested and do proper investigation.”
“Take the people involved in the killings to court. I will sign any paper for execution, I will do it to prove a point in Afikpo South.”
“What is going on in Afikpo South is not acceptable. These lives that are being lost are not chickens. I know very well, it is political squabbles. We have it so much in Ohaukwu but God has brought it down.”
“I have ordered thorough and comprehensive investigations of the killings in Afikpo South and anybody can be arrested. This nonsense must stop! How can we continue to talk about killings in that place, it must stop! I need to be briefed on daily basis about this”.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of Afikpo South local government area, Dr. Eni Uduma Chima has decried reprisals in the killings.
He also condemned the cult activities leading to the death of one Onu Ukpai Chima (a.k.a. Deck) in Owutu Edda on 3rd May 2020.
Chima was said to have made reports to appropriate authorities in his efforts to contain the escalation of cult activities and violence in Owutu Edda and has received and forwarded reports/information of the whereabouts of most of the cultists who perpetrated that reprehensible act of 3rd May 2020.
Meanwhile, in a statement signed by the local government public relations officer, Mr. Ozuma Anderson, the Chairman of Afikpo South Local Government Council, Hon. Eni Uduma Chima, Ph.D condemned the cult activities leading to the death of one Mr. Onu Ukpai Chima (a.k.a. Deck) in Owutu Edda on 3rd day of May 2020.
“He has also made Statements/Reports to appropriate authorities in his efforts to contain the escalation of cult activities and violence in Owutu Edda. He has received and forwarded reports/information of the whereabouts of most of the cultists who perpetrated that reprehensible act of 3rd May 2020.”
“He volunteered to personally join operatives of the Anti-kidnapping (A.K.) Squad of the Nigeria Police Force in the night of 5th May 2020 alongside other Stakeholders in security, which led to the arrest of 4 suspected cultists in the morning of 6th May 2020 who are alleged to be involved in the killing of late Mr. Onu Chima Ukpai.
“He stated that it is unfortunate that after the departure of the A.K. operatives this morning by around 03:00 a.m., a person generally said to be a cousin of the late Onu Ukpai Chima whose name was given simply as Ukaegbu allegedly went on a revenge mission in one of the hideouts of the cultists which was not known to the Squad as at the time of the raid.
“He was alleged to have shot and killed one Raphael Chijioke suspected to be a member of the cult group that allegedly killed his own cousin on 3rd May 2020. The Chairman expressed regrets that despite the efforts and presence of security operatives and him between last night and early hours of this morning, Thursday, such incident could still happen.
“He revealed that the person who is said to be the cousin of the deceased Onu Ukpai Chima has been arrested by him and sent to the State Command Headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force, Abakaliki.”
“He calls on Town Union Executives of the hotspots of these cult activities and hideouts to rise to the occasion and join the law enforcement agencies in the search for the cultists who are said to have remained in Owutu and environs. He also calls on members of the community to be calm and volunteer useful information that can lead to the whereabouts of the cultists who are now on the run.
“He particularly pleaded with the family members of the deceased persons to hunt for sensitive information regarding the whereabouts of the suspected cultists and killers of their loved ones and to shun taking laws into their hands by way of revenge or reprisals.”