By Esther Nworie
As the masses continue to condemn the public flogging of a cleric and social critic, pastor Okochi Obeni in Amasiri, Afikpo North Local Government Area of the state last week, Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi state, on Friday directed the deputy governor to set up of a 5-man committee to investigate the torture which he discribed as abuse of human right.
The 30 year old pastor was flogged with 36 strokes of cane by the Isi-oru age grade of Amasiri community for alledgly posting what they considered as slanderous against some leaders of the community including the local government chairman, Hon. Oko Enyum.
The aged grade said the pastor’s action was capable of jeopardizing existing peace in the area.
He was tied hands back, robbed with gutter dirt, doused with bad water and given 36 strokes of canes over the offence. His elder brother had to buy off 14 strokes of the canes with N9, 500 in accordance with the tradition of the community.
The 14 strokes of the cane would make it 50 strokes for anybody that goes contrary to the rules and regulations governing the community. The video has since gone viral eliciting outcries and condemnations on social media and blogs.
Consequently, the state Governor on Friday, ordered the state Deputy Governor to set-up 5-man committee to investigate the remote and immediate causes of the pastors maltreatment.
Umahi spoke at new government house, Abakaliki while signing 5 new bills into law by the state House of Assembly.
Governor Umahi said, “I have directed that a committee of 5-man should investigate the human right abuses in Afikpo North. This is very important because even if there are traditional method of settling issues that you are doing and if it is working for you, why are you videoing it and uploading it in the social media.”
“We also want to know whether it happened because some people can also frame it to destroy the system. So a committee is going to work on it to find out what actually happened.”
While briefing journalists on the outcome of the State Executive council meeting, the Secretary to the state government, Dr. Kenneth Ugbala said that the Excos have been directed to set up a 5 man committee to investigate the pastor’s flogging.
“Exco directed the Deputy Governor to set up a 5-man committee to investigate the alleged human right violation at Amasiri in Afikpo North Local Government Area with a view to unravelling the remote and the immediate causes and act of human right violation recently reported from that local government.”
“The committee is given two weeks to carry that assignment to guide the state government in taking action against that because we are concerned about the concern and rights of our people not to be violated.”
Meanwhile, the Isi-oru age grade, a security outfit of Amasiri community in Afikpo North Local Government Area of Ebonyi state while carrying out the torture has said self- seeking political elements in the local government were creating division and tension in the community using the punishment meted out against Pastor Okochi Obeni.
The age grade justified their action against the pastor and said that the matter was twisted and true reflection of what happened was manipulated by some self-seeking politicians in the area.
In a statement signed by Vice Chairman of the Isi-Oru age grade, Chief Eze Ogbonnia Eze and Secretary Unya Unya Enya, the group said Obeni was posting fake information on social media which was creating division and which they said was unhealthy to the image of the community.
“The Isi-Oru ruling council has the primary mandate of maintaining peace and orderliness in Amasiri in line with the traditional practices obtainable in our community.”
“Isi-Oru ruling council since inception operates under an atmosphere devoid of any external interference. No one dicattes to the body no matter how highly placed.”
“The punishment meted to Okochi Obeni Chukwu is not strange in Amasiri traditional setting as so many people before him has been disciplined in the way.”
“Baron Enya Ogbonnia who is also a member of Isu-Oru Amasiri was at the scene, and in appreciation to the Isi-Oru people for a good job they are doing, gave the sum of N10,000”, the statement said.