By Esther Nworie
Elugwu Ettam Community in Okpuitumo Ikwo Local Government Area of Ebonyi state on Saturday banished one Mr. Celestine Okah from the community on the allegation that he has hands in the missing of people in their community.
The community also reportedly set ablaze his house and the house of a palm wine tapper, whose name was given as Kenneth Nwankwo for collaborating with him in doing the evil.
It was alleged that each time Celestine visits home, somebody will be declared missing.
Citizens’ Advocate had in its subsequent publications reported on missing of persons in the Elugwu Ettam which had made the people to petition the IGP to order full investigation into the mayhem in their community.
The accused, Celestine Okah is the husband of Ebonyi state Commissioner for Housing and Urban Development, Wendy Uchechi Okah.
It was gathered that while all fingers were pointing at him as the perpetrator of the act, Mr. Okah denied all the allegations.
But his defense did not stop the village head from inviting him and ordered him to swear an oath to prove his innocence in line with the customs and traditions of the community.
It was alleged that Mr. Okah refused to swear to the oath to prove his innocence from all the allegations.
He rather alerted the Police to come to his rescue.
It was his distress call to the Police that angered the youths around who pounced on him before moving to the compound where they allegedly vandalized and set his property on fire.
After that, the youths proceeded to burn the palm wine tapper’s house as he was very close to Celestine and named one of his child after Uchechi the wife.
However, police mobilized to the community and rescued the suspect from the irate youths.
When contacted on phone, Mrs. Uchechi Wendy Okah refused to react on the issue.
“I don’t want to make any comment for now”, said the Commissioner in an emotion laden voice.
Commissioner for Internal Security and Border Peace, Stanley Okoro Emegha on his part wondered why the community would take the laws into their hands.
He said the state government has waded into the matter with a view to amicably settling the matter.
Contacted, DSP Loveth Odah Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in the state confirmed the incident.
She said the Police was able to rescue the accused man on Saturday, that when the Police went back on Sunday with commissioner for border peace and conflict resolution Mr. Stanley Okoro Emeghia, the Community had dug a deep trench to prevent them from accessing the community.
DSP Odah explained that the border peace commissioner has waded into the matter using dialogue to bring the two parties together.
He called on leaders of the community to come up with a statement to enable police carry out proper investigation into the matter.
“He was actually abducted by the angry youths of the community and he called the police and he was immediately rescued. As I said the Deputy Commissioner of police investigation led the operation himself and he was immediately rescued, but on Sunday as the deputy commissioner of police is working more in alternative dispute, resolution, he went there to engage the community leaders to know if he can bring the two parties together but it was a surprise to him when he got there and saw a big barricade, trenches dug on the road preventing vehicle from going in.”
“The people of the community came and were on the other side telling them now it is no more the angry youths it was aged men and women that were there. The old woman who spoke to police using their local dialect said that if they had brought the man, they would have killed the man and put him inside a coffin which they have prepared.”
“The commissioner for border peace was there.”
On the dialogue to restore peace, she said, “Police will be part of the community dialogue but to avoid tension, police will not be in the frontline.
She said no arrest has been made so far.
She said, “Police didn’t make arrest but we want to investigate, we want the community leaders to come up and give us their statement. Let’s record statement from the victim and unravel what is actually causing the problem.”
“The acting commissioner of police has directed full scale investigation into the matter, when we know the problem, we should be able to settle the matter.”