Afikpo killings: Allow Court try suspects, Umahi told

Abakaliki -There seems to be a new twist to the gruesome murder of four persons, which took place in Edda, Afikpo South Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, on 26th December, 2022 and 1st January, 2023.

Recall that apart from lives that were lost during the ugly episode, properties worth millions of naira were equally destroyed.

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Members of the affected communities, Thursday raised alarm over an alleged plot by some prominent individuals to release all the suspects before their trial begins in the State.

As the trial of the fifteen suspects alleged to have killed the four persons in two Edda Communities of Afikpo South Local Government Area of Ebonyi State resumes on 26th May, 2023, there is general apprehension in the two affected Communities as rumours are rift that the suspects may be released on the orders of the outgoing Governor of Ebonyi State, Engr. David Nweze Umahi.

Disclosing this in a statement, a prominent Community Leader from Ekoli Edda, Fidel Amaobi, who spoke to Vanguard said the people will not be surprised if the trial of the fifteen suspects behind the killing of the four persons was discontinued because some people are already boasting about their connections in high places.

However, the people of the area have stressed that those who had a hand in the gruesome murder of the four persons during the last Christmas and New Year festivities in Edda Clan, should be made to face trial, so that justice can be served appropriately.

Recall that three persons were murdered in cold blood in Ekoli Edda on 26th December, 2022, following the vicious attack launched on the convoy of the Ebonyi State Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Stanley Okoro Emegha as those killed in Ekoli were Essien Kalu Egwu, Emeka Oji and the Escort Commander of the APC Chairman, Inspector Festus Akpan.

The crisis, according to investigation, in Ekoli had a spillover effect in Amoso Edda on 1st January, 2023, when a 7-month pregnant woman, Mrs. Urenma Kalu Çhima was also killed in the night of the first day of the new year.

Following Police investigations, arrests were made and fifteen persons were charged to Court and remanded in custody at the Abakaliki Correctional Centre.

Among those standing trial for the gruesome murder of Mrs. Urenwa Kalu Chima are namely: Okechukwu Ogbuagu, a former Coordinator of Edda East Development Centre, Kenneth Agha Okoro (alias Mukoro), Azubuike Okorie (alias Zino), Offorkansi Chinedu and Emeka Nwafor, among others.

The suspects were charged with murder, unlawful possession of firearms, armed robbery, malicious damage and arson. 

As the resumption of Court proceedings gets nearer to the adjourned date of 26th May, 2023, there is palpable tension in the Community, following rumours that arrangements have been finalized for the suspects to be released by the outgoing Governor of the State.

Reacting to the allegations against the Governor, the former Council boss of Afikpo South LGA, Barr. Eni Uduma Chima explained that despite the powers of the Governor to pardon and release anyone from prison, he (Umahi) was not interested in releasing any suspect involved  in the December 26th, 2022 crisis that took place in Edda Community.

He described the Governor as a man of peace who has put modalities in place to ensure sustainability of law and order and peaceful coexistence among members of the affected communities.

“And in the second instance for crying out loud, the Governor of a State wields the power and authority of the State and he has the right to free anybody including the masterminds; including someone who has been pronounced guilty by the Court. 

“He has the right to forgive and arbitrarily sovereign but that’s not the case. The Governor of the State State, Engr. David Umahi is not interested in the release of anybody involved in the crisis. He has not ordered to the best of my knowledge the release of anybody involved in the crisis of Ekoli Edda of 26th December, 2022.

“I don’t know why anybody would want to mention him in the matter. The Governor has visited the community several times since that crisis and he is the person that made sure that peace, law and order came back to the community immediately. He controlled it and prevented it from escalating.

“The community people are eternally grateful to him. Anybody mentioning his name in the negative sense have come from the pit of hell to bring disrepute and make the Governor sad over the good works he has done for our people.”

On the matter affecting the former Coordinator Edda East, Mr. Okechukwu Chima Ogbuagu, Barr Eni further explained that: “Okechukwu Chima Ogbuagu should not have been charged by the Police in the first place. There was a serious mix up; omission in the first place. There was an aspect of the case that was not thoroughly investigated and I think new insights are emerging as evidence would prove me right and the proper people will be charged. Okechukwu has nothing to do with the issue. Of course, there is presumption of the innocence on his part until he is proven guilty.

“Now, let me tell those people who feel that he should have been in detention attending Court, that he did not escape from prison custody. There is presumption of innocence in his favour. He didn’t escape from the prison custody, he was granted bail by a Court of competent jurisdiction and if they have any issue with the granting of bail, they should go back to the Court and convince the Court to revoke the bail or even appeal against the decision to grant him bail. As for granting of bail, it is the discretion of the Court.

“Why are they interested in him being in detention? We are interested in the trial happening and the trial is going on and he has not jumped bail. He has been attending Court regularly and in every Court sitting, he has been there standing trial. Why do they want him out of circulation? The same reason they framed him up perhaps as we made mention to the Police, which has necessitated further investigation, that is bringing up the truth of what took place.”

Source: VANGUARD

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