Ezza-Ezillo, Counsel Petitions Presidency
BY PASCAL JOSEPH
Barrister Uche Durueke, Counsel to Ezza-Ezillo Community of Ebonyi State has petitioned the presidency over the current plight of the Ezza-Ezillo people. In the petition entitled “Urgent Call To Save The People Of Ezza-Ezillo From The Hands Of Ebonyi State Government And The Police Force,” the Counsel noted that the Presidency is aware of the conflict between the Ezza and their Ezillo neighbours because, according to the Counsel, his Law Firm caused a letter early this year on behalf of the Ezza-Ezillo people in Diaspora to the Ebonyi state Government restating their commitment to peace and making concrete proposals on realizing sustainable peace in the area.
According to Durueke, Ezza-Ezillo people have in the past made several appeals to the Office of the President and the National Assembly to step into the matter, which, he alleges, has taken a discriminatory and homicidal nature. “While the Ebonyi State Government is using its position to deal ruthlessly with our clients (Ezza-Ezillo people), it also carries the propaganda against our clients that they are fighting a war,” he noted.
He continued” The truth is that the Ezillo people and our clients are in a violent communal conflict. It is bad faith to accuse our clients .We have repeatedly pointed out that the disdain and the jaundiced view of our client's case by the Ebonyi State Government is political .The State Government is aggressive against our clients to satisfy and please the political bigwigs from Ezillo who occupy prominent positions in Government and/or are influential in the Government,” the petition declared.
Also, in a similar petition to the Inspector-General of Police entitled” Demolition of Houses, Cultural Heritage and Economic Trees of Ezza-Ezillo People and Violations of the Fundamental Rights of Ezza-Ezillo People by the Police in Peace Keeping Operation In the Area,” the Counsel accused the police of demolition of the houses of the Ezza-Ezillo people, pulling down economic heritage such as shrine ,and economic trees and crops.
While the Counsel believes that the action is deliberate, he also noted the motives behind the action are: i) to make life miserable and for the Ezza-Ezillo people and to intimidate them out of their ancestral homes ii) and to render the suit HAB/21/2009 CHIEF PAUL OGBULE & ORS V.GOVERNOR OF EBONYI STATE & ORS pending at Ebonyi State High Court nugatory.
The Counsel, on behalf of the people of Ezza-Ezillo made the following requests: i) that the Nigeria Police Force be directed to be neutral in discharging its peace keeping duties in the area and to respect the human rights of the persons.ii)that the demolition of houses, cultural heritage, economic trees and crops of Ezza-Ezillo people should cease forthwith.iii) that a facilitated peace making mechanism by experts from outside Ebonyi State be put in place by the Federal Government to broker peace between the parties.iv) that the Ebonyi State Government should provide for the aged, persons with disabilities, women and children who are affected by the communal conflict, amongst other requests.
Outside the petition by the Counsel to Ezza-Ezillo, the people of the Community are also alleging that the State government is not mounting a hunt on their citizens through the Police, where a ransom of N300, 000 has been promised to any person who volunteers useful information to the arrest of any Ezza-Ezillo citizen and a permanent job of N20, 000 a month. The cases noted are that of two persons arrested at 9 th Mile along Enugu-Onitsha Express way; over 40 persons arraigned and remanded in prison custody; over 70 in detention; 8 picked on their way to the State Capital, Abakiliki; and 28 charged to the Federal High Court, Abuja.