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Ebonyi killing: Council boss condemns NHRC report; ... Exonerates Taskforce

By Mbam Ogodo, Abakaliki
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The Chairman of Afikpo South local government in Ebonyi state, Mr Eni Uduma Chima has debunked the misconception following the report of National Human Right Commission which credited the extra judicial killing in Afikpo South on 27th of March to the state Anti covid 19 taskforce in the area.

The Chairman described the report as incorrect and injurious to the corporate image of Ebonyi state in general and Afikpo South in particular and has portrayed the taskforce in bad light.

In a statement signed and issued by the Chairman, he said that the misconception from the Commission may have risen as a result of her deliberately mischievous source of information or lack of independent fact finding verification or that her confirmation of information was overtaken before heading to the press.

Mr Chima exonerated the Ebonyi state Anti - Covid 19 Taskforce in Afikpo North and Ekoli Edda youths from the extra judicial killing.

He maintained that the task force did not kill, did not witness the killing of anybody on 27th of March 2020 adding that the said killing has nothing to do with the enforcement of cvid - 19 precautionary measures, rules and guidelines.

"The gospel truth is that the Ebonyi State Anti-Covid 19 Taskforce in Afikpo South, Ekoli-Edda Youths or persons from Ekoli-Edda Autonomous community are not parties to the killing in question.

"Admitted that the Anti-Covid 19 Taskforce was earlier confronted by people who were holding a reception at Nguzu-Edda on that fateful day when they tried to ensure compliance with the Ebonyi State Anti-Covid 19 Measures ,it has no hand in the killing which occurred much later in the evening.

"The Taskforce did not kill, did not witness the killing and was not present during the killing of anybody on 27th March, 2020 and the said killing has nothing to do with the enforcement of COVID-19 precautionary measures, rules and guidelines.

"The National Human Rights Commission's report linking the killing to the Anti-Covid 19 Taskforce or enforcement of social distancing or ban on large gathering guidelines is erroneous.

The Council boss also condemned in its entirety the reaction of Ebonyi state Commissioner for information, Mr Uchenna Orji who attributed the killing to the clash between youths of Ekoli and Nguzu Edda in the area.

He explained that there was no communal conflict between youths from the communities of Ekoli and Nguzu and that the claims of the Commissioner never took place.

"The Honourable Commissioner for Information and State Orientation was not correct when he submitted that there was 'Communal Youth Conflict among youths from Nguzu Edda and Ekoli Edda communities over curtailment of several burials they had scheduled within the area.'

"There was no communal conflict between youths from the two sister communities of Ekoli-Edda and Nguzu-Edda on 27th March, 2020.

" The 'violent clash of the youths (which) eventually resulted to the death of one person ', reported by the Honourable Commissioner did not take place.'

"The killing of 27th March, 2020 has no correlation and connection with any member of the (Ebonyi) State COVID-19 Taskforce in Afikpo South L.G.A..

" All I am adding is that neither has the killing any correlation and connection with curtailment of burials, Ekoli Edda youths, communal youths conflict nor violent clash of the youths as he posited.

Mr Chima explained that it was the army that actually shot the deceased following a gun battle between the army and suspected armed robbers who blocked the and molesting computers along Ekoli/Nguzu road.

He said that luck ran out on the armed robbers when they robbed and maimed a Civil Defence officer who quickly contacted a detachment of soldiers in a nearby checkpoint which made the soldiers go after the suspected robbers and in the process one of the hoodlums died.

"What actually happened was that suspected robbers armed with rifles and machetes mounted roadblocks along Nguzu/Ekoli-Edda Road on 27th March, 2020; molesting, maiming and robbing commuters on vehicles and motorcycles to Ekoli-Edda.

" The luck of the suspected armed robbers ran out when they robbed and maimed a Civil Defence Officer, who contacted a detachment of soldiers in a nearby military checkpoint.

"The Soldiers went after the suspected armed robbers, who in a chilvaric display of drunken bravado unleashed volley of gunshots on them. The brave Soldiers wasted no time in returning fire for fire, killing one of the suspected armed robbers in the shoot-out and overwhelming the rest with superior fire power.

"I am saying this for the umpteenth time; the soldiers who killed a suspected armed robber along Nguzu/Ekoli-Edda Road on 27th March, 2020 have volunteered written Statements to both the Police and to the Military Authorities at Nkwagu Military Cantonment, Abakaliki", the Chairman concluded.