OPEN LETTER TO GOVERNOR DAVID NWEZE UMAHI ON SECRET WAR AGAINST EZZA NATION AND OTHER NUMEROUS SINS AGAINST THE MOST POPULOUS CLAN
ENOUGH OF YOUR GRANDSTANDING PLEASE!
(Urgent demand for intervention and probe by the Nigerian Federal Government, International agencies & Human Rights Groups of the senseless and endless killings in Effium, Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.)
Your Excellency Sir,
I have adopted this open letter as the most appropriate way to convey my misgivings about the leadership you preside over as the Governor and Chief Security Officer of our dear Ebonyi State – a position bequeathed to you by God through the agency of the Ebonyi State electorate in 2015, which they reaffirmed for a second and final term in 2019. Since the buck stops at your table, you are the only appropriate person to receive applause when government’s performance merits it, and or condemnation when you functioned awfully as the case may be.
Let me also highlight at the onset, the important roles played by prominent Ebonyians, including those of us in the Diaspora, in the enthronement of your government, both for the first term in 2015 and for your re-election in 2019. Those of us in the diaspora were sincerely convinced that you were a man of honour and integrity, who will deliver on every word he has given to the people. But as your second term progresses, and your true character and persona begin to unravel, I became astounded by the turn of events. Slowly and steadily, I watched helplessly as your true colours appear and begin to dominate your thoughts and actions as Governor of our state. With that, I now see our Governor engaging in acts we consider not in the best interest of our people and the state. All the approaches and attempts to make you see reasons to treat Ebonyi people better have failed, albeit woefully! Why have you chosen to have a dual personality? First, an Umahi who threatens to give opposing views ‘koboko’ treatments and another whom the ‘uninformed’ outside world see and marvel at such an amazing best-in-infrastructure governor? The puzzle is that you claim to be a genuine Pentecostal believer with the spiritual ability to speak in diverse tongues!
PERSISTENT KILLINGS IN EFFIUM AND YOUR SUSPICIOUS GRANDSTANDING
The level of insecurity and growing apprehension that has hit Ebonyi State under your leadership as its Chief Security Officer is very alarming and so pathetic that our once peaceful state could almost be compared to Zamfara and other northern states held hostage by bandits and terrorists. The only different but annoying aspect is that killings in Ebonyi are barely in the news.
The journalists in the Salt of the Nation have been so cowed and threatened that they do not want to, in your words, ‘be banned for life’ or be given Koboko treatment that Charles Otu and other critics of your administration have been baptized with. If you ban the Vanguard reporter, Peter Okutu ‘for life’ for merely reporting the attack on a community in Ngbo by its Benue neighbours, how can he dare tell you the truth about the killing field that Effium in the same Ohaukwu LGA?
Clement Odah who you ordered suspended, arrested and publicly accused of not stemming the killings, is at the helm of affairs in Ohaukwu. It is puzzling that this man you once ordered arrested, from Korri extraction, is one of those trouble-shooting.
When these violent killings of hundreds of many of my unarmed and harmless Ezza indigenes started, the first impression given by your government was that it was caused by fight between two factions over who controls Effium motor-park. But investigations I personally made revealed that it was caused because a team from the National Population Commission, NPC, was misled into creating more polling units out of Ezza-dominated areas in favour of Korri. The boundary land delineation exercise by the NPC and consequently, the creation of more Polling Units in favour of Korri, to the detriment of Ezza-dominated areas, is one of the key causes of this killings.
A petition was written to the NPC to this effect, and you were duly copied but you did nothing. I hereby write to inform and remind you that the over 15, 000 natives of Ezza nation who were displaced as a result of these violence which have persisted without media reportage are still stranded in different parts of the State without any succour and or support from your administration.
Also, my diligent findings have unravelled that the desperate attempts by your government to partner with a billionaire investor to mine some mineral deposits recently discovered in the area is the actual cause of the lingering conflict in the once peaceful and sleepy community that harboured people from many parts of the South East and indeed Nigeria with the people of my Ezza clan in the majority. I have been reliably informed that the discovery of some mineral deposits such as lead, Tin, Zinc and some deposits of crude oil is the main reason the Korri natives, sponsored and believably backed by the State government, are hellbent on suppressing the rest of other dwellers in Effium and the Ezzas who have the highest population from the area. I learned that to the end of the secret deal and agreement reached between the said investor and the Ebonyi State government, the former’s companies have not only expressed its keen interest in mining these resources but have allegedly been given a ‘space’ to begin its operations in no distant time by the Governor and government of Ebonyi State after allegedly conducting a physical survey with installation of equipment said to have been perfectly hatched. It is further alleged that the sum N20m was first given to agents of Ebonyi State government as part of a ‘tip’ in the said secret deal. These allegations, I would wish you prove me wrong or right.
Whereas, there is nothing wrong with a firm expressing interest in mining a God’s given mineral deposits in any land so long as it meets the requirements of the law and a government in turn giving support for such exploration to be carried out, I am miffed by the insidiously desperate attempts by the State government and the said Companies to favour one side of Effium against the other. The said billionaire businessman should know better how the law provides for corporate institutions interested in tapping mineral resources in a land or community should best approach it to avoid misunderstanding and squabbles.
With the way things are, the multiple committees set up, the deployment of troops and His Excellency’s visits to the troubled area may not restore peace till the needful is done. Lives are still being lost, houses razed, and farmlands destroyed. Just a few days ago, scores of Ezza indigenes were lured by enemies masquerading as froends to converge on a particular spot in Nwekendiagu, with a false claim that they were going for a ‘peace-talks.’ These defenceless citizens were however brutally murdered whilecthey were waiting for the phantom meeting. A few days later, the attackers struck again, killing unarmed and innocent women, children, the youths and the elderly all of Ezza descent.
The worst recently happened when 55 out of the 66 suspects arrested by the GOC, 82 Division of the Nigerian Army and handed over to the State’s Police Command allegedly fled from custody. Your Excellency, this is a grand conspiracy that further validates the fears of our people that under your watch, the alleged plots to wipe off Ezzas in Effium and other parts of the State under your watch and leadership of our dear State.
At a time when Ezza people are at the receiving end, your government has also been wielding the big stick against some prominent Ezzas for simply coming to the rescue of their own people who are trapped inside the war-ravaged Effium because they have no other place to run to and also those stranded in other parts of State where they are putting up with friends and relatives. You even recently axed some of your aides from Ezza for not attending your meetings. A case in point is the order that a WhatsApp group created for the purposes of assisting our people overcome this tragic situation be shut down immediately and the use of the DSS to harass, intimidate and detain the member representing Ezza South Constituency, Hon. Chris Usulor for being part of the group. I am baffled that even in this period of man-made-war and great tribulation for my beloved Ezza nation, there is still find time for trivial politics to get at perceived opponents in PDP which Usulor is a major victim despite being a ranking serving lawmaker in the State’s House of Assembly.
Ezzas are not cowards. They will adopt all legal means to get their rights and dignity restored with or without your administration’s backings. If I may ask, Your Excellency, what exactly do you do with your security votes running into hundreds of millions if you cannot offer the least assistance to those displaced and suffering as a result of this Effium war?
Since you joined the APC in November 2019, your attention has shifted to national politics and in your desperation to satisfy those who promised you Nigeria’s top job (which you know right deep inside of you is only in audio form), you prefer to continue to waste our scarce resources on the Northern oligarchs and the so-called kingmakers around the Presidency, pretending to show false loyalty to them and ‘connecting Ebonyi to the centre’.
All these are because of your pursuit of shadows in the guise of ambition and seeking ‘justice’ for the truly marginalized South East region! Your new-found love – the APC – is also an accomplice in all the happenings in Ebonyi because the Muhammadu Buhari-led government has remained silent on the many petitions made against your government before various agencies since you joined the Party. From petitions made to the EFCC since 2018 to the most recent ones in 2021, the Buhari government, severally flounting its anti-corruption achievements, has failed to see the monumental corruption going on in our state. They should be better informed that my people shall be left with no option than to seek legal redress in a court of competent jurisdiction to bring to book those behind the happenings in Ebonyi State. Such may include dragging them before the International Criminal Court, ICC to answer for war crimes against my people and humanity in general.
You recently declared a dusk to dawn curfew in Effium. Whereas this should have been commendable, but our people are afraid that the order may be another smokescreen that may give the aggressors an opportunity to eventually finish off Ezza remnants in Effium. Our people will have no option left than to drag you to the ICC and any other international platform that may help them get justice for the innocent Ezza souls that have been wasted in Effium under your watch as Governor.
_*The best way to prove our fears wrong and show commitment as a leader is to first and foremost do ALL that is within your Executive powers to bring back the 55 escapees who went to maim our people but were arrested by the military.
URGENT NEED TO COMPENSATE EZZAS DISPLACED BY EBONYI AIRPORT PROJECT
It should also be put clearly on record that Ezzas are the only people in Ebonyi State forced out of their ancestral lands to pave way for the construction of a so-called International airport by the Umahi administration. People of the three affected communities; Umuoghara, Okaleru and Oriuzor all in Ezza north Local Government Area whose ancestral homes were demolished, and farmlands taken over by the government are yet to receive any reasonable compensation more than a year after the take-off of the said project. Meantime, many still consider the airport project needless and of course, one of the conduits for siphoning our resources. Sane minds have been wondering why a Civil Engineer graduate prefers the swampy location in an Ezza north farmland without any form of consultation with the stakeholders to provide for any good and uninhabited land for an airport project.
This is even more so considering the fact that the Enugu airport which was recently upgraded by the Federal Government is nearly less than an hour from the location of the proposed Ebonyi airport. This is more so when Ezza north as an LGA has many plain and uninhabited farmlands. A special investigative report published by The Cable in late October last year gave tearful insights into the pitiable and dehumanizing conditions which thousands of the affected natives have been forced to live due to the demolition of their homes without any reasonable compensation. Some of them have had no other option than to sleep in nearby farm settlements like slaves and IDPs in their own land. Yet, Your Excellency claims you love Ezzas more than your Uburu people for whom you have built massive roads and other gigantic infrastructural projects for without displacing or even distressing a single soul.
“Our people are suffering. Those of them that are above the poverty level have taken their children out of the State. Some have taken their people to Benue, Cross River, Lagos, among other States. The people who are here are people that are stranded and do not know where to go”, said one of the affected victims, Onyemachi, who reportedly spent over N10 million to recently complete his building which was demolished. Other sad and sorrowful tales of your terrible dealings with these airport victims abound but for want of space.
In spite of all these and several pleas and entreaties by Ezza and other prominent Ebonyi stakeholders on Your Excellency to see and treat these victims as humans, you have remained aloof. I hereby join other stakeholders in the Ebonyi project to request that you IMMEDIATELY listen to the cries of these affected people and duly compensate and resettle them. I so urge because the airport project, if it is genuine, should be a blessing, not a curse to my good and kind-hearted people of Ezza nation who have diligently served, supported and are still supporting your administration despite many odds and without any serious benefit.
Finally, remember that your judgment book will be opened and read by all in just a matter of over 700 days from now and you shall only be judged, not truly by the number of flyovers or concrete roads you built for our people but more by your response and compassionate disposition to them in periods of crisis such as these!
MY PASSIONATE PLEA
Having enumerated all above, I hereby still solemnly request that you prove our fears wrong by using your good office to, apart from your personal intervention and those of your government, attract the attention of other national and international intervention agencies such as NEMA, the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and the Red Cross to come to the aid of our people who are in severe crisis occasioned by this communal war and the airport project.
Thanks for your time and kind attention, please!
With love, I remain sincerely yours,
Ambassador Paschal Oluchukwu
(A concerned citizen of Ebonyi State in the Diaspora and the President Worldwide, Association of Ebonyi State Indigenes in the Diaspora, AESID.)
League of Ezza Ezekuna Professionals
The Presidency, Federal Republic of Nigeria
The National Assembly
The Inspector General of Police
The Director, Department of State security
The Director, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps
The National Human Rights Commission
The International Criminal Court, Hague
The United Nations