Ezza-Ezza Effium Crisis: Ebonyi govt talks tough, withdraws N100m rehabilitation fund

From Zara Nwachinemere, Abakaliki

Ebonyi state government has expressed displeasure over the refusal of Ezza-Ezza Effium communities in Ohaukwu local government area of Ebonyi state, to embrace peace despite state government’s intervention on the issue.

Commissioner for Information and state Orientation, Hon. Uchenna Orji, made the decision of the state government known on Thursday, after governor David Umahi received the report of the judicial panel set up to investigate the violent clashes in the area on August 31.

In a brief remark during the presentation of the report, Umahi, said that government would meticulously study it for full implementation of the recommendations.

However, Ezza-Ezza Effium communities have been engulfed in serious crisis, leading to wanton destruction of lives and properties worth millions of naira since January 2021.

The crisis was a fallout of a leadership tussle within the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in the area.

Ebonyi state government stepped in to make peace between the two communities thereby setting up a judicial panel to look into the remote and immediate causes of the crisis and send its report and recommendations to the state government.

“The State Executive Council in it’s meeting of 31st August, 2021, received a brief on the state of affairs in the communal dispute between Effium and EzzaEffium in Ohaukwu local Government Area and noted with displeasure that their stakeholders and youths are not truly committed to peaceful co-existence despite the interventions by government and efforts of security agencies to bring to a halt all hostilities in that community”, Orji noted.

He stated that following the refusal of both communities to make peace, the state government has withdrawn the initial N100m donated to rehabilitate helpless victims of both communities, even as it threatened to stop further execution of government infrastructural projects in the area until peace is restored.

He reiterated that: “It is noteworthy to mention that the State Government in considering the conditions of the people especially the aged and other vulnerable persons did set aside the sum of Hundred Million Naira (100,000,000,00) in the first instance to rehabilitate these helpless people both at Effium and Ezza Effium with a view to mitigating the socio- economic conditions of the people.

“Wherefore Executive Council considered that whereas the State Government has sought the opinions of Effium and Ezza Effium leaders on the project for the rehabilitation of their people, Ezza Effium agreed for the building projects for the affected persons whereas Effium natives resisted any such projects in any part of Effium; as such they have failed to agree on the project that will be mutually beneficial to Effium and Ezza Effium and whereas Government has noticed unwarranted incidents of attacks on the military and police formations assigned to restore peace and order in the afflicted community.

“Government condemns the disagreement by the stakeholders of both of Effium/Ezza Effium communities and the senseless attacks especially on the security agencies deployed to ensure the security of the people of Effium/ Ezza Effium.

“Government and other well meaning leaders of the State including Elders Council, Founding Fathers, Religious leaders and the Deputy Governor together with the members of the Panel of Inquiry on the Effium/Ezza Effium communal disturbances have done everything possible to stop this needless carnage.

“It is therefore obvious that the stakeholders and the youths are the reason for these lingering disputations. Government will continue to do everything possible to protect the lives and properties of the people of Effium/Ezza Effium.

“However, Executive Council took a decision to withdraw the said sum of N100m pending when the two groups will submit to the part of peace. Executive Council further took a decision that without prejudice to the elected public servants, no person from Effium/Ezza-Effium shall be appointed into the state public service till such a time government is convinced about their commitment to peace in their community.

“Government may consider stopping further execution of government infrastructural programmes in that community until total peace is returned.”

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