Udora Orizu in Abuja
The House of Representatives yesterday lamented the involvement of officials of a security outfit, Ebubeagu, in the reported extra-judicial killings in various local government areas of Ebonyi State.
Violent protest had erupted recently in a community in the state over the alleged torture and killing of a man, Nnaogo Akpoke Anyim, on January 18 by members of the security outfit.
Speaking recently, the state Governor, David Umahi, said the security outfit would not be disbanded, as it was set up by the state government to complement the job of the police and other security agencies in checking the rising crime rates in the state.
However, at the plenary yesterday, members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the state, Hon. Iduma Igariwey, Hon. Ogbaga Sylvester, Hon. Chukwuma Nwazunku, Hon. Edwin Anayo and Hon. Makwe Livinus, while moving a motion of urgent public importance, lamented that if the activities of Ebubeagu is left unchecked, it will lead to massive loss of lives and proliferation of weapons in the state.
Moving the motion titled: ‘Urgent Need to Stop the Deteriorating Security Situation in Ebonyi State’, on behalf of the caucus, Igariwey noted that in Ebonyi State, the security situation appears to have taken a turn for the worse with the introduction of an armed militia called Ebubeagu by the state government.
He said members of the militia are armed with AK-47, pump action guns, axes and machetes and other dangerous weapons without any professional training.
When the Speaker of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, sought to know if the group was really introduced by the state government, Igariwey stated that the group was set up by the state, stressing that the members of the armed militia sometimes wear masks to cover their faces, mount road blocks in various parts of the states creating fear in the minds of citizens who often mistakes them for armed robbers.
He expressed concerns that members of Ebubeagu have no known rules of engagement, and have become willing tools for all sorts of nefarious activities, ranging from illegal arrests, assaults, torture and assassinations.
The PDP lawmaker further expressed concerns that it was learnt that the group has detention facilities where victims are kept and tortured.
Making reference to a former House member, Hon. Linus Okorie, who was recently declared wanted by the state government over his comment on social media, Igariwey alleged that the group has been hunting and probably harmed the former lawmaker.
He added that Ebubeagu activities are gravely interfering with and jeopardising operational activities of the regular security agencies such as the Nigerian police and Civil Defence Corps.
He said: “Specifically, two days ago, this same group has been hunting and probably harmed a former member of this House, Hon. Linus Okorie, even when he has not committed any offence. He has been declared wanted and he’s hiding from one place to another. In the past few weeks, innocent citizens have been attacked and some killed in cold blood by the Ebubeagu militia such as the recent killing of Nnaogo Akpoke Ani in Akaeze LGA; Ele Ama and Eric Ukpai from Afikpo North LGA, and Phillips Nwaorogbo, who was shot by Ebubeagu members and later had his limbs amputated, and others assaulted, dehumanised and tortured.
“Worried that unless urgent steps are taken by federal authorities, there might be complete breakdown of law and order in Ebonyi State as armed Ebubeagu members continue their reign of terror on the citizens while individuals, communities prepare to defend themselves in reprisal.”
Adopting the motion, the House urged the Inspector General of Police (IG), Usman Alkali Baba, to investigate all the reported attacks and killings in Ebonyi State by the security outfit.
The House also urged the Office of National Security Adviser (NSA) to investigate the status of the authorisation of various weapons such as pump action guns, AK-47 rifles and other automatic weapons which are freely used by the group in the state.
Gbajabiamila, thereafter, directed the Clerk to the House, Ben Akubueze, to make sure the IG is notified of the resolution immediately.