The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, has accused the Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi of using “armed thugs in collaboration with the state’s police command to harass, arbitrarily arrest and illegally detain members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and other opposition platforms in the state.”
In a statement issued on Sunday, January 16, 2022, by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, and the National Director of Media, Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA alleged that the state government, in collaboration with some security agents, are using the newly-established civilian vigilante to harass Governor Umahi’s political rivals.
According to the rights group, police officers in the state, rather than display professionalism and neutrality and enforce the rule of law, are allegedly siding the government and has “effectively become the official attack dogs used by the state government to legitimize the violence unleashed on members of PDP”.
HURIWA further said that there have been disturbing allegations of physical violence that are politically motivated which were unleashed on members of opposition parties by the vigilante group, EbubeAgu with the aim of silencing the governor’s political rivals.
The group asked the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, to exhibit leadership quality by activating internal mechanisms to investigate the growing numbers of cases of violence on PDP members and some media practitioners who are allegedly attacked for their independent opinions regarding Umahi’s government.
According to HURIWA, “On the 9th of January 2022, Mr Nwoba Chika Nwoba the State Publicity Secretary of PDP was travelling in a car along Abakaliki – Enugu Expressway alongside Barr. Ifeanyi Emmanuel Nworie, when a Sienna bus without registration number overtook their car and blocked them and a gang led allegedly by one Mr Felix Okerini, alias “Jango” and Mr Ikechukwu Eze alias “Power” allegedly surrounded them, shooting sporadically in the air.
“It was alleged that the armed thugs then pulled out Mr Nwoba from the car, beat him to a pulp, and threw him into the boot of their Sienna. Amidst the beating, shooting, and pandemonium with heavy traffic buildup, Mr Nworie was able to contact a nearby police patrol team which came to the scene and moved both the attackers and victims to the State Police Headquarters in Abakaliki.
“To everybody’s utter bewilderment, the attackers were freed almost immediately while the injured victims were detained by the police officers.
“Also, On December 29, in 2021, an armed gang invaded the venue of a reception organized in honour of the newly elected State Chairman of the PDP by his community at Okposi in Ohaozora Local Government Area and started shooting sporadically into the air as residents ran for their dear lives.
“The gang, according to reports, completely destroyed both chairs and canopies set up for the event and drove away unchallenged by the policemen who were invited to provide security for the occasion.
“Similarly, on December 26, 2021, another gang trailed one Mr Felix Nworogbo of Amagu community in Abakaliki Local Government Area to the outskirts of the town; shot him on the leg and hand and dumped him in a gutter just as on January 1, 2022. Mr Onyema Ugwu and Nwali Chimaobi, ward officers of PDP in Ezza South LGA were abducted by yet another gang, tortured in their Ebubeagu den.”
The rights group called for the immediate release of Mr. Chika Nwoba, the State Publicity Secretary of the PDP, who is currently in the custody of the police command for more than 48 hours of his “abduction by an armed gang” called vigilante and detention by police.