Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi on Tuesday suspended the Chairmen of Ikwo and Abakaliki Local Government Areas over the resurgence of communal crisis in the areas last week.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the affected chairmen included: Emmanuel Nwangele of Abakaliki and Chief John Nnabo of Ikwo LGA.
Dr Hyginus Nwokwu, Secretary to the State Government, told newsmen after the governor’s meeting with stakeholders of both councils, that the suspension was with immediate effect.
Nwokwu said: “The governor is not happy that both chairmen did not demonstrate capacity to ensure security in both councils which they are constitutionally bound to protect.
“The governor also suspended all political office holders from communities in both councils—Enyibichiri, Noyo Echilaike from Ikwo and Edda, Enyigba communities from Abakaliki LGA.
“The suspension will lapse only when lasting peace returns to the areas as the suspended chairmen are directed to handover to their vice chairmen.”
Nwokwu added that civil servants from both councils who directly or indirectly financed the perpetrators of the clashes were also suspended.
He said: “This will ensure that they are financially incapacitated to sponsor such aggressions as the sanctity of live supersedes all political considerations.”
He disclosed that the governor also directed stakeholders from Abakaliki LGA to unearth the hoodlums who killed and set fire on a bus conveying Ikwo indigenes along the Alex Ekwueme Federal Univeristy, Ndufu Alike Ikwo road, within one week.
He said: “These people were unfortunately burnt beyond recognition and they involved six members of the same family including a three-month old baby.
“The government will be forced to hunt the perpetrators if the stakeholders fail to produce them within such period and the situation will not be palatable to anybody.
“The government hereby assures the citizens especially indigenes of the affected communities, students and staff of FUNAI, that security agencies have been mandated to provide adequate security in the areas.”
In his comments, Dr Kenneth Ugbala, the Commissioner for Border, Peace and Internal Security disclosed that 33 political appointees were suspended in Ikwo LGA and 18 in Abakaliki LGA.
Ugbala said: “The governor suspended the chairmen because they failed in their constitutional duty of protecting the people, so the issue of whether he has the constitutional right to do so does not arise.
“The councilors who are also elected were also suspended and we should realise that only the living can talk.”
Umahi in his earlier remark before the meeting, threatened to suspend the chairmen of Ohaukwu LGA of the state for failing to ensure the people’s security in the wake of its land dispute with the people of Agila in Benue.
He also bemoaned the spate of attacks which led to several deaths within a fortnight at Ikwo, Abakaliki, Amasiri community of Afikpo North LGA and Onicha Igboeze in Onicha LGA of Ebonyi.