Over 55 suspects arrested in connection with the intra-communal war between Ezza-Effium and Effium clans in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State have escaped from custody, sources said on Saturday.
The sources said that only 11 out of the total number of 66 that escaped were rearrested.
Yet, another source said that the 11 suspects that were rearrested could not escape because they were already old and could not run.
The violence, which started on January 22, 2021 and had led to the destruction of lives and property, was said to have claimed over 500 lives.
The suspects who are said to be mainly from Jukun, Igala and other sub-ethnic nationalities were allegedly arrested by a combined team of Army and Police personnel led by the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Enugu, Maj. General Taoreen Lagbaja, who went on an on-the-spot assessment of the crisis in the war-torn community.
A security source said, “the GOC was accompanied by the Deputy Governor of Ebonyi State, Kelechi Igwe and other security chiefs when they cordoned off Okpoduma village, an Effium enclave where the militias at Uffiom were camped and arrested over 66 of them and handed them over to the Police.
“However, drama ensued when on return, the Deputy Governor and the GOC were shocked with the information of the escape of 55 suspects from police custody which threw the entire state into confusion.”
A stakeholder in Ezza speaking clan in Effium also shed light on the escape of the suspects.
She said, “A total of 66 warriors were nabbed by Ebonyi State Deputy Governor and the GOC 82 Division alongside his men at Okpoduma village and the suspects escaped along the way.
“Look at them in these pictures. These pictures have already garnered a thunderous applause for Ebonyi state government and the military. You can see that the crisis in Ebonyi State is political. The government knows what is going on. It’s the hands of Esau, the voice of Jacob.”
But while a source said 11 of the fleeing suspects were rearrested by and are currently in Police custody, another source said those rearrested could not run away because of old age.
When contacted, the Spokesperson of Ebonyi State Police Command, Loveth Obianuju Odah, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), said, “let me make calls and get back to you.”
But as at the time of this report, she had yet to get back while several efforts to reach her were not successful as her telephone line was not going through.