Dave Umahi, Ebonyi State Governor
Reactions, Tuesday, trailed the pardon granted 31 suspects alleged to have committed murder during the Ezza/Ezza-Effium communal crisis in Ebonyi State.
The pardon was granted by Governor David Umahi while swearing in a new judge of the Customary Court of Appeal, Justice Paul Awada.
The suspects were hitherto detained at the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Centre in the state. The governor said they were underaged.
According to him, the decision was reached by the state Executive Council.
In his words, “These underaged detainees were recruited by stakeholders of the area and armed with sophisticated weapons, such as AK-47 rifles. I did not hesitate to order for their detention in January, but they have shown good conduct since then.”
He said the swearing-in of the new judge was delayed because he originated from the crisis-prone community, which had lost many indigenes and property due to the conflict.
According to him, “We would be attracting God’s wrath if he was sworn in then, but we can do so now as normalcy has returned to the area.
“The two protagonists whose interests sparked the war – the local government area chairman and the House of Assembly member representing the area — have also been granted bail.”
However, a stakeholder in the community, Mathias Nwaiboko, said the action of the governor showed that he was insensitive to the plight of the bereaved families.
Another commentator, Aja Aja, said the governor’s action was for political gains.
According to him, “It is bad because those released are responsible for the murder of some of the deceased. They attacked with AK47, killing and destroying property.”
He regretted that since their arrest by the military and the subsequent handover to the police, they had not been convicted.