As Ezza/Ezillo Crisis Recurs
NO fewer than 52 persons have been killed in a resurgence of the Ezza/Ezillo inter-communal strife in Ebonyi State that reared its head in 2008 but was contained in 2010.
Most of those who allegedly lost their lives in the latest incidence were children under the ages of two and three years, old women and middle-aged persons, including a divisional crime officer attached to the Ezillo police station in Ishielu council area of the state.
Governor Martin Elechi, who visited the troubled scene yesterday, said only God could revenge the barbaric act.
The governor, accompanied by journalists and heavily-armed policemen, was close to tears, as he beheld the corpses mostly young persons being dropped into a Hilux jeep after they were picked up from the surrounding bushes.
Sources disclosed that Ezza people, claiming that their Ezillo brothers had started farming on their land that was deserted after the state government ordered them to relocate to another place, provoked the crisis in the early hours of Saturday. There is a subsisting court case on the festering issue.
According to eyewitness accounts, some unknown persons, armed with lethal weapons, allegedly sneaked into Ezillo at about 5:30am and using a trailer to block the highway, started shooting and setting houses and shops ablaze.
One Jacob Okoro narrated how the gunmen came into his compound with more than 30 occupants, leaving three victims in the wake of the onslaught.
Amidst tears, Thomson Okoro corroborated this account. He said his entire family was wiped out in the fresh attack, alleging that the hoodlums appeared to have been sponsored by the people of Ezza since, according to him, “only Ezillo people were targeted.”
“Look at me, I don’t know what to do. Just look at me, I have lost my entire family, including my certificates. Just look at me; where do I go from here?” he lamented.
The Guardian gathered that the Enugu-Abakaliki highway had been deserted, as motorists sought alternative routes.
Littering the usually busy inter-state road were cakes of congealed blood and AK 47 bullet shells.
However, shocked by what he saw, Governor Elechi merely managed to plead with the Ezillo youths, who weremassing for reprisal attacks, to sheathe their swords.
The victims informed the governor that the hoodlums, numbering above 20, entered Ezillo through Oshegbe and escaped through Okpoto, where they said the criminals destroyed the only transformer near the Ezillo police station.
In bouts of emotion, the governor said: “It is only God that will avenge this kind of barbaric act.”
Meanwhile, the state police command has sent for reinforcement from the Zone 6 command, to restore normalcy in the area.