ShareFOLLOWING the invasion and killing of indigenes of Ezillo in Ishielu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State on Saturday, 14 more bodies have been recovered from the bushes around the community, bringing the death toll to 66.
The youth of the community, who spoke to journalists that accompanied the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) in charge of Zone 6 Calabar, Mr Saidu Daya, to assess the level of carnage in the area on Sunday, stated that the corpses were recovered when a search team constituted by the villagers combed nearby bushes and environs.
The victims, who are children between the ages of three and 10 years, men, adults and the elderly, had different parts of their bodies severed while others had mortal gunshot wounds.
The police AIG confirmed that a team of mobile policemen from neighbouring Cross River, Rivers and Akwa Ibom states had already arrived in the state and deployed in the crisis area to beef up security and restore normalcy.
He said that detectives from the Force Headquarters, Abuja, would equally be drafted to Ebonyi State to carry out investigation with a view to fishing out those behind the attack.
Mr Daya appealed to the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Hafis Ringim, to authorise the establishment of a mobile police unit at Ezillo.
The AIG, who was accompanied by the state Commissioner of Police, Mr Adeola Adeniji, also used the opportunity to console the people of the area, including the traditional ruler, Eze Chima Oyiba, who lost one of his sons, four vehicles and property worth millions of naira, after he narrowly escaped.
Meanwhile, Governor Martin Elechi has said that Saturday morning’s brutal mass murder of scores of indigenes of Ezillo community was a resurgence of the Ezza-Ezillo communal crisis.
The governor, in a special broadcast on Sunday tagged “That Evil may not endure,” stressed that the current episode was a phase in the cycle of destruction and bloodletting which had been the lot of Ezillo since Saturday, May 10, 2008 when the crisis started.
“The shock waves sent by the latest incident are not only because of the wantonness of the destruction, but also because it came at a time when Ebonyi people and other Nigerians thought that peace had returned to Ezillo.”
“As Ezillo burns and Ebonyi people mourn, I want to assure our people and all Nigerians that the state government will stop at nothing to fish out the perpetrators of this dastardly act, neither shall we shirk our responsibility to protect life and property everywhere in the state. We all feel the pains of the bereaved families and we all share their grief,” he said.
Governor Elechi stated that reports at his disposal indicated that “enemies of peace invaded Ezillo in the early hours of Saturday, December 31, 2011, and proceeded to murder men, women and children who had no inkling about the tragedy that befell them. That was not all. The Ezillo market was burnt down, shops were razed, vehicles burnt and other property destroyed.”
The governor assured the citizens of the state that the security agencies had been given orders to take all necessary steps to clear the Abakaliki-Enugu federalexpressway of any kind of blockade to ensure the normal flow of traffic on that road.
The Abakaliki-Enugu expressway cuts through Ezillo community located about 40 kilometres North-East of Abakaliki, the state capital, a situation that brings about the closure of the road each time the recurrent communal conflict starts, thereby forcing motorists to take laborious and treacherous alternative routes.
Most innocent motorists and travellers who had mistakenly followed the Abakaliki-Enugu expressway during the war time were killed with the bodies of some of the victims burnt or buried in the forest.
Ebonyi: Death toll rises to 66 •Gov Elechi vows to deal with culprits