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The vice president pledged increased security in Ebonyi and the rebuilding of razed homes.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo paid a condolence visit to the Southeast state of Ebonyi on Easter Sunday, April 4, 2021; after suspected herders wielding AK-47s reportedly killed more than 15 crop farmers on March 29, 2021.
The attacks occurred in about four communities in the Ishielu local government area of the state, with Ebonyi State Governor Dave Umahi immediately blaming herdsmen for the murders.
During his visit, the vice president pledged that the federal government will do everything to ensure that security is beefed up in communities affected by recent communal clashes and violent attacks in the state, while ensuring justice for victims.
He condemned the attacks and sympathized with the victims, describing the actions as cowardly, wicked and “very deeply distressing.”
Osinbajo first made a stop at Egedegede and Ezza/Effium communities in Ohaukwu local government area where a communal crisis had brewed for days.
Announcing at each stop that he is visiting at the behest of President Muhammadu Buhari who is away in London on medical grounds, Osinbajo later held an interactive session with stakeholders at the state capital before returning to Abuja very late on the day.
According to the vice president, “there is no way we can, by saying sorry, fully compensate for the lives that have been lost and property destroyed. I want you to know that one way we can do something is by seeking justice and providing for the families of those who have lost their homes and we would do so.”
He added that government will ensure justice is done and the perpetrators brought to book, while urging the people of the communities to remain calm and avoid reprisal attacks.
“Let me assure you that we will seek justice on behalf of those who have died not just because they are Nigerians, but because they are human beings and they deserve justice.
“Anybody who watches another person killed next to him and does not feel angry and pained, and doesn’t feel the person deserves justice must answer to God ultimately.
“So, don’t be under any illusion, we will make sure, so long as it lies within our power, that we will seek justice and get justice.
“Which is why I will urge you, as you have done, and you have done the right thing in my view – you have peacefully presented the case, you have very peacefully conducted yourselves, reported to the authorities and sought the right support from the government.
“It is up to the government to provide the best that they can. But we must be careful also not to seek revenge because we don’t know where it will end.”
Assuring the people of improved security in the affected areas, the vice president stated that government will beef up security in the communities to forestall a reccurrence.
“We are in conversation with the GOC and the Army, about ensuring that there is more security provided here. I know that the GOC has already made more provisions, but obviously, there is a need for even greater security provided here,” he said.
At the Ezza and Effium communities in Ohaukwu LGA, Osinbajo stated that the president was extremely concerned about the unfortunate incidents.
“Mr. President was particularly concerned about these, and of course, we spoke to the governor and he – the president – thought it would be good for me to come here on his behalf to speak to the communities, especially the leadership of the community.
“I want to say that it is a very deeply distressing thing and I sympathize, not just with the governor and the people of Ebonyi State, but in particular, the people of the communities that have been affected,” he said.
While emphasizing the need for politicians and other category of leaders to prioritize the welfare of their people, Osinbajo stated that, “politicians who try and create a crisis by milking the death of their people… that is completely irresponsible.
“There is no excuse for it. It is the duty of leaders, political leaders to moderate their statements and make sure that their statements don’t worsen matters and create a crisis,” he added.
The vice president added that the federal government will collaborate with the state government to ensure peace in the affected areas and justice for the victims of the separate incidents.
The vice president was accompanied on the visit to the affected areas by Ebonyi State Governor Umahi, who received him at his first stop at Ishielu LGA.
He had earlier been welcomed by the Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu from where he drove to Ebonyi.
Other dignitaries who accompanied the vice president on the visit were Ebonyi Deputy Governor Kelechi Igwe; the former State Governor Martin Elechi, top Ebonyi State officials and senior officials from several federal government security agencies; among others.
On the vice president’s delegation were the Information and Culture Minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed; Minister of State, Mines and Steel Development, Uche Ogah; and the Special Adviser on Political Affairs to the President, Babafemi Ojudu, among other dignitaries.