Some children have been kidnapped from the Enyigba community in Abakaliki Local Government Area of Ebonyi State over a land dispute with the Enyibichiri community in Ikwo Local Government Area.
Uchenna Orji, the state’s Commissioner for Information and Orientation, confirmed the incident in a statement on Monday, June 7, and said Governor David Umahi has promised to rescue the abducted children.
The number of children abducted and their ages were not mentioned in the statement.
The Governor pleaded with kidnappers to return the children to the government within the next seven days, promising them total amnesty.
“Ebonyi State Governor, David Nweze Umahi, is deeply saddened by the unexpected turn of events involving two brothers, Enyibuchiri Ikwo and Enyigba Abakaliki,” the statement reads.
“The kidnapping of Enyigba Abakaliki children by Enyibichiri Ikwo miscreants is the height of provocation, as there was no dispute between the two communities.
“The Governor is aware that the only land dispute between them has been finally settled by the government with the assistance of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Bishops of Ebonyi State, a process that took the state over three years to complete.
“It should be noted that the Ebonyi State government, through CAN, went so far as to hire heavy-duty equipment to work on the disputed land for three months before completing a final demarcation that was accepted by both parties.
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“As a result, the government is perplexed as to why the kidnapping of innocent Enyigba Izzi children was planned and carried out by a small group of Enyibichiri Ikwo miscreants. The Governor assures the entire Izzi clan that the Enyibichiri and Ikwo people as a whole completely condemn this evil act.
“The Governor vows to rescue and reunite these children with their families at any cost, and thus begs our Izzi brothers and sisters to please remain calm and prevent their children from taking laws into their own hands while promising them that the matter of their children’s abduction will be resolved amicably within 7 days.
“The Governor is optimistic that, with the help of his administration, religious leaders, and other Ebonyi State stakeholders, these children will be safely returned to the people of Izzi. As a result, the Governor begs abductors to kindly release the children to the government within the next 7 days, beginning June 6, 2021, with a promise of total amnesty to them.
“The government is unwilling to release any of the Enyibichiri leaders who are currently detained in order to emphasize the importance of the lives of those kidnapped. The Governor believes that every life is sacred, and the lives of those kidnapped are extremely important to the government.
“As a result, the government warns the abductors of the consequences of failing to provide these children within the next seven (7) days, as the government will have no choice but to move into Enyibichiri and make a massive arrest to reclaim the children.
“As a result, the Governor warns the abductors’ parents, both immediate and extended families, that they are well known and begs them to talk to their children in order to free those innocent children. He also warns that if they fail, refuse, or neglect to do so, the government will find them, no matter where they flee to.
“The Governor appeals to parents in Ebonyi State to please advise their children to be law-abiding, as any further killings, burning of police stations, attacks on security agencies, or innocent citizens where we cannot apprehend those involved, we will go after their family members.
“The government has provided enough space, as well as numerous incentives and empowerment packages, for our youths to turn away from crime and not take the law into their own hands. The grace period has expired, and it is time for parents to advise their children or submit the names of such children to the government.
“The government warns all political gladiators, regardless of political party affiliation, who, through their fake news and various media outbursts, either initiate or participate in inciting or escalating the crisis in the state, that the government will not fold its hands but will go after them no matter where they are.
“The government warns that you must be able to prove any news you post or circulate.” The government is pleading with us as Ebonyi State leaders not to gamble with the lives of our youths or citizens for any reason because everyone will account to God for whatever blood is shed.
“While the security challenges are being addressed, the Governor requests that the good people of Ebonyi State continue with their normal activities, as the government is doing everything possible to protect their lives and properties,” the statement concluded.