BY AGNES NWORIE, ABAKALIKI
Some members of the Ebonyi State Government House Press Crew shiver as they recall their recent narrow escape from death in the crisis ridden Abaomege/Isinkwo axis in the Onicha Local Government Area of the state.
The crew, composed of photographers, online bloggers, camera men, aides to the Special Assistant to the Governor on Media and Publicity and staff of the Ebonyi State Broadcasting Corporation, Abakaliki, narrowly escaped death as some warlords attacked them on their way to an official assignment.
The 10-man-press-crew on the way to Uburu in Ohaozara Local Government, hometown of Governor David Umahi, were said to have missed their track and burst into the crisis ravaged Abaomege community where some deadly warlords have their nests.
The agitated warlords deflated the tyres of their vehicle and charged towards them in a bid to mow them down.
Narrating their ordeal, Ewa Nworie, who led the media crew, thanked God for saving them from the heavily armed men who initially scared the living daylights out of them but later had compassion on them and resolved to spare their lives.
Nworie, who called for peace in the zone, appealed to the authorities to be alive to their responsibilities by dialoguing with aggrieved parties.
He said, “The 4th day of May 2022 was indeed, a day God showed His usual mercy upon me and my team, the Ebonyi State Government House Press Corps, as we unknowingly ran into the jaws of the Abaomege/Isinkwo warlords.
“The day would have turned a black day for us, the press family, but, the Almighty God delivered us from the den of lion, untouched and unscathed, even when the marauding warlords, muttered to our hearing that ‘yes, this is the type of people we want; you have brought market.’
“But, surprisingly, through God’s intervention, we came out alive after much pleading, to tell the story. That fateful day, we were just driving to Uburu through the Abaomege Flyover to perform our official function. We were supposed to meet the governor at Uburu, his hometown and follow him as he went for project supervision.
“Few meters away, we suddenly ran into a barricade mounted on the highway, and before we could realize it, our front left tyre was already passing out air as it matched on top of 6 inches nails planted to trap passersby.
“We could neither move forward nor backward since the 6 inches nails, four in number, were already sunk into our front tires. The warlords, wearing their talisman, conspicuously on their chests like a necklace, appeared from the bush, threatening to deal ruthlessly with us for daring their barricade into which our vehicle got trapped. “Courageously, when I came out from the front seat of our vehicle to plead with them, more of the warlords emerged from the bush. The more I pleaded, the more they became aggressive, especially those wearing talismans, wrapped with red materials dangling on their chests.
“As they spit fire and brimstone to pounce on us, God suddenly changed their countenance. One of them opted out to assist us; he detached the nails from our front tyre. He went back to the bush and brought long pliers which he used to remove it.
“However, as the threat continued, God intervened and their leader ordered us to go back or meet a more dangerous scenario in front where, he said, we would be robbed and given lethal treatment. I told the driver to reverse immediately with the remaining nails still not removed. He did and we later got to a safe place where a vulcanizer was called to remove the remaining nails and change the tyre.
“It was a very bad experience which no one would even wish on his enemies. We smelt death, but escaped narrowly. Recall that similar incident took place at Effium/Ezza Effium war zone which consumed the lives of five promising engineers overseeing the state ring road construction.
“While I thank the Almighty God for saving our lives, I wish to plead with the security agents and other relevant authorities in the state to make hay while the sun shines. That particular road from Abomege, through Isinkwo to Uburu is now a death trap occasioned by the activities of war mercenaries.
“For some time now, there had been pockets of attacks and abductions by the warlords in the warring Abomege and Isinkwo communities, especially on innocent people. Record has it that the war between Abomege and Isinkwo has been an age long one which has consumed lives and properties.”
Despite the government’s intervention, there had been pockets of unresolved crises in some communities in the state leading to mindless killings and loss of properties worth billions of naira.
The Security Consultant to the state government, Stanley Okoro-Emegha, said that the state was unrelenting in ensuring that peace returned to the volatile parts of the state.
Okoro-Emegha said, “Crimes cannot be totally eradicated in any human society. People should stop giving the crisis an opportunity to start because it will surely escalate to engulf them. The crisis between Abaomege and Isinkwo is under control. The state government never relented.
“We have been doing our best to stop it but, you know, such a crisis where lives are lost doesn’t end easily. We thank God no life was lost during the attack (on the media crew). We advise all to be careful about places that they go and when they go.”