The Secretary of Ebonyi State Traditional Rulers Council, His Royal Highness, Ezeogo Patrick Aja yesterday distanced himself and his cabinet members on the recent attack against a clergyman by name Chukwu Obeni in Amasiri Community, Afikpo North Local Government of the state.
HRM Aja who doubles as the Isaka-Ogu of Isaka kingdom and member Government Traditional Rulers Forum explained that their culture as people of Amasiri is not jungle justice. He added that the tradition of the people of the area since ages is distinct, clean, and clear. He made this known to Journalists in Abakiliki while reacting over the barbaric beaten meted on the clergy.
“We have our customs and tradition and it is very distinct, clear and clean and such barbaric action was nerve endorsed or ordered by any of us in the traditional council in Amasiri”, he explained.
Obeni’s sin was that he made some posts on his Facebook handle against a few leaders of the community, which certain member claimed was slanderous and capable of jeopardizing the much-enjoyed peace in the area.
But it was gathered that midway into the flogging, his elder brother intervened by buying off 18 strokes of the canes with N9, 500 to reduce his punishment to 50 strokes. Obeni, is currently receiving treatment at Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital(AE-FUTHA). Although, an annoumous who doesn’t want his name on print said the victim has apologised to the community over his action.
The incident occurred last Thursday and the video of his torture is still trending on the internet. Narrating his ordeal, Obeni said: “I was called by one Julius Nyerere that I was invited to Essa Chairman’s House. I got to the place and saw Essa Executive seated and all the members of Isioru.
“They were treating a matter of somebody who fought them, so I waited till they finished the matter.
“They called me out when they finished. They forced me to lie down and face the ground. After, the Essa chairman Omezue Godwin Elekwa asked me to sit up and come closer.
“He asked Amadi Julius Nyerere to brief them about me and he briefed them, telling them that I am posting something against leaders of our community on facebook,” he said.
But the community justified their action saying the victim desecrated its authority, by insulting leaders and defaming them in his facebook posts, thereby creating insecurity in the community and portraying them in bad light.
Vice Chairman of the Essa ruling Council in the community, Chief Godffery Oko, said the posts by Obeni were false and threatened the peace of the community.
The security outfit of this community the Isi-oru handled that situation. The boy was found guilty of defaming people’s character, he was publishing in the internet falsehood against individuals and also try to portray the Essa ruling council in bad light. He was not so maltreated and asked to eat feaces in the way the enemies of the community are portraying it.
“All we are after is the good governance of our community, how to bring back peace; the elusive peace in Amasiri. Before now, the state has known that Amasiri has been a very volatile area in terms of violence, cultism, robbery and all have you.
“And so Amasiri people have been desirous on how to go about peace. So, the community had to introduce the Isi-Oru as the vanguards and security outfit in this community to checkmate this type of mess in the community.
“We are not partisan and anybody who tries to whip in politics in what we are doing here in Amasiri is making a very big mistake because we have our traditional ways of handling issues and we do not do it arbitrarily; somebody must be giving chance to defend himself when he is being accused of committing an offence in the community and that is democratic enough. We always discuss an offence one commits in this community within ourselves and if you are found guilty, we will dish out punishment accordingly. We do not do jungle justice accordingly.
“Anybody who commits an offence must have to face the consequences according to the rules or laws of this community. What we are doing is according to our tradition; the way we handle things to bring about peace not minding whose ox is gored”.
On his part, the Chairman of Isioru, Julius Amadi Nyerere, said the punishment meted to Obeni was age-long, stating: “Some of these punishments are being removed. For example, if it was in the old, the authority of the community in Amasiri which the Essa like this is representing, sometimes it is usually.
“But because of modernization, these things are changed and you are just giving strokes of canes to reform you to desist from behaving the way you did. The Essa invited the guy to defend himself and he was found guilty and he was punished accordingly”.
Meanwhile, the Ebonyi State Police Command through the State’s Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Loveth Odah says it has arrested a suspect in connection with the incident.
DSP Odah who promised that the police would get to the root of the matter added that the suspect is now helping police with relevant information.