Umahi and the killing of NELAN Engineers in Ebonyi
By Carl Umegboro
Truly, the heart bleeds. The litany of atrocities allegedly being committed by the administration of Dave Umahi, governor of Ebonyi state leaves much to be desired of a normal person in the street let alone a public officer. Federal government must without delays and any political sentiment commence a full-scale investigation to unravel the abduction and killing of five consultant engineers working on the African Development Bank (AfDB) by hoodlums allegedly working for the Umahi led-state government. Reports from diverse quarters show that the state governor had been hostile to the consultants for causes best known to him.
The five engineers working with an Enugu-based consultant engineering firm; NELAN Consulting Engineers were abducted on 3rd November after they were deployed to the Ring Road project at Effium in Ebonyi state in continuation of routine supervisory works. A full-scale investigation is compulsory as all reports point accusing fingers and allege many threats from Governor Umahi against the lead consultant and managing director, Nelson Onyemeh. During a security council meeting of the state on 30th November, Governor Umahi disclosed that the five engineers abducted by the notorious Ezza Warriors were killed and buried in Ebonyi state. This madness is alien to Igboland.
To worsen it, a source in the state alleged that the consultants were not just killed but burnt like criminals. Perhaps, as a cover up, their burnt corpses were hurriedly, secretly buried in Ebonyi thereby depriving their families access to their dead bodies. This allegation is grievous and therefore demands the whys and wherefores for the traumatic, heartless termination of lives of these professionals. Logically, Umahi is concealing something. In contradiction, the South-East region that has made ‘marginalization’ a daily chorus is instilling insecurity making their environment a no-go zone; killing their own professionals, eminent figures and monarchs at will and resisting developmental projects. This is indeed shameful.
The victims; Engr. Nelson Onyemeh (lead consultant/Chief Executive Officer of the engineering firm) from Ihiala in Anambra State; Engr. Ernest Edeani from Nkanu in Enugu State; Ikechukwu Ejiofor from Umunya in Oyi LGA of Anambra State; Engr. Samuel Aneke from Nkanu in Enugu-East LGA of Enugu State and Engr. Stanley Nwazulum from Amawbia in Awka-South LGA of Anambra State; all from the South-East geopolitical zone deserve justice.
Expectedly, the Ihiala Progressive Union (IPU), umbrella body of the people of Ihiala whose illustrious son, Onyemeh is a victim, had demanded for his whereabouts from the Umahi-led government. Certainly, the families of the other four victims must have done so or perhaps still in severe shocks. This ugly incident can trigger intra-community crisis if not diligently and urgently handled. Thus, President Muhammadu Buhari pursuant to his statutory duty to protect lives and property in the Nigerian Constitution must ensure that justice is done urgently on this tragic incident. No amount of concealment of facts will survive.
Another source had also said thus; “Specifically, those close to the murdered civil engineer who spoke to the television’s reporter, insisted that the relationship between Governor Umahi and NELAN had remained very frosty to a point that some of the vehicles assigned to them for the execution of the project were allegedly withdrawn, leaving them with only one Toyota Hilux for their routine operations”. All these and many others point strong accusing fingers at the governor and his state government. So, the governor has explanations on the whereabouts of these professionals that were assigned to add values to the state. Virtually all the reports from sources that have monitored events in Ebonyi state since the administration of Umahi have the similar accounts, indicting the governor of one brutality, violence or egocentricity to another.
As alleged, many investors that showed up in the state had to run for their dear lives. Shoprite reportedly came and took to their heels. Then, the governor constructed a Chinese Mall on the land they were to site the Shoprite. A delegation from the Computer Village, Lagos came and ran away. Silverbird Cinema came and ran away. The African Development Bank is now financing a mega project of about $150 million dollars but rather than celebrate the revolution, the contractors are killed as criminals. The list continues as purported. Many allege that for any project to be carried on, there must be settlement to key state actors. The question to Umahi and his cronies is; how will the state grow economically with these kinds of primitive and nonchalant mindsets?
The disappearance of the five NELAN consultants working for the AfDB funded Abakaliki-Ring Road projects for the benefit of Ebonyi people is very unfortunate. The ‘powerful’ governor as seemingly portrayed didn’t even deem it fit to convey a message to the victims’ families that his Ezza Warriors irresponsibly abducted, killed and buried the engineers executing a project for the welfare of Ebonyi people. Ridiculously, this is a time people are earnestly yearning for foreign investors to stimulate the economy, yet, mindless people kept unleashing terror on key actors and stakeholders. Not even during the military era was such a barbaric act recorded. This particular event has blacklisted the state the most and portrayed the governor as not only shallow-minded but also bereft of ideas and a heartless creature in the human body.
Commendably, the Association of Ebonyi State Indigenes in Diaspora (AESID) has lent her voice calling for a thorough investigation on the disappearance and killing of the five engineers working for the development of the state. Similarly, the House of Representatives has also mandated IGP Usman Baba Alkali to urgently, thoroughly investigate the matter as moved by Hon Ifeanyi Momah representing Ihiala federal Constituency in the lower chamber. To sum up, the coldblooded killing of these innocent professionals without any cause is agonizing, traumatic and the height of stupidity in recent times, and portrays the masterminds as irrational beings. Thus, the culprits must be brought to book immediately.
Umegboro, a public affairs analyst and social advocate wrote from Ihiala in Anambra state.
To worsen it, a source in the state alleged that the consultants were not just killed but burnt like criminals. Perhaps, as a cover up, their burnt corpses were hurriedly, secretly buried in Ebonyi thereby depriving their families access to their dead bodies. This allegation is grievous and therefore demands the whys and wherefores for the traumatic, heartless termination of lives of these professionals. Logically, Umahi is concealing something.