Ebonyi State Townhall Interactive Session With Stakeholders
REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AT THE TOWNHALL INTERACTIVE SESSION WITH COMMUNITY LEADERS AND STAKEHOLDERS ACROSS EBONYI STATE ON THE 4TH OF APRIL, 2021
I am here on behalf of Mr. President and on whose instruction I’m here, to also say that we condole with the good people of Ebonyi State over the killings in Egedegede and also the killings in Ezza and Effium communities.
Let me begin by saying also that we are very concerned about the fact that these killings, especially the one in the Egedegede community where innocent people were slaughtered; women, children were killed in horrible circumstances.
We say that these killings must be condemned in the strongest possible terms, there is no question at all and there is no excuse for any of these things to happen. Nobody can defend the killing of innocent people; these people had lived side by side for many years with those who may have killed them.
Like you and I, they woke up one morning, going out to do their duties and find a way of making a living for themselves, and then they were dead before the end of that day.
It is a very sad, terrible, unacceptable situation and I want to say that the Federal Government of Nigeria feels very strongly about these actions that took place in these communities are unacceptable. We must find all of those who committed these crimes and we must ensure that they are prosecuted and that justice is ensured for all of those who lost their lives and for members of their families.
The truth is that every one of these killings that have taken place, in different communities, has become our responsibility to ensure that these killings do not take place again. When I say Government, I am not just talking about the Federal Government alone or the State Government, but also the local communities.
But I am very pleased to say that in the Egedegede community, the political leaders there and the local community leaders were able to find some evidence, facts which we hope can be thoroughly investigated by the police and security agencies in order to trace and find some of those who may have committed this terrible crime.
There is a duty for each and every one of us, especially for rural leaders, that duty is to ensure that we maintain as much as possible, peace in all of the communities where we serve as political leaders.
Asides from seeking justice for those who have been killed and for those who have lost their properties, we also intend to ensure that there is security, especially in those communities. Already more soldiers and police have been deployed to the 3 communities.
I have looked at the situation today and also been fully briefed when we visited the communities this afternoon. But in the immediate, we need to ensure that relief of some sort is brought there also and the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management will be moving around to provide as much relief in the short term to ensure that those who have been displaced from their homes are sheltered and be provided for by the State. This is of course only in the short term.
One of the agreements we reached at the National Economic Council (which is a meeting we hold every month and I have the privilege of chairing, which includes all the Governors of the State) is that when these type of things occur, both the Federal and State Governments must come together to compensate those whose properties and lives have been destroyed and where possible, to rebuild and rehabilitate and to give some financial assistance or other assistance to those communities.
We remain committed to the agreements that we made and we ensure that as much as possible, there is compensation for those who have lost properties and to families of those who have lost their lives.
That is a very important commitment because as I said, it is the duty of the government to ensure the protection of citizens. If we do not want people to resolve to self-help and violence, then it is constituted authority to use legal force and we will do so. We accept that responsibility and we are doing the very best that is possible to ensure that responsibility is carried out.
Let me say also that just as the Honorable Member who spoke a few minutes ago said, people lose patience if they find on the field that the government is not doing enough. But I want to ask that we continue to be as patient as possible. Let us ensure that we do the best we can to support the efforts of the government in ensuring peace and tranquility.
All across the country as you can see, there are various clashes in different parts of the country, which means sometimes that the police and the army also have a great deal of difficulty in coping with different flashpoints. Some, such as we have seen in Ezza and Effium communities, are communal clashes, here and there.
All of these have to be the responsibility of the police and other security agencies. So there is a need for us to understand some of the challenges that the security agencies have and also to be patient.
But I agree with you fully, and all those who have spoken before, that people are worried and concerned and there is a great deal of pain, but let me say that that pain cannot be assuaged by revenge, it cannot be assuaged by retaliation.
In this century, there has been no conflict that has ended. They start but never end, and the consequence goes on and on.
Just a couple of days ago, we had a colloquium where we looked at the consequences of conflicts across the different parts of Africa. Poverty increases when there is conflict, the poor suffer even more and the suffering just continues. When you have economic difficulties, it is even worse.
So, I want to urge you to ensure that you as much as possible, maintain peace and I assure you of the commitment of the Federal Government to defend all communities and to do everything that is possible to ensure that these kinds of conflicts do not occur again and that justice is delivered on behalf of those who have lost their lives and who have lost their properties.
Let me also say that the duty of leaders is an onerous and massive duty. When leaders speak the truth to their people, people criticize them. If a leader talks about unity where people have been killed, people will say he is a coward and has sold out and not doing the right thing, but that is the burden of leadership. We must still continue to speak the truth to our people.
No matter how we slice it, this country is stronger together than apart. The only thing is that we must seek justice, we must ensure that everybody is treated fairly, every community is treated fairly and with equity and we can do so. We don’t need spirits to come down or angels to come down to resolve the problems of this country. We can resolve those conflicts ourselves and we will do so.
What everybody is calling for, every community, every tribe is calling for is equity, fairness, justice, that’s all and that is achievable. I can assure you that we are committed to ensuring that there is equity and fairness.
Finally, let me reiterate the commitment of the Federal Government in ensuring that all of the issues in the various areas especially here in Ebonyi State, are resolved. Not just the killings I have spoken about, but also the community disputes, everything that we need to do, deployment of police, deployment of troops, compensation, and rebuilding where ever it is required, all of these we will do.
I would like to thank you again, the people of Ebonyi State, this is a State that is set for progress, there is so much that is going on by way of development and we must not in any way, abort the development that is going on.
We must defend the development going on in this State because there is no profit in war whatsoever, no one will derive from conflict and fighting. All that will profit us is peace, security, and prosperity.
Thank you very much and God bless you.