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55 of the 66 suspected warlords arrested on Saturday in Effium community, Ohaukwu Local Government Area, Ebonyi State over the communal crisis in the area have reportedly absconded from detention.
The detainees who are now at large were arrested by a combined team of police and army at Okpuduma village in the town with arms and charms during a raid led by the General Officer Commanding, 82 Division of the Nigeria Army, Maj. Gen. Taoreen Lagbaja.
Lagbaja was on an operational visit to the community following persistent killings, shootings, and burning of houses in the troubled community.
He was assisted by other top army officers, the state Commissioner of Police Aliyu Garba and his special team, the state Deputy Governor Dr. Kelechi Igwe, and the state Commissioner for Internal Security and Border Peace Stanley Okoro Emegha, among other government officials.
The suspects were rounded up and security agents in the area searched the places they were spotted and recovered some guns and live cartridges including charms.
After the arrest of the suspects and recovery of the arms and charms, the GOC and the team proceeded to Nwekendiagu village in the community for the same operation.
The suspects were handed over to the police by the GOC for movement to police headquarters, Abakaliki for further investigation.
But immediately the team left the community, information filtered in that 55 out of the 66 suspects had escaped from custody while their whereabouts were unknown.
The Commissioner for Internal Security and Border Peace, Stanley Emegha, described their escape as an act of sabotage on the part of security agencies.
He accused the security agents to whom the suspects were handed over of aiding their escape and threatened that the government would be forced to use the state vigilante to end the persistent hostilities in the community.
He said: ‘Our visit today was a major breakthrough by arresting those people, but very unfortunate that out of the 66, security agencies that were saddled with the responsibility of guarding those people to Abakaliki compromised.
‘As we moved, they released them, and the governor, through the deputy governor, has demanded an explanation from the CP and the Commanding Officer.
‘The Commissioner of Police was there. He saw them. It was my insistence that those people must be arrested, that these are the warriors and they shouldn’t be allowed to stay in the community. So, it is compromise on the part of the security.’
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