The Ebonyi Government says it has pardoned and will release 31 under-aged detainees at the correctional service remand home, over their involvement in the fratricidal Ezza/ Ezza-Effium conflict.
Gov. David Umahi disclosed this in Abakaliki while swearing-in a new judge of the state’s Customary Court of Appeal, Justice Paul Awada.
Umahi said that the State Executive Council deliberated on the issue and decided to pardon the detainees as normalcy has returned to the area.
“These under-aged detainees were recruited by stakeholders of the area and armed with sophisticated weapons such as AK-47 rifles.
“I did not hesitate to order for their detention since January but they have shown good conduct since then,” he said.
The governor said that Awada’s swearing-in was delayed because he hailed from the community which had lost several indigenes and property due to the conflict.
“We would be attracting God’s wrath if he was sworn-in then, but can do so now as normalcy has returned to the area.
“The two protagonists whose interests sparked the war–the local government area chairman and the house of assembly member representing the area, have also been granted bail,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Deputy Governor, Dr Kelechi Igwe had earlier led some top government officials to visit the detainees at the remand home, Abakaliki.
Igwe while interrogating the detainees, commended them for their good conduct during their stay at the home and admonished them to shun acts which led to their incarceration.
“The government will liaise with your parents to evolve ways of properly re-integrating you into the society to be useful,” he said.
He also promised to make case for other inmates of the home incarcerated over other offences such as defilement.
“We would however meet with your parents and those of the victims of the defilement, to assuage their anger and pain,”
One of the detainees (names withheld) begged the deputy governor for forgiveness and pledged to turn a new leaf.