Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) has urged the police and sister agencies to secure the unconditional release of the seven Ebonyi children abducted by suspected hoodlums at Enyigba community.
The children were abducted from their respective homes at Enyigba community in Abakaliki Local Government Area (LGA) of Ebonyi by unknown persons, following alleged renewed conflict over a land dispute with Enyibichiri community in Ikwo LGA.
A statement signed by the state secretary of CDHR, Jeremiah Oyibe, on Tuesday in Abakaliki, urged the police to ensure the safe and unconditional release of the seven abductees.
The CDHR added that the police and the state government should ensure the arrest and trial of those involved in the criminal abduction of innocent children.
The group expressed displeasure that children had become target of attacks in armed conflicts and extreme violence.
It said that abduction of children in armed conflicts for whatever reason was not only condemnable and disturbing but heartbreaking.
“Ensuring accountability for such crimes along with crimes against humanity and genocide is an essential part of upholding responsibility to protection as well as establishing a basis for sustainable peace and reconciliation.
“Not bringing perpetrators to book is tantamount to evading accountability and such impunity not only denies victims justice and reparation, it equally produces an environment conducive for continuous perpetration of such crimes,” the group said.
The Ebonyi government, in conjunction with the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Ebonyi chapter, had waded into the boundary dispute involving the two sister communities and settled the dispute.
The state government and CAN brokered a peace agreement that was signed by the two communities and the boundaries clearly demarcated.
CDHR, however, expressed sadness over the recent crisis that led to the abduction of the seven children whom their mothers left at home when they went to the market to buy foodstuff.
“We, therefore, wish to urge the Inspector General of Police, the Nigerian government, Ebonyi government to, as matter of urgency, facilitate the safe return of the abducted children from Enyigba community,” the CDHR added.
In a statement released on June 7 by the governor’s spokesperson, Uchenna Orji, the Ebonyi government had promised that the abduction will be resolved within seven days. The governor also warned that if the children were not released within the stipulated period, the government would have no option other than to effect mass arrests in Enyibichiri community.
At a recently expanded stakeholders security meeting in Abakaliki, the governor of the state, Dave Umahi, still promised to ensure that all the abducted children were released unhurt and reunited with their families.