Gov. David Umahi of Ebonyi on Friday suspended the Auditor-General of the state, Mr Innocent Nwida, from office over the latest communal crisis in the state.
The governor also suspended other elected and appointed office holders from Igbeagu Community in the Izzi Local Government Area of the state because of the crisis.
On April 9, Umahi suspended the chairmen of Ikwo and Abakaliki Local Government Councils and all elected and appointed office holders from Enyibichiri in Ikwo and Enyigba in Abakaliki over a communal clash.
Dr Kenneth Ugbala, Commissioner for Border, Peace and Internal Security, announced the suspension of the officials while addressing newsmen after the governor’s meeting with people from Igbeagu Community, involved in a boundary dispute with Ukele community in Cross River.
Ugbala noted that the suspension, which took immediate effect would elapse when peace returned to the communities.
“The affected persons include the Auditor-General of the state, Mr Innocent Nwida, Mr Cletus Nwakpu, Project Coordinator of the FADAMA 3 programme and His Royal Highness, Ogbonnaya Ukwa, among other political office holders.
“The issue of whether the governor has the constitutional right to suspend the elected officers does not arise because they are constitutionally mandated to protect the lives and property of their people.
“However, when an elected officer fails to perform this function, he has violated the constitution and should either resign, be suspended or charged to court.
“The courts would interpret such issues further and we are expecting such situations with this decision taken,” Ugbala said.
The commissioner berated the National Boundary Commission (NBC) for its inability to permanently resolve the bound disputes, including others in several parts of the state.
“We sometimes doubt the sincerity of the Federal Government in settling such crisis and view the NBC as a toothless bulldog.
“It has made several visits to the disputed areas even before the inception of the present administration but no decision has been made.
“It is not our duty to demarcate the boundaries and the state government has attended all meetings convened by the NBC, being always disposed to peace.
“We urge the commission to live up to its responsibilities because no land is worth the lives of the citizens.
“The commission only makes ‘urban carol’ visits to the areas whenever there are clashes and we urge the media to mandate it to perform its duties.”
The commissioner noted that Umahi would visit the affected areas on Saturday to assess the extent of damage and find a permanent solution to the crisis.
“Stakeholders from the areas are enjoined to enlighten their people on ways of ensuring peace as the government will also look into issues concerning internally displaced persons,” he said.