By Ikeugonna Eleke
An Onitsha based rights group, International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) has accused the Nigeria Police Force and the Ebonyi State Government of not showing commitment to finding abducted NELAN engineers.
The engineers working on an AfDB sponsored project had arrived in Ebonyi State three months ago to continue work on the project, but went missing shortly after their arrival.
Intersociety in a press statement signed by its Board of Trustees chairman, Mr Emeka Umeagbalasi, which was made available to journalists in Awka, noted that it had been 90 days since the disappearance of the five engineers and that very little information had been availed the public, the company and the families, by the police and Ebonyi State Government.
The release read in part: ‘Totality of these, in addition to leadership failure, the present Government of Ebonyi State, has been responsible for the continued abduction and disappearance of the five NELAN Field Engineers since 3rd November, 2021, at the construction site of the AfDB funded $150m Ebonyi Ring Road Phase 2 Project located at Effium in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
‘Their high profile abduction and disappearance have lasted for almost three months with nothing concrete coming out of same. While the authorities of the Nigeria Police Force have continued to chase shadows, including wastage of public funds and dissipation of much energy on irrelevancies and frivolities, the Government of Ebonyi State is busy dictatorially distracting the public and diverting their attention and has appeared to be exploiting possible loopholes to escape complicity in furtherance of clear abdication of its constitutional and statutory responsibilities.
‘This is to the extent that the reaction of the State Government issued on 21st December 2021 was filled with contradictions and self-indictments and failed to address the main issues till date.’
The group said all that had happened pointed to a systematic and deliberate effort by the Police and the Government of Ebonyi State to ‘dangerously’ cover up the heinous and dastardly act.
It said that what it described as the colossal failure of the Nigeria Police Force, including its Ebonyi State Police Command and Force Headquarters’ Departments of Intelligence, Investigations, Operations and Information Communications Technology, to unmask the circumstances leading to the five NELAN Engineers’ abduction and disappearance and the criminal citizens, entities or bodies, responsible, also spoke volumes of what he described as the chronic decadence that had afflicted the Force.
The group urged the police and the Ebonyi State Government to offer explanations on certain areas of the disappearance of the engineers to douse tension and doubts surrounding it.
‘As a matter of fact, the Nigeria Police Force and the Ebonyi State Government owe all Nigerians, including the NELAN Engineers Firm and families of the abducted and disappeared, as well as members of the Int’l Community, a mandatory obligation by publicly briefing them on a weekly basis concerning the findings so far made from their investigations, if any.
‘The investigative findings under demand must include: the whereabouts or locations of the abducted and disappeared engineers – whether they are still alive or killed in captivity by their abductors/captors, why they were abducted and disappeared, who and who was responsible for abducting and making them to disappear, the whereabouts or locations of their abductees or slayers who procured them to perpetrate the dastardly act, and who and who had been aiding and abetting their heinous act,’ the group stated.