40 years after, group remembers Ugep Black Wednesday
IN a bid to set the records straight, the Umor Otutu socio-cultural organisation has commenced the process of unearthing the truth surrounding the 1975 massacre of dozens of persons in Ugep community in Cross River State by a contingent of Nigerian soldiers, who went berserk over the death of one of their own.
President General of the group, Pastor Ben Arikpo, who addressed reporters in Abuja on the 40th anniversary of the 1975 Ugep Massacre, described that day as a black Wednesday, where citizens in Ugep were massacred by soldiers over an offence they did not commit.
Arikpo gave the assurance that members of the association would do all within their powers to obtain the white paper, based on the report of the late Justice Okorobidu-led panel of inquiry set up by the late Head of State, Maj. Gen Murtala Muhammed. He believed the report of the panel might be in a government archive somewhere between Calabar, Enugu, Jos and Lagos.
He explained that the initiative was borne out of the need to not only seek compensation for the family of those affected but also pacify frayed nerves in the community required to ensure lasting peace and security in the polity.
Going down memory lane, Arikpo said the attack came after an erroneous assumption that the people of Ugep had killed a soldier, who was serving in the Army barracks that was then at Ugep. “Acting on the unsubstantiated allegation, soldiers from the barrack attacked the town at night, killing, raping and setting houses ablaze.”
From official report, 13 people were killed, 100 injured and 7,500 houses burnt. But the claim in the official report was, however, debunked by the people, who claimed the casualty figures were under-reported.
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