Ebiras residing in the state of Ondo have been admonished by Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu to purge the criminals from among them.
The warning was included in a news release that his chief press secretary, Richard Olatunde, released on Sunday and provided to media in Akure.
Mr. Akeredolu pleaded with the Ebira people not to stray from their line of work as farmers, noting that they had long coexisted with the natives of the state.
They were exhorted by the governor to work with the government to eradicate crime from the state.
According to the statement, the governor addressed the community leaders of the Ebira during a meeting behind closed doors.
In view of the June 5 church slaughter in Owo and other kidnapping incidents in the state, according to Mr. Akeredolu, the conference was called.
Leo Irabor, the Chief of Defence Staff, had announced the arrest of four accused Owo massacre culprits on August 9. The fact that the suspects are thought to be of Ebira descent raises suspicion because many Ondo communities have a sizable Ebira population, who are originally from nearby Kogi State.
In order to preserve their reputations and integrity, Mr. Akeredolu revealed that the Ebira community’s leaders had been pushed to purge their ranks of criminals.
“We summoned this meeting with our brothers. They are not new here but because of the recent developments that have to do with the Owo massacre and kidnappings, we have to call ourselves.
“I can assure you all that we have had very frank discussions and the leader of the Ebiras in Ondo State spoke on behalf of his people.
“We leave here today with the belief that our brothers, Ebira, that are here would at the least work to ensure that there is security in Ondo State and in doing that we have charged them to discuss with all their people.
“They have assured us they will do that and we want to call on our people to at least let us continue with our brotherliness and maintain the good relationship we have had with them in the past.
“We believe that it is not those who are residing here that came to perpetrate this crime. That is what they have said and we should give them another chance.
“Let us live together in peace and I hope and pray that the Ebiras who are here in Ondo State will work with the government and security agencies to make sure that criminals are flushed out within our midst,” he said.
Odeyani Anabira served as the head of the Ebira delegation.
At the meeting were also the state’s security chiefs and Lucky Aiyedatiwa, the deputy governor of Ondo State.