…Says ‘We need roadblocks downsized in S-East’
…Nowhere secured in Nigeria —Mbazulike Amechi
…Kidnapping, banditry, others alien in S-East —Ohanaeze
By Anayo Okoli, Peter Okutu & Chimaobi Nwaiwu
Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State yesterday said the South-East has relatively recorded the lowest incidents of security challenges compared to other regions in the country.
He stated this when he highlighted the steps being taken by governors in the region to ensure the security of lives and property of the people in the South-East.
The governor yesterday, also called on the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. T. Y. Buratai, to ensure the downsizing of the number of roadblocks within the South-East geopolitical zone of the country.
According to him, the downsizing will give comfort to the people of the region.
Umahi, who is also the Chairman of the South-East Governors’ Forum, spoke during his appearance on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily.
“I tell you that relatively in the whole country, South East is still better secured than any other region and I give kudos to our governors who work day and night to ensure that this happens,” he said.
The governor decried the general security situation in the country, including the challenges of Boko Haram insurgency, banditry, kidnapping and cultism among others.
He, therefore, proposed state police as the way forward to tackle the problems of security in the nation.
Governor Umahi stressed that leaders in the country must act fast to address the security challenges the nation was grappling with.
He also asked them, especially the lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives chambers of the National Assembly and other legislative houses to put the interest of the people ahead of personal interests.
The governor said: “We, as a nation, we cannot continue to go like this, we cannot fold our hands and continue to see the lives of our people being wasted. This is very important; state police should be advocated for and what our leaders should know is that you don’t make a law to suit you.”
The solution and its problems
He, therefore, challenged the lawmakers to take advantage of the process to review the nation’s constitution and push for state police.
According to the governor, this will give confidence to the people because insecurity in various communities is peculiar to those communities.
He, however, explained that governors in the South-East zone were being careful with the issue of state police in order not to be misunderstood.
Umahi noted that the governors were doing quite a lot but some people, including Ohanaeze, still find it difficult to understand them. He insisted that state police was the way to go, although it has its own problems.
The governor said: “I have not seen any governor that comes to speak about state police, every solution creates its own problems.
“You cannot totally say that state police is going to be the answer to all our insecurity, it has its own problems, but I think that is what our people need.”
We need roadblocks downsized in South East
The governor made a case for downsizing roadblocks in the zone while being received by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. TY Buratai, at Defence Headquarters, Abuja.
Umahi presented three requests for consideration to the Army, including downsizing the number of roadblocks, creation of Army Unit and legitimate acquisition of land at Amasiri, in Afikpo North Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
He said: “To give comfort to our people, we need the roadblocks downsized. It will be difficult to say dismantle all the roadblocks in South-East but the governors’ of South-East are in support that the roadblocks be downsized.
“I came for three things: you have land in Amasiri in Afikpo North LGA in Ebonyi State that is designated to be yours but that is by the words of mouth. The indigenes took us to court and we came to find out that the land was not properly acquired.
“If you love that land so much, then we can start the process of acquisition or we can acquire a brand new place formally.
“We are requesting to have an army unit in the form of Forwarding Operation Base in the South-East. This is to strengthen the security of the zone. We promise as a government to build the infrastructure, though we have the infrastructure that they can start with even if they come tomorrow while we take time to build a very good place for them.
“Finally, the compo ration is being launched in Abakaliki in the barracks, the MOU has been signed. It is a very laudable venture of the army and security agencies.
“So, I plead that we look into it, maybe we can take a tour of the barracks so that you can commission the road network I built for the army at Abakaliki and we can use the opportunity to see if we can revive that partnership as Ebonyi State government is willing.”
Responding, the Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Buratai, thanked the governor for his visit and assured him of the army’s commitment towards peace and order in the region.
Immediately after the meeting with Chief of Army Staff, the governor proceeded for a meeting with IGP, Mohammed Adamu, where he requested the creation of additional Mobile Squadron in Ebonyi State.
Nowhere secured in Nigeria — Mbazulike Amechi
But reacting to Umahi’s claim, elder statesman, Chief Mbazilike Amechi, disagreed with him, saying that in Nigeria today, no place can be said to be secured.
According to Amechi, the South-East governors cannot claim or boast that South-East is secured because “going by what is happening in Nigeria there is no place that is currently secured.
“How can anybody or any governor or governors’ group in Nigeria claim to have secured any place in Nigeria? From what is happening in Nigeria, nobody can claim security of any part of Nigeria.
“If there is insecurity in Nigeria and no part of Nigeria is secured or nobody can guarantee the security of any part of Nigeria, South East is part of Nigeria, and therefore, South East cannot be said to be secured by anybody including the governors.”
In his reaction, a security expert and former President General of Onitsha Markets Amalgamated Traders Association, OMATA, Chief Pius Anaekwe, said there was no security in South-East.
“Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State, who incidentally is the Chairman of South-East Governors Forum, is being economical with the truth if he claimed that South East is secured. He cannot tell anybody residing in South-East such half-truth, it is only foreigners and strangers that are not in South East he would tell that.
Kidnapping, banditry, others alien in S-East — Ohanaeze
Meanwhile, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, yesterday emphasized that the issue of insurgency, banditry or herdsmen menace, remain alien in the South-East geopolitical zone of the country.
National Publicity Secretary of the Igbo group, Prince Uche Achi-Okpaga, stated this while reacting to Governor David Umahi’s statement on the peaceful nature of the South East region.
According to him, the menace of insecurity was hatched from other regions, especially the core North and exported to other places.
“In Nigeria, the South-East is relatively the most peaceful region. The issue of insurgency, banditry or herdsmen menace, as it may be called, is alien here in the South-East. It is hatched from other regions, especially the core North and exported to other places.
“The youthful groups we have here, be it the IPOB, MASSOB and other pro-Biafran bodies are harmless, peaceful and live harmoniously with the people.
“In the wake of the herdsmen menace, the South Eastern states governments began to establish their respective local security outfits. Today, that initiative has paid off appreciably.
“Kidnapping has become a surprise in the region. We only hear that people are kidnapped elsewhere but certainly not in the area.
“Criminality emanates from idleness. Our people in their usual commercial embellishment are meaningfully engaging themselves one way or the other.”