…As Archibishop Obinna tackles S-East govs
By Anayo Okoli, Vincent Ujumadu, Chidi Nkwopara, Peter Okutu & Chinonso Alozie
In a bid to strengthen the security architecture in South Eastern states of Nigeria in the midst of looming security threat, the Houses of Assembly of the five states that make up the South East geopolitical zone have commenced the process of enacting laws in line with the proposed South East Joint security programme.
Recall that the South East governors have been under severe pressure and criticism from Ndigbo at home and in the Diaspora for not floating a regional security outfit following the emergence of Amotekun floated by the South West governors.
In their last meeting in Enugu, the South East Governors urged their Houses of Assembly to commence the process of making laws in line with the South East Joint Security programme.
The State House of Assembly said it has commenced work towards enacting a law for the establishment of its local security outfit, Forest Guard just as other states are working on theirs with the aim of a possible harmonization of the laws to form a regional security outfit for the zone.
According to Enugu State House of Assembly Committee chairman on Information, Hon. Jeff Mbah, the law for the establishment of Forest Guards for the State, which is the state’s local security outfit that provides intelligence to the conventional security agencies is in the pipeline.
He said that other states would enact their own laws for their local security outfits with common objective of providing intelligence for the protection of the people and if it is the desire of the people of the zone, the laws could be harmonized to create a central zonal security outfit that would enable them share intelligence among them.
The lawmakers in Anambra State are yet to begin any action to set up a regional security outfit. In spite of the concern of most people in the South East geopolitical zone over the security situation in the area.
However, it is believed that the House members may tinker with the law setting up the Anambra State Vigilante Service, AVS, and frame it in line to be able to harmonize with other security laws from the other states for the proposed regional security outfit.
Apart from few motions condemning attacks whenever they occurred in any part of the state, they were yet to sponsor a bill for the setting up of a security outfit in the mould of the Amotekun in the South West. An official of the House said yesterday: “There has not been any action on the enactment of law for the South East. This may be because the lawmakers are waiting for the governors in the zone to take a stand on the way forward as was done by their counterparts in the South West”.
However, the Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Reverend Paulinus Ezeokafor has called for the establishment of stronger security forces to protect the people in view of the series of attacks and killing of Christians. Ezeokafor said: “Human beings are being slaughtered regularly by terrorists who are suspected to have targeted the Christians. Security of life and property can no longer be guaranteed in Nigeria.”
According to him, the federal government should support the local security apparatus such as the Amotekun (Leopard) operation set up on January 9 this year by the governors of the six states in South West to coordinate the respective security organs.
He lamented what he described as discrepancies between the various local security forces, recalling how two priests of the Catholic Diocese of Awka were kidnapped in Ondo State and were rescued using the Anambra State government’s security apparatus.
In Imo State, the House of Assembly said it has commenced the process of enacting a law that would set a local security outfit for the state and that it will have a common agenda with the other states in the zone of providing security to protect the lives and property of the people of the state.
The House of Assembly Committee Chairman on Information, Dominic Ezerioha who confirmed this explained that the law would be harmonized with others from the other Houses of Assembly in the South-East for the floating of a regional outfit if and when it is decided. Ezerioha who is representing Oru West state constituency, said the process has commenced but that he did not know when it would be concluded. “We have started the process on regional security outfit but I don’t know when we will conclude the process for the regional security outfit Law.”
A member of Ebonyi State House Committee confirmed to Vanguard that the various communities in the state have been directed by the state government to select youths that are capable and qualified to be engaged in the Community Police programme.
It is believed that after the completion of the process of recruitment, the House of Assembly will be approached with a Bill for a law on Community Policing which of course will be in line with the laws of other states and could be harmonized for the formation of a regional outfit.
It was confirmed to Vanguard that Abia State already has in existence, a law that established its popular Abia State Vigilante Service, aka, Bakassi Boys who have been helping in the provision of intelligence to the security agencies in the state for maintenance of security of lives and property.
If need be, the law could be touched to sooth possible harmonization for the establishment of the South East security outfit as may be decided by the governors and other Igbo leaders.
Archibishop Obinna tackles S-East govs
Meantime, the Catholic Archbishop of Owerri, Most Rev. Anthony Obinna has called on the South East governors and Igbo leaders to protect Ndigbo from an imminent threat to wipe them out and take over their homes and lands.
Archbishop Obinna who was obviously making reference to the recent influx of northern youths to the South East states, bemoaned the treatment being meted out to Ndigbo in Nigeria. Lamenting the fate of Ndigbo in Nigeria, Obinna said “in the midst of fear, panic and anxiety caused by the coronavirus pandemic, it is unfortunate, sad and very distressing that our people are being subjected to vicious threats and acts of invasion, massacre and sack from herdsmen from the Northern part of Nigeria”.
According to him, “the hatred against Igbos in Nigeria had already been demonstrated through Nigeria’s brutal war against Igbos who had decided to live on their own as Biafrans away from a Nigeria that has rejected them with so many merciless killings in cold blood. “Not satisfied with defeating us in an uneven war, there is this threat to wipe out the Igbos and take over our God-given homes and lands”.
In an open statement dated June 1, 2020, entitled “Protect our People, defend our homes and lands: a charge to the Imo State Governor and other Igbo leaders”, directed to the South East governors and all Igbo leaders at various levels, Archbishop Obinna warned them against not taking the threat serious.
He said he had already spoken to Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma on the vexed issue, hence the need to extend the conversation to other South- East governors and other Igbo leaders. “Having already spoken to Governor Hope Uzodinma on these threats, I hereby publicly charge him to recognize that it is his primary duty as the chief security officer of Imo State to protect the lives of Imo people, their homes and their lands.
“Your Excellency, your voice should be loud and clear on this life and death issue. I equally charge other Igbo governors and all Igbo leaders at various levels to protect our people, our homes and our lands.
“I urge all our people to rise up in prayers to God, in vigilance and in legitimate self-defence.The right to life, to our homes and to our lands is God-given. May God our Supreme Protector and Defender come to our aid”, the Catholic Archbishop stressed. Archbishop Obinna’s position received the endorsement of prominent Igbo leaders and groups.
According to the elite Igbo organization, Alaigbo Development Foundation, ADF, Obinna’s position is a timely wake-up call which should not be treated with levity. Throwing its support behind the cleric, ADF’s chairman, Bureau of Publicity, Abi Onyike said: “I think that Archbishop Obinna’s wake up call to Igbo leaders is coming at a very critical moment in the life of the Igbo nation.”
Also reacting, the Federal Commissioner, Public Complaints Commission, Imo State, Chief Willie Amadi, said: “The primary responsibility of government is the protection of life and property of her citizens and in its absence, any other effort(s) amounts to sheer stories.”
In his own reaction, a political activist and former Imo State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Chief Vitalis Orikeze Ajumbe, said that the fiery Catholic cleric not only spoke his mind, but also raised issues that are very germaine to the lives of Ndigbo.
“It is most unfortunate that the type of governors we have now in the South East geo-political zone of Nigeria, are being piloted by Abuja, who are the lords of those we are afraid of.”
I remember late Chief Sam Mbakwe and Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, who actually represented the interest of Ndigbo”, Ajumbe said.