…Investigate Ebonyi killings, Senate urges Ag IGP, security agencies
…Join forces to secure Igbo land, Ohanaeze tasks ESN
By Anayo Okoli & Ugochukwu Alaribe
South East governors yesterday, vowed to resist attempt by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, to frustrate its new security network, code-named Ebube Agu.
This came as the Senate also yesterday called on the Acting Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, to carry out a comprehensive investigation into the killings and kidnapping of citizens in Ebonyi State by alleged herdsmen.
Similarly, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, tasked the Eastern Security Network to join forces with EbubeAgu to protect Igbo land against killer herdsmen.
IPOB had in a statement signed by the Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, Tuesday, warned Igbo youths against being members of the new security network, threatening to deal ruthlessly with anyone that might serve as a spy on its activities for Ebube Agu.
”South East governors set up outfit, Ebube Agu, probably to fulfill all righteousness or to spy on ESN to curry favour from their slave masters. We, therefore, warn our youths to have nothing to do with the so-called Ebube Agu security outfit which was ostensibly formed to sabotage IPOB and ESN.
”Anyone who neglects this warning and thinks he can hide under the cloak of Ebube Agu to spy on ESN should be prepared to join his ancestors. The protection of all Biafrans is our priority and we are prepared to sacrifice anything to achieve this,” IPOB had said in the statement.
But speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, yesterday, chairman of South East Governors Forum and governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, said the Eastern Security Network, ESN, set up by IPOB was an illegal entity which the governors would not want to lose sleep over.
He said: “The problem of this country is that people will leave their problems and make your problem their problem.
”But what some of these people are doing is to incite the South-East into war and step aside, and we are not going to buy into that; we’re not going to be deceived again.”
He said Ebube Agu was created primarily to protect lives and properties in the South East.
The governor explained that Ebube Agu was set up in compliance with the constitution, adding that what had happened was an amendment of the laws of each of the five South East states to enable operatives of existing vigilante groups in the states operate across borders to track down criminals, while also sharing intelligence.
”Operatives of Ebube Agu have been operating in the South East as Forest Guards, Neighbourhood Watch before now. These have only fused together as Ebube Agu for members to share intelligence and go across borders to track down criminals,” he said.
Umahi, who noted that the new security network had taken off already, said the governors had taken Ebube Agu as priority, adding that without security, there could be no talk about fixing education, health, among others.
The governor also said bandits were committing crimes in the South-East under the guise of Eastern Security Network, ESN, but insisted that governors of the region would not allow what he described as illegality to reign in the area.
“Of late, we have bandits that are now doing a lot of evil and saying that they are Eastern Security Network, ESN. They commit a lot of crimes and say they are IPOB and most of the time, IPOB will come and say ‘we have no hands in this, we have no hands in that.”
While admitting that the development made it a bit complex in fighting crime, the governor vowed that leaders of the region would not allow criminals to have a field day in the area, stressing that Ebube Agu would tackle insecurity in Igboland.
“We have the command of the law to protect the lives of our people and we would not allow illegality to thrive in our land. Conflict will not resolve conflict,” he said.
The governor noted that herders-farmers clashes were not the only threat facing the region, noting that the new security outfit was created to flush out crimes of all forms in the South-East.
Investigate Ebonyi killings, Senate urges Ag IGP, security agencies
The upper chamber made the call amid resolutions reached, sequel to the consideration of a motion brought to the floor by Senator Sam Egwu (PDP, Ebonyi North) during plenary yesterday.
Coming under order 42 and 52 of the Senate Rules, Egwu, in the motion titled: “Urgent need for the federal government’s intervention to end the serial killing of innocent and defenseless citizens in Ebonyi State by alleged herdsmen”, bemoaned the general state of insecurity in the country.
He expressed concern that, “the killing, maiming, kidnapping and wanton destruction of lives and property by herdsmen have now become the daily experience of citizens of innocent and defenseless people of Ebonyi State who are murdered in their numbers almost on weekly basis.
“Aware that on 30th day of March, 2021, over 18 indigenes of Egedege, Obehi and Amuzu communities in Ishielu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, including a priest, were gruesomely murdered in cold blood by rampaging herdsmen.
“Alarmed that on Monday, the 12th day of April, 2021, alleged herdsmen/Agila people again invaded Otuebu, Igidi Obu and Ndiagu Ibe-Agba villages in Umuogudu Akpu community, Ohaukwu LGA of Ebonyi State and gruesomely killed over 12 innocent indigenes, burnt/destroyed over 56 houses and kidnapped five persons.
“Concerned that if the federal government does not intervene urgently, these wicked and senseless killings, kidnapping and destruction of property may continue, thereby subjecting Ebonyians and other citizens in Ebonyi State to severe hardship and terrific fear”, Senator Egwu said.
In his contribution, Senator Chukwuka Utazi (PDP, Enugu North) advocated for inter-agency interventions that would put a halt to herder killings across the country.
He said: “The most important part of our time spent here has always been about reportage of killings of our people in the hands of herdsmen.
“Mr. President, this is becoming very worrisome, that in a country which is under the rule of law, issues of these nature keep repeating themselves on a daily basis.
“Mr. President, I’m begging that, in order to solve this herder issue, we should make out time to have inter-agency meetings to sit down and see how we can return to these rules of engagement that can allow us do business without hindrance. With that, I say Mr. President, that something urgent has to be done.”
On his part, Senator Michael Nnachi (PDP, Ebonyi South) lamented the number of lives lost to communal clashes between communities and herdsmen killings.
According to him, the ceaseless killings had made citizens in Ebonyi State to live in fear of being attacked by herdsmen.
“As I’m talking to you, I got a call that nobody slept at Abakaliki in fear of the herdsmen attacking them last night, because they got signal that they were around. All of them ran into their houses.
“Mr. President, not to say much, the motion as heavily moved by Senator Egwu is heart-beating. I support this motion whole-heartedly that something must be done to safeguard the lives of the people.
“In less than three weeks, over thirty-three people were killed by herdsmen; over seven hundred people killed by communal clashes between Benue, Effium and Ezza – which is part of Benue and Ebonyi.”
The Senate, accordingly, while observing a minute silence in honour of those killed by alleged herdsmen, condemned in the strongest terms the various attacks on communities in Ebonyi State which led to the destruction of lives and property.
The upper chamber, while urging the federal government and Ebonyi State government to put appropriate measures in place to forestall further attacks, requested the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to immediately intervene through the provision of relief materials to the families of the victims and displaced persons in the affected communities.
It also directed the Nigerian Police and other relevant security agencies to carry out comprehensive investigation of these dastardly attacks and promptly arrest and prosecute the perpetrators as well as rescue kidnap victims still held captive.
Join forces to Secure Igbo land, Ohanaeze tasks ESN
The Engr. Chidi Ibeh faction of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, said yesterday that the group supports all security arrangements that will curb the nefarious activities and violent killings in the South East by killer herdsmen and other criminals.
The group urged the Eastern Security Network to understand that they were fighting a common enemy in killer herdsmen and must eschew bitterness between themselves.
“We accept both the Ebubeagu Security Network, ESN, and the Eastern Security Network, ESN, as both were designed for the territorial security of South East and should be supported by every Igbo. It’s a blessing in disguise that South East has two security networks against a common enemy, the killer herdsmen/terrorists.
“We are aware of the desperation exhibited by Igbo detractors trying to foist crisis, distrust and egocentric tussles between IPOB’s Eastern Security Network and the South East Governors’ Ebubeagu Security Network for their inordinate activities to create political tensions and panic in the South East.”
Congratulating both the South East Governors and IPOB on the efforts to forestall further killings and violence in the South East, Ohanaeze pledged to enforce understandings and harmony among stakeholders in the South East by deepening consciousness and alertness on the need for peaceful coexistence between ESN and Ebubeagu in defending the territorial integrity of the South East.
“Security is local; every Igbo should understand the perilous situation Ndigbo are in at the moment. Ndigbo will not tolerate any rivalry between ESN and Ebubeagu Security Network; they must unite as sister organizations aimed towards solving insecurity challenges in the South East. Ndigbo should support both groups; there should be synergy with all security formations in the South East to end banditry.”