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Home » South East Voice » Kudos, knocks greet EbubeAgu, a security outfit set up by South East governors
Kudos, knocks greet EbubeAgu, a security outfit set up by South East governors
• Without community leaders’ input, it will lead nowhere — ASETU
• It’s suspicious — Intersociety
• A welcome development — Ohuabunwa
By Anayo Okoli, Chidi Nkwopara, Ugochukwu Alaribe, Chimaobi Nwaiwu, Chinedu Adonu, Chinonso Alozie, Ikechukwu Odu & Steve Oko
After much pressure, particularly in the last three weeks, the South-East governors last Sunday announced the formation of a regional security outfit, EbubeAgu.
The pressure on the governors to set up the security outfit which has been in the pipeline for over one year, increased last three weeks following ferocious bloody attacks in Uzouwani community in Enugu State and Egedegede community in Ebonyi State where no less than 20 persons were brutally butchered by killer Fulani herdsmen. The outrage that trailed the two incidents was so much that the Vice-President, Prof. Osinbajo had to visit the Ebonyi community.
The two incidents raised tension and put the governors under pressure, especially Governor David Umahi, the chairman of the South-East Governors’ Forum, who incidentally has been treating the Fulani herdsmen with kid gloves, not knowing they have a different agenda for him and his people.
The Ebonyi attack was followed almost immediately by a very deadly attack at the Owerri Correctional Centre, where over 1,800 inmates were freed. The attack was also extended to the State Police Command, all very close to Government House. It was alleged that there was intelligence on the attack and that the Governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodinma, and all the heads of security in the state were informed but they allegedly failed to nip it in the bud.
Meanwhile, about a week before the attacks, a retired Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Celestine Okoye had warned that over 332 forests were already inhabited in the South-East by AK47- wielding killer herdsmen. The damning revelation threw the zone into fear and the call for a regional security network heightened.
The governors have been under fire as a result of insecurity in the zone. They were accused by the people of not taking security serious. So, those attacks by Fulani herdsmen did not surprise anybody. The signs have been there but our leaders, particularly the governors never acted; so the entire blame should in fact, go to them. They behaved as if it were the Fulani that elected them.
Under this condition, the establishment of Ebubeagu was naturally greeted with mixed feelings. While everybody agrees there is the need to set up the security outfit, they also want to have it done very well. Many have pointed to the way and manner Amotekun is being run in the South-West and wondered why their South-East counterparts were afraid to emulate them.
One of the people who criticized the modalities for setting up the outfit is human rights lawyer and former chairman of Electricity Regulatory Board, Sam Amadi. Shortly after the announcement was made, Amadi said: “I have read the communiqué of the South-East Governors’ meeting on security in the region. I am sorry to say that I am not impressed with both the quality of thinking and political will displayed by the document.
“There is so much hesitation, hedging and prevarication. What does it mean to say open grazing has been banned in the region and security agencies should implement it? Who banned it? Which law? Don’t you see how Benue banned it? By enacting a law that makes it a crime to graze openly and create an agency or commission to monitor and enforce? Where is the law?
“This communiqué is almost nonsensical. Apart from committing to the Federal Government’s failing policy on security, what else did it say? There is henceforth “Ebubeagu” headquartered in Enugu to unify all nondescript vigilante and security
agencies in the South-East. Is that how Amotekun was birthed? That the IGP should stop sending IGP Monitoring Group and allow CPs to manage security. Is that the expected big ideas we are waiting for?
“Sadly, everyday, these governors prove IPOB right to say ESN is our only hope. I don’t want ESN. I wanted a state-regulated but effective security outfit and structure that will make it impossible for communities to be attacked like in Ebonyi.
But it looks like we are condemned to ESN as long as these governors are in charge. I was already rejoicing that Ebubeagu has come to protect the South-East so there will be no need for a private security outfit like ESN. Now, I have read the communiqué and hereby withdraw my excitement. The South-East governors are not out of the wood. They are still in a mental block. Sad.”
Also, a leading rights group, Intersociety, said the formation of the outfit was suspicious, due to “the panicky and hurried announcement.”
“Coming when all hopes have been lost from state actor angles, forcing most citizens of the region to place their hopes, expectations and solutions on the table of non- state actors; we are very surprised to hear the sudden announcement. “Intersociety also doubts the sincerity and genuineness of the promoters of the new security outfit.
It is doubtful, too, whether critical indigenous stakeholders and other interest groups were duly consulted and carried along. The new outfit is most likely a baptism name given to the 2019 illegitimate and unpopular Community Policing arrangement by the same South-East governors during which all the security chiefs that attended the meeting where the decision to use Community Policing to checkmate the menace of Jihadist Fulani herdsmen in the South-East Region were made up of officers of Fulani-Hausa Muslim background.
“We, therefore, have strong reason to suspect and conclude that the South-East governos’ newly created security outfit, tagged Ebubeagu Security Outfit, is a caliphate-inspired counter measure to truncate or weaken non- state actor arrangements including vigilante and vigilantism resort to legitimate self-defense safeguards provided in Section 258 of the Criminal Code and Section 59-60 of the Penal Code (operational in the Igbo parts of Benue and Kogi states).
“The latest moves by the South-East governors are also likely geared towards using the so-called Ebubeagu Security Outfit to protect and consolidate the Jihadist Fulani herdsmen incursions and settlements in bushes, forests and farmlands in the South-East Region and its outposts in Benue, Kogi, Rivers, Cross River, Delta and Edo states.
The name, Ebubeagu, as a matter of fact, is meaningless, a camouflage especially when the Nigerian Army has used similar camouflages like Egwu-Eke and Atilogwu Udo, to massacre over 700 unarmed and defenseless citizens of the region and maim over 800 others and engage in other atrocious conducts including roadblocks and corrupt practices. “Also, today in Igboland, the Ogbu-Agu title given to Retired Major-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari has turned out to be “a killer-licence (translated as lion killer ).
“The outfit can never operate successfully in the South-East Region where almost 100 per cent of top security, especially military and police formations, are in the hands of officers from other regions, most of whom are Muslims of Fulani-Hausa extraction.
“It is impossible to find any region in Nigeria where 10 per cent of its top security formations are commanded by officers of Igbo Christian stock, not to talk of dominating or controlling their majority or over 98 per cent as presently the case in Igbo South-East Region.”
Intersociety spoke through its chairman, Comrade Emeka Umeagbalasi.
Elite Igbo group, Alaigbo Development Foundation, ADF, on its own welcomed the development but demanded for preparedness of the governors to ensure its take off.
ADF also demanded a law by each state to back up the ban on open grazing.
Its spokesman, Chief Abia Onyike said: “Well, they have pronounced on the Regional Security outfit. There should be a law banning open grazing of cattle in the the South-East. The law should be passed in the five states Houses of Assembly. To orally make an announcement banning open grazing shows lack of commitment on the part of the governors. They are being smart.
“Again, we will like to know their logistic preparations. Where are their vehicles and other operational facilities and equipment like in the case of Amotekun in Yoruba land?
“Let the South-East governors go and use the draft bill prepared by ADF in 2017 to make binding laws against open grazing. If they fail to do that, then it exposes them further as unserious people.”
Reacting, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa commended the governors for setting up the outfit but urged them to back it with a law from their lawmakers.
Ohuabunwa, former Leader, House of Representatives, believes the move would curb the growing insecurity in the zone.
According to him: “the courage and the unity of the governors in establishing the outfit were strong indications that the security of the zone is paramount to the governors.”
The action of the governors, he said, was in response to the growing clamour for a regional security outfit to help contain the activities of terrorists rampaging the zone and expressed confidence that the outfit would, in collaboration with other security agencies, help unmask and checkmate the elements behind the rising insecurity in the zone.
He, therefore, tasked the various State Houses of Assembly in the zone to quickly provide the necessary legal backing for the outfit.
However, a civil rights leader, Jonah said the arrangements were not clear. “First of all, who are to be recruited into the outfit? Will they be given AK47 to combat Fulani herdsmen parading AK47 and JPGs? Which weapon will they be using? Will they be reporting to IPOB, ESN or Nigeria Police, Nigerian Military, DSS, EFCC, Immigration or who?
“All Igbo should support to the maximum, IPOB or ESN which is the only security outfit that can save and deliver Igbo from the hands of Buhari, the generalissimo of Islamic Sharia laws,” he said.
For Chief Ozoh Anaekwe, Ebubeagu is dead on arrival. According to him, it will not impact on South-East. He said the governors only want to use it to scuttle the good work the Eastern Security Network, ESN, is doing in the South-East forests.
“I am very surprised about the belated and sudden action of South-East governors, coming up with Ebubeagu security outfit, when ESN has taken over security in South-East forests and guarding them well, and people are expecting them to extend their services to the urban areas.
“If the governors are sincere, they would have supported the ESN to also extend their security activities to the environment where people are living, what happened in Ebonyi, Enugu and Owerri would have been averted if ESN is operating in urban areas and cities.
The governors of the South-East are a bunch of jokers, recruiting South-East youths without training and guns is like asking them to go and commit suicide against the Fulani herdsmen carrying AK47 and backed by military that has been shielding and protecting them.
“I’m very surprised that the South-East governors are recruiting South-East youths to go and confront the ESN, who are challenging the killer herdsmen, suspected to be Fulanis and Nigerian soldiers supporting them, with all their armament.
“They are recruiting untrained South-East youths without guns to go and confront the people wielding sophisticated weapons, the South-East governors want to reduce the population of the youths in the South-East to impress their masters they have been working for in Abuja, for whom they refused to set up the security outfit for the people when we needed it most and called for it, before IPOB responded with ESN.
“For me, they are recruiting people who will go and fight against ESN, or the people who will help them for political campaign, or they want to please the powers they have been worshiping in Abuja.
“Setting up Ebubeagu without training the youths and equipping them is like asking them to go and commit suicide against the killer herdsmen and the military who are not doing what they are supposed to be doing in the South- East, rather, they are shielding and protecting the killer herdsmen.
“To recruit South-East youths to go and confront the unknown gunmen, Fulani herdsmen and the military supporting them, is a suicide mission because once they confront killer herdsmen, the military shielding and protecting them will come after the Ebubeagu outfit that will be made up of South-East youths.
The South-East governors should be held responsible for any loss of lives of South-East youths by their parents. If you will remember, a former Inspector- General of Police, in 2019 disarmed all the vigilante groups in the South-East, the governors did not protest, they did not complain, where are those Pump Action guns and Dane guns taken from the vigilante men in the South-East which they were using to guard our communities, where will they get the guns for Ebubeagu outfit?
“That Ebubeagu Security outfit is dead on arrival because it was ill-conceived, formed in a hurry and to impress their masters in Abuja and not to give South- East security which ESN is already giving the people in the communities. If they are allowed to extend their services to urban areas, they will equally provide security to the people.
“Ebubeagu Security outfit will never make the South-East governors popular, but rather unpopular, their intention is to sabotage what ESN is doing now in the region, but they do not know that 95 per cent of the people of South-East are supporting ESN, so you can sabotage where you have people following you; the incumbent South-East governors have no followers in the South- East. They are losing their popularity on daily basis by attacking IPOB and ESN.
“A good leader listens to his subjects, but the present governors are listening to their Abuja masters instead of the people of the South-East. What prevented them from coming up with the security outfit before now? Initially, they told us Ogbunigwe and now they are telling us Ebubeagu, but we know they are not serious, they are playing their normal politics.”
Again, many Igbo questioned how the governors want to reconcile points 14 and 15 of their communiqué which said that open grazing has been banned and security agency should implement the ban and at the same time insisted that farmers and headers should be encouraged to peacefully coexist to allow governors to succeed in the fight against criminality. This issue was discussed in a number of radio stations, where people said they could not understand the position of the governors. They questioned how one can still coexist with his killer.
The Igbo grassroots body, Association of South-East Town Unions, ASETU, also had issues with the way the governos set up the outfit.
They said that any security outfit without involving community leaders will not work. ASETU also insisted on having anti-open grazing law backed by law in the region.
“The creation of Ebubeagu security network, which on the authority of the statement by the South-East governors, will oversee the activities of the vigilantes, it is worrisome that the Town Unions which have had the natural mandate of creating and funding the various community vigilantes, were not carried along in the process leading to this formation. Security is a local affair.
“We have severally advocated for indigenous and autonomous security architecture for the South-East, but if the creation of Ebubeagu is done at any rate without the involvement of the community leaders, the result will not be different from the failed security system that Nigeria today has.”
Diwe further said that “the carnage and destruction of livelihoods wrought on our people by Fulani herdsmen cannot be tolerated any further. This is the reason that for three years, we have severally written the governors and the Houses of Assembly in the South-East. We also convoked a security summit in 2018 at Enugu, a security retreat at Abakaliki in 2019 and yet another security retreat at Enugu in 2020. It is therefore quite relieving that the governors in the zone are standing up to the menace of herdsmen.
“However, we insist that mere verbal proscription of open-grazing is not sufficient in the face of this nightmarish reality. More concrete steps must therefore be taken to stem the reprehensible and gruesome activities of the herdsmen in our land.
“As a result, we restate our demand that there is an overriding necessity for anti-open grazing laws in the South-East. They should immediately be enacted by the various State Houses of Assembly in the South-East. Such laws, as we have since conceptualized, would address the inadequacies of a verbal proclamation by defining enforceable frameworks that take cognizance of appropriate punishment to defaulters, restitution to victims and restoration of losses. As a corollary to that, a security outfit, known as Livestock Guards needs to be created by law to implement the provisions of the anti-open grazing legislations.”
However, those supporting the governors are calling for calm, saying that they would get it right. The problem also remains that no date has been fixed for the take-off of the outfit.
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