…Assure S-East won’t secede
…95% of killed police officers in S-East are Igbos
… EbubeAgu not after NASS members, but criminals — Ebonyi govt
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Peter Okutu
GOVERNORS of the five states of South East have appealed to the youths of the zone agitating over the alleged marginalization of the area by the Federal Government to come up with their demands and give them (governors) six months to dialogue with the federal government with a view to resolving their grievances.
The governors have also pleaded with the angry youths of the zone to sheathe their swords and stop attacking police stations, lamenting that over 95 percent of police officers killed by the unknown gun men were people from southeast.
Chairman of the South East Governors Forum and governor of Ebonyi State, Engr. Dave Umahi, disclosed this yesterday while featuring on the Presidential Ministerial Press Briefing organized by the Presidential Communications Team at the presidential villa, Abuja.
He pointed out that past governments failed to properly deal with the issue of marginalization, giving rise to the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and later, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
But he assured that the region will not secede from the country.
According to him, “Let me say that I am very delighted to be here, to interact with you on key burning national issues especially as they concern South East and also my state (Ebonyi) in particular. Let me start with security at the level of South East. The security situation in the South East is a mixture of realities, fake news and war propaganda.
“But do we have insecurity in the South East? Yes we do. And when we look at the IPOB in total isolation, the issue of agitation started with Ralph Uwazuruike and of course, even before Uwazuruike our late Odimegwu Ojukwu, war was fought in this regard and it was declared at the level of national governments of no victor, no vanquish.
“I think after some years, Uwazuruike came up with MASSOB and started with a couple of agitations and the key background of this agitation, has always been marginalization of the South East, which I had to say in specific terms are in the national civil service where the southeast people are not promoted like their counterparts from other regions; where development is not happening in South East; where appointments are skewed against South East. And it must be on record that Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of IPOB was a member of that MASSOB, I think he was the second in command.
“But let me place it on record, that MASSOB was there during the regime of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and shortly before the end of the regime, Kanu pulled out and formed his own IPOB. IPOB was there during the time of former President Goodluck Jonathan. And then they expanded their demands.
“I had intervened by way of holding meeting personally with Kanu in my state and intervened by way of holding meeting with all the commanders and that was before the altercation they had with Kanu at Abia State and we were going to find solutions before things escalated.
“Now, the ESN is also a product of IPOB. You can see how these things are being multiplied but the point remains that from the onset of MASSOB, the then government did not address the matters properly because when your children cry for any reason, you have to find out what is the problem, what are the reasons and you fix it.
“I think those people were so badly ignored and that shouldn’t have been. And so, what is happening today with regard to IPOB in the South East is not a product of this government per se, but it is a product of national governments that didn’t address the matters from the outset.
“ESN is also a child of necessity. We have been living with herders for hundreds of years with minor misunderstandings, you spoil my farm you pay some compensation, I kill your cow, I pay compensation. Nobody was hearing all that, it was an in-house thing. But with the crisis in Libya and some other West African countries, foreign herders with AK 47 infiltrated the entire country and so, you begin to see the foreign herders killing our farmers, raping our women.
“And these foreign herders are in the forests, beyond the control of any state governments and security agencies. And suddenly, the IPOB said look, we have formed Eastern Security Network to protect the farmers. Unfortunately, their abode is in the forest; the abode of the herders is also in the forest, and so what do we expect? A very high level of insecurity within such locations.
“And so, the situation in the South East right now is a situation in which non violent approach of IPOB at the beginning has been hijacked by bandits, by cultists, by criminals. Why do I say this? A lot of violence that happen in South East now, the IPOB people will come and say we are not violent, we are not the people killing the security agents, if you get any of such you have to decisively deal with such people. So it’s very confusing. Who and who are behind this insecurity in South East?
“What I will not deceive myself is to agree with anybody to say that foreign mercenaries have infiltrated southeast. It’s war propaganda. We are the ones killing ourselves; we are the ones burning down our police stations. And so, we don’t deceive ourselves if we want the problem to be solved.
“Are there rightful agitations? Yes? Has it turned violent? Yes, it’s been hijacked and that is the truth about the situation in the South East today. And so, the governors of South East appear to be unpopular with a very small section of the South East. Why? Because we refused to toe their own way of doing things and their way of doing things is war and we don’t want to secede, we want to belong to Nigeria, a fair Nigeria where justice, equity and freedom are the platform upon which we exist as the people and for each of the regions.
“And so we don’t want the herders to be killed because we also have our people scattered in all the regions and we don’t want the herders to violate the cultural values and laws of the land. So, it is peace that the South East governors have been preaching. And Ebube Agu that is frightening some people especially politicians in South East is nothing but a translation of our vigilante which we have always had and which is backed up by law.
“But Ebube Agu is a kind of regional security cooperation; it is a change of name. In my state, we have signed our Ebube Agu into law and it has come to stay. And it is to protect the people. Once you are not a criminal, you are safe in my state but no matter what name you bear whether you are banned or unbanned and you are causing trouble in South East, Ebube Agu will address that together with security agencies.
“And so, I have offered along with governors to our youths to present your demands in prints and hand over to us. There’s no region in this country today, that does not have one thing or the other against the federal government. But we cannot sit down to discuss and that’s what we are demanding from our youth whether banned or unbanned so far you’re from southeast.
“Let us see your demands, let us see your grievances and give us six months to engage the federal government to address all these because we believe in dialogue. I believe that we can sit down as a people to discuss and find our differences and we can learn differences and also we can together discuss how we can strengthen our operation as a people.
“Let’s go back to our traditional method of relationship. We will no longer allow you to take your cattle from one local government to the other. And the implication is that these foreign herders also come as mobile herders with AK-47 and so, that is the source of conflicts.
“So, anyone that is saying that there should be no ban is on the other hand saying that these killings should continue and that is what has birthed the ESN.Whether we support it as governors or we don’t, the people tend to support it because of the foreign herders pretending that they are rearing cattle and they are killing people.
“In my village, a white man handling construction was kidnapped. So, what the southern governors are saying is, let’s return to our traditional kind of relationship. I don’t support cattle to move from one state to the other. Let us encourage the federal government, let’s treat this cattle rearing as a business. Take money from federation account and develop ranches, there are designated ranches in the north.
“The northern governors are willing but are being frustrated. I know once you develop these ranches in the north, a lot of movement will stop in the south. We want to live in peace, we want to live as brothers and sisters. And if the right hand will cause you to sin, cut it off. It is the same thing as saying, let the cattle moving from one point to the other be stopped.
“Nobody is saying the herders should not be in the southeast but it should be treated as a business. When people go to other areas, they buy a land, they rent a shop, that is how business is done. You don’t enter people’s land without their knowledge. It is not done anywhere.
“I don’t think there is any South East person that enters any region and sets up a business without proper permission. So, that is the truth about the open grazing thing. I think people misunderstand it. They don’t really understand what we mean”.
EbubeAgu not after NASS members, but criminals —Ebonyi Govt
Umahi has also dismissed as unfortunate, the statements credited to National Assembly members of Ebonyi extraction over issues bordering on insecurity in the state
In a statement by the Commissioner for Information and State Orientation, Barr. Orji Uchenna Orji, titled: “The need for PDP National Assembly members from Ebonyi State to show responsibility to their people and stop spreading falsehood”, the state government “urged the public to discountenance their claims as nothing but a continuation of the consummation of their serial media attacks on the performing administration of Governor David Umahi”.
Continuing, the Commissioner for Information added that: “We have tracked and dissected the letters and spirit of the press briefing of a group of PDP National Assembly members anchored by Sen. Sam Ominyi Egwu and issued in Abuja on 18th day of May, 2021.
“We wish to dismiss the publication credited to them as ridiculous, seditious, baseless, absolutely unfounded, utterly irresponsible and gravely senseless, more so as it is most regrettably coming from people who claim to represent their state in the National Assembly.
“We urge the public to discountenance their claims as nothing but a continuation of the consummation of their serial media attacks on the performing administration of Engr. David Nweze Umahi, and whose objective is to diminish the celebrated leadership hallmarks of our dear Governor and slow down the tempo of his accomplishments. But they will not succeed by the power of God.
“We are not surprised that Senator Sam Ominyi Egwu and his group could be so carelessly petty and partially cheap in their falsehood that they could associate Ebonyi youths and the Ebubeagu Security Outfit with allegations of cultism and armed criminalities, just to reap negative sentiments from the gullible on the security situation in the state.
“The people of Ebonyi State are rather disappointed in this shameful display of unrepentant urge by Sen. Egwu and his group in Abuja to paint Ebonyi State negatively, to satisfy their political motives. It is even saddening that the group which never showed any concern to the various security challenges that faced the state recently will only dissipate energy and resources in concocting all forms of lies against the government that has made tremendous progress in stemming the tide of insecurity in the state.
“Ebonyi State and her people are on the side of peace. We therefore admonish our sons who represent the state in the National Assembly under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to flash back on the agony suffered by the state between 2001 and 2003 in the regime of Senator Sam Ominyi Egwu as Governor of Ebonyi State and Senator Pius Anyim Pius as the Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the unprecedented setback orchestrated by the needless political violence and bloodshed that characterized their feud and please stay away from fanning embers of crisis through their unguided utterances and nocturnal plots.
“God has given them a second chance to seek the face of God for the human lives wasted in their time and to make peace with their people and not to lead a group to destroy the image of the state and reintroduce ‘Abuja group’ mayhem.
“It is true that the PDP National Assembly members in the state are frustrated by their complete rejection by their constituents, but that should not be a reason to throw conscience to the winds to level unthinkable falsehood against an administration that has excelled in the compassionate delivery of transparent and God-fearing governance that is based on integrity and dignity.”
“We urge the PDP National Assembly members from Ebonyi State to come home and identify with the concerns and efforts of the government and the people in building a crime free and a prosperous state which our dear Governor has fast-tracked to the admiration of all. The days of reckoning are near.”