CONTRARY to fears that the Muhammadu Buhari administration was set to declare an all-out, genocidal war in the South East, the security forces appear to have applied a less kinetic approach which is reducing the high-level insecurity in the geopolitical zone.
In June, the president had raised tensions when he granted a rare interview to Arise TV and reiterated same on a contentious Twitter post, saying: “Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Nigerian Civil War. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand”.
Twitter had deleted the post and later suspended Buhari’s handle, which led to the Federal Government’s ban of the microblog site in Nigeria.
The president’s tough words came on the heels of months of relentless attacks by unidentified gunmen on security personnel and federal institutions in the South East and parts of the South-South.
Also, the Eastern Security Network, ESN, formed by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, was very active against killer herdsmen who occupied forests and were destroying farms and killing farmers with intent to take over their lands.
After the massive military deployments to the zone, the situation has considerably mellowed. This was made possible because of a measure of engagements between the armed forces and the state governments and communities. The President General of Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo, Prof. George Obiozor, recently praised the Army for leading the efforts to contain insecurity in the zone when the GOC of 82 Div, Major General Taoreed Lagbaja, visited him.
While we note with delight that activities of the hoodlums – the so-called unknown gunmen – have dropped drastically, we warn that the suspicious spate of beheadings are still going on. This manner of killing which is a trademark of Jihadists must be investigated and those perpetrating it apprehended.
We also call the attention of the armed forces and police to allegations that thousands of innocent young men (and sometimes women) are still being pulled from their homes at night and either extra-judicially killed or sent to detention.
The search for the “unknown gunmen” and ESN operatives must be professionally done. The armed forces must work to gain the goodwill of the people and avoid being seen as agents of a tribal expansionist agenda.
They must also go after the militants in the forests killing at will not only in the South East but also throughout the South, Benue, Plateau and Southern Kaduna.
These were the original harbingers of the insecurity which led to the formation of self-defence groups such as the ESN, Amotekun Corps and others.
The armed forces must be patriotic and aim to win the people’s support.
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