By Kenechukwu Obiezu
AS South-East Nigeria continues to unravel under the burden of crushing insecurity, a people, many of whom survived the atrocities of the Nigerian Civil War, are being forced to relive the arresting anxieties that were associated with those heady days when a newly independent country deployed the darkest arts to keep the confection of secession away from one of its crucial constituents.
With the benefit of hindsight, and considering the fiery questions which continue to flagellate the Giant of Africa from that part of the country, perhaps, Nigeria would have been better off without a part of it that has obviously been a ‘problem’ part.
For years now, the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPoB, led by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, has successful whipped up the thorny issue of Biafra in the South-East, and with it, a storm of destruction that is finally threatening to rip the South-East apart.
What started as tantrums over the abduction of Nnamdi Kanu in Kenya in 2021 and his subsequent forceful return to Nigeria where he faces terrorism-related charges at the Federal High Court in Abuja, has now let a clan of hyenas into the South-East, one which is far more dangerous than anything the South-East has seen before.
The audacity of the terror now gripping the South-East in its furious claws is utterly alarming, to put it mildly.
Recently, letters listing threats were sent to 10 local government councils in Anambra State. Each of the letters was unmistakably minatory. The letters put Ihiala, Aguata, Nnewi South, Awka North, Awka South, Idemili North, Idemili South, Orumba South, Orumba North and Anambra East Council areas in the cross-hairs of the authors of the letters which warned security operatives in the state to get ready for action in ‘Biafra Land’. The letters also had warnings for the Anambra State Governor. The letters menacingly demanded the release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu from the custody of the Department of State Services.
Between March 17, 2022, when Chukwuma Soludo was sworn into office as governor of Anambra State and May 15, 2022, gunmen razed the secretariats of Nnewi South, Aguata and Idemili North Council areas of Anambra State.
These iniquitous attacks on public buildings in the South-East when put side by side the many innocent persons killed in the region since last year, paint an alarming picture of the degeneration of the security situation in the South-East.
In many ways, what is happening in the South-East is traceable to the activities of the IPOB and its regime of tantrums in the geo-political zone. The enforcement of the sit-at-home order imposed and enforced since Mazi Nnamdi Kanu was arrested precipitated the parlous security situation in the South-East.
To kill the fly, the Federal Government responded by flooding the South-East with soldiers; that is, disproportionately reached for the sledgehammer, thus further inflaming an already tense situation.
The IPOB has since washed its hands off the weekly sit-at-home order, yet it continues to be fully observed and enforced to beg the question of who is enforcing it and who are those turning the South-East into a theatre of blood.
It is completely inconceivable that a region whose defiant entrepreneurial prowess and powers of discovery were on full display as it crawled it’s way back from the utter despair of the immediate post-civil war period should be steeped in such insecurity.
What is even more disturbing is that no one is taking responsibility. It has even been reported that security personnel in the South-East now comply with the sit-at-home order for fear of their lives in addition to going about their duties without their uniforms.
As innocent people in the South-East are cut down every day, fingers continue to be pointed. While government points accusatory fingers over the killings at the IPOB, the IPOB on its part accuses the government of sponsoring those turning the South-East into a war zone. The killers continue to be conveniently described as unknown gunmen.
The danger with the presence of the IPOB in the South-East was always that its activities would serve to break the fallow ground, as Boko Haram did in the Northeast, thus preparing the way for master criminals to seed terror and chaos. That is seemingly what is playing out in the South-East.
Security operatives in the South-East must now forcefully respond to what has quickly become an existential crisis stoked in the South-East by nameless, faceless and numberless criminals. It should never be the case that people can no longer go about their businesses in any part of Nigeria without fear of being killed or abducted.
Those who attack innocent people and burn down public buildings are criminals and nothing more. Unless they are rooted out of Nigeria and quickly too, Nigerians will continue to dance to the drumbeats of death and destruction.
Obiezu, a commentator on public issues, wrote via: [email protected]