…..We’re about to start vigilante group – Imo govt
…..Other states should emulate us – Anambra
Abuja – Governors of the Southeast states have come under severe criticism for failing to actualise Ebubeagu, a security outfit they mooted to tackle insecurity in the region.
The governors of the five Southeast states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo in April unveiled the new security outfit to address the deteriorating security situation in the region.
A communique issued at the end of the meeting held in Owerri, the Imo State capital, read in part: “That to fast track crime-busting in the Southeast, the heads of security agencies have been mandated to draw up a comprehensive list of their logistics and material needs for sustainable success in the fight against criminality, for the immediate provision by the leadership of the Southeast.
‘That a committee made up of security personnel, government officials and relevant stakeholders be set up to coordinate and monitor the implementation of the Southeast joint security platform.
“The meeting resolved to maintain a joint security vigilante for the Southeast, otherwise known as Ebubeagu.”
Four months after the announcement was made, four of the states are yet to begin the process of floating the security outfit. Ebonyi remains the only state that has established the outfit.
The Executive Director of Igbo National Movement (INM), Barrister Anthony Okolo, said only the Southeast governors and state assemblies were in a better position to tell Ndigbo why the security outfit has not been implemented months after the governor met and approved of the project.
He believed that the governors do not have the political will to make Ebubeagu a reality.
He said: “Only the state governors and the state assemblies can tell Ndigbo why this urgently needed element for the security of Alaigbo has not been implemented. To those of us on the outside, it seems that the political will to make Ebubeagu a reality is not there.
Many of these governors fear the potential of clashes with these herdsmen who seem to have the approval and protection of the federal armed forces. To have a security outfit challenge the bandits will likely lead to a conflagration between the state security forces and the federal forces, and we all know what that will mean for security in Alaigbo.”
However, he said that the governors need to be brave and focus on the needs of the people rather than succumb to the whims and caprices of the Federal Government. “They need to focus on the cries and need of the people rather than the perceived fear of slighting the Federal Government.
“We believe that the FG is not completely devoid of common sense no matter how brazen they may seem in support of Fulani militia.
“In the face of real opposition by a legally formed and constituted state security outfit which is not allowed to use deadly force, the militia will be forced to withdraw or draw condemnation for the murder of established security personnel if they continue their forays into Alaigbo.
“We need the governors and the state assemblies to wake up and move quickly to protect the lives of our people from internal and external threats. It is this gap that is allowing even local miscreants to cause all sorts of mayhem in Alaigbo. This must be stopped and the states in Alaigbo must wake up to their responsibility to do so,” he stated
Also, President General of Coalition of South East Youths Leaders (COSEYL), Goodluck Ibem, said that it was unfortunate that the Southeast governors saddled with the responsibility of providing security for the citizenry have abandoned their constitutional role.
”It is very unfortunate that Southeast governors who are saddled with the responsibility of providing security and welfare for their citizens have abandoned their primary responsibility which they swore with the constitution and the Bible to uphold.
‘The Southeast governors formed Ebubeagu as a security outfit to provide security in the zone, but why it has not kicked off is funding. After the announcement of the formation of the security outfit, Maj-Gen Umahi was appointed to head the outfit, but no money was given to him to start its operations as agreed and he had to resign his appointment.
“There was really no sincerity on the part of governors in the region to work as a team on security. Some of the governors are now telling us that they have Ebubeagu or vigilante outfits in their various states to help on security matters.
“However, working as a team would have been the best option in securing the zone.
The security implication for the zone is that there will be no synergy among the five Southeast states. The states can’t share information, intelligence or strategy as each state will operate in isolation.”
Commenting on the issue, the President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in Imo State, Ambassador Agunna Akpuelu, said the Southeast governors began the Ebubeagu project without planning or laying a solid foundation.
“Anybody can say anything. It is just like somebody would say I will build a house in two months time. It is very sweet to hear and motivating. You know that if one fails to plan, he has already planned to fail.
“Ebubeagu is a security outfit, and when somebody is going into establishing a security outfit, he should know the level of foundation of such outfit before he goes in, because if you go in without proper foundation, it shall assume the person is taking a suicidal mission. That is the case with Southeast governors and Ebubeagu.”
Adding his voice, a human resources consultant, Hon. Austin Nnodim, described security in the Southeast as a complex and hydra-headed problem, noting that it might be a major reason why it has overwhelmed the governors.
Nnodim said: “Personally, I think the situation in the Southeast, especially when it comes to security, is complex and hydraheaded. Maybe that is why the situation appears to have overwhelmed the governors of the Southeast.
“A situation whereby a security organisation like Ebubeagu is passed into law by member states should have gone a long way in strengthening the security of the zone. Now the governors have lagged behind in this aspect by not making sufficient effort to enact the law establishing the Ebubeagu security structure, maybe because of fear of the unknown as the Eastern Security Network ESN/IPOB appears to be taking more control of the system than the governors themselves.
“For example, if ESN/IPOB gives an order for stay at home, the Eastern populace appears to be obeying them more than the government order for people to go about their business. This is a clear indication that ESN/IPOB is having the upper hand in the security of the Southeast.”
He advised the Eastern states’ governors to leave up to their constitutional duties of protecting the lives and property of the citizenry by making sure that the security apparatus is put in place and constitutionally too.
This, he said, would enhance and instill confidence in the people as a first term measure.
He also said they should target the recruitment of at least 10 people from each ward and an average of 120 people from each local government for cost effective measures.
On the recruitment exercise, he advised that the governor should target more of ex-service men, especially ex-commissioned officers who would be responsible enough to handle intelligence and proffer solutions to the governments.
“It will also reduce the pressure mounted on the state governors by providing employment opportunities through the security and yield positive result to the security in the South East,” he said.
One of the foremost civil rights groups in Nigeria, Transform Nigeria Movement (TNM), says the Ebubeagu security outfit is not working in the zone because the governors did not plan it well.
Besides, the group is of the opinion that the apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, was in alliance with some governors to sabotage the Ebubeagu Security Network for selfish reasons.
The Anambra State coordinator of the group, Comrade Obi Ochije, told The Nation yesterday that the security outfit operated like an orphan.
Ochije said some of the Southeast governors were dancing on their own on the issue of Ebubeagu, which, according to him, had made the outfit redundant
Residents of Aba, the commercial nerve centre of Abia State, and their Umuahia counterparts berated the governor Abia State and his Southeast counterparts over their inability to ensure the take-off of Ebubeagu security outfit in the region as they had earlier informed the public.
Some respondents who spoke to our correspondent attributed the inability of the Southeast security outfit to take off to the fact that the governors do not have the political will to replicate what their Southwest counterparts did.
According to an Aba based human rights activist and lawyer, “the governors did not have the political will to set up Ebubeagu. The need for the outfit arose when ESN sprang up to handle the menace caused by herdsmen.
“When the governors saw that the ESN was popular in the east and Amotekun was popular in the west, they decided to come up with Ebubeagu.
“Of course, it was rejected by the people of the Southeast. The governors did not have the will to make it succeed, seeing that it was unpopular.
“The ESN was coming to the rescue, but the outfit became bedeviled by stories of violence which also made it unpopular among Igbo elites too.
“Right now, the security of the zone is in the conventional security agencies of Nigeria, and that is the reality as both Ebubeagu and the ESN have almost gone extinct.
“The Nigerian military is very strong, and if the military decides to end any insecurity in the Southeast, they would do it. It is a matter of will power.”
A renowned Interpol Systems Consultant, Sir Chikwe Udensi, said the creation of Amotekun in the Southwest was timely, saying it is an effective replacement for Odua Peoples Congress (OPC).
While stating that Southeast governors created ESN inadvertently by allowing a security gap to exist, he warned that Ebubeagu security outfit created by the governors should not be allowed to die, warning that its demise would give rise to more dangerous armed groups.
He said: “It was Southeast governors that created ESN inadvertently. It is their laziness, their laxity, their ineptitude. It is their inept nature that created ESN.
”When it comes to a stage when nobody can defend you, you defend yourself. And if it continues, it will get to a stage where everybody will carry arms in Nigeria.
“The insecurity is such that people are tired. Few days ago, the Emir of Zazzau said everybody should carry arms in self defence. Once there is a lapse, a vacuum is created.”
Mr. Victor Chibueze, who maintained that it will be duplication of functions and additional financial burden on Abia State to add another security outfit to the existing one, noted that the body language of the governors showed that they were not serious, except Governor Umahi who he said has shown commitment in ensuring that there is peace in the region with the prompt setting up of the Ebubeagu outfit in his state less than 72 hrs after the meeting in Owerri.
“Enugu State has the forest guards already. What will become of Abia Homeland and Enugu State Forest Guard is what we don’t know.”
Chibueze, who called for the strengthening of the existing Homeland Security in the state, said: “The truth is that ESN is not recognised by any law because its parent body, IPOB, is a proscribed group and therefore does not have the power to operate in any part of the country.
“Under what law are they operating? Until Biafra comes, their activities remain illegal, because there is no legislation backing their activities.
“The truth is that the governors wasted time before the setting up of a regional security outfit, which gave relevance to the activities of the ESN.
”I listened to the interview the Governor of Abia State granted Channels TV after the agreement to establish the Ebubeagu outfit. My worries began after the governor granted that interview.
“Ikpeazu didn’t tell us how the group was going to be funded. He didn’t tell us if Ebubeagu personnel were going to carry guns and the type of guns that they are going to carry.
“Another important thing is how these men are going to be paid. The governors are battling with judicial autonomy and independence of the legislature. If the states have money, they won’t be dragging the judicial and legislative autonomy for this long, and it is the same states that owe workers that you want to shoulder the burden of a security outfit.
”The stories that we are hearing about the payment of homeland security in Abia and the forest guard in Enugu State, if they are anything to go by, are not palatable. That calls to question how the new southeast security group is going to be funded. How committed are the governors going to be in their monthly payment and providing other logistics?
”We are aware that despite the humongous security votes that they get, there is practically nothing to show for it, not to talk about adding another burden on them.”
An Igbo group, the Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF) says the major reason Southeast governors do not want Ebube Agu security outfit to take off is to avoid offending the interest of President Muhammadu Buhari and his kinsmen.
The group also accused the governors of taking the internal security of the Southeast for a joke because of their 2023 presidential ambition.
Speaking in a chat with The Nation in Enugu, the spokesman of ADF, Abia Onyike noted that the major reason for establishing Ebubeagu was to checkmate attacks on farmers and villagers by herdsmen in Southeast villages.
He berated the Southeast Governors Forum for having a very poor and unreliable leadership.
He said: “The Chairman of Southeast Governors Forum, Governor Dave Umahi, is taking the internal security of the Southeast for a joke because of the role he plays as a Caliphate agent and because of his touted 2023 presidential ambition.
”These characters have been allowed to take Ndigbo for granted because the former President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, allowed the governors to hijack Ohanaeze by suspending the Imeobi meetings.
”The forum had ignored the Imeobi Ohanaeze Resolution of 9th February, 2020 which mandated the governors to set up a regional security outfit like Amotekun in the Southwest.
“The chairman of the forum, Governor Umahi of Ebonyi State, betrayed Ndigbo when he unilaterally disassociated himself from the regional security arrangement.
“He granted several interviews where he argued that the regional security paraphernalia was unrealistic.
“However, after series of attacks and killings by Fulani herdsmen in Ebonyi State, coupled with the deteriorating security situation in the Southeast generally in 2021, pressure was mounted on the Governors’ Forum to do something meaningful.
“It was along that line that sometime in April, 2021, the governors started meeting and later on Governor Umahi announced that they had created Ebubeagu.
”But the whole exercise has turned out to be a smokescreen. Remember that Umahi’s elder brother, a retired Army Officer, Gen. Obi Umahi, whom he appointed as the Chairman of the South East Security Advisory Committee and Commander of Ebubeagu, resigned few months ago after complaining that the governors were not serious about the security arrangement.
”The implication is that the Southeast has been short-changed and rendered rudderless,” Onyike said.
In Ebonyi, the state chapter of the security outfit has taken off months ago.
The members were presented to the state governor a few weeks after the announcement by the southeast governors in their uniforms.
A week later, the governor donated vehicles to enable them carry out their functions.
The Nation learnt that they were armed with pump action rifles and placed on monthly salaries.
Commissioner for Internal Security, Stanley Okoro Emegha, said the Ebubeagu security outfit is backed by law and is assisting the state police to protect lives and secure the people of the state.
Emegha, who said Ebubeagu has come to stay in Ebonyi State, said it shows the state government is serious about maintaining peace and order in the state.
”Ebubeagu has come to stay and it is well known to the security agencies. Ebubeagu men have been trained by security agencies.
”The full function of Ebubeagu started from the capital city where we recruited over 150 personnel and we sent them first for training.
”Other ones that are coming from the local governments are 100 per LGA. We allowed it in the hands of the traditional rulers and then possibly in the hands of some stakeholders in those areas to select.
“Ebubeagu will be complimenting the works of the security agencies.”
Imo State government says it has put everything in place for the take-off of the state vigilante.
The Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Chief Declan Emelumba, disclosed this to The Nation.
He said: “We have completed recruitment and the personnel of the state vigilante are currently undergoing training. This is the state of Ebubeagu.”
Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr C Don Adinuba, told The Nation that he was not there when Ebubeagu was formed and could not speak for the Anambra State Government
Again, he said he was not briefed on the setting of of Ebubeagu, adding that he had no such capacity to speak for his government.
However, on his personal opinion as an indigene of Anambra, he said what Governor Willie Obiano had put in place in the state, security wise, was enough for other states in the country to come to Anambra and emulate.
Adinuba said the state had not witnessed any bank robbery since the administration of Obiano, which, according to him, was a record.
He also told The Nation that Anambra had no problems with the herders because the state government had what he called a committee headed by a retired Police Commissioner, traditional rulers, government and the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN).
The Committee, he said, worked with all the security outfits in the state, adding that the state equally had Anambra Vigilance Service (AVG) which worked with security outfit. (Nation).