Insecurity: FG , South East leaders okay ban on open grazing, reject agitation for secession

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ENUGU- A Federal Government delegation led by the Minister of Defence, Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi (rtd), of the five -East , Ohanaeze Ndigbo and other of political, religious and traditional institutions in the zone rose from a closed-door in Government House, Enugu on Friday, accepting ban on open grazing and reiterating their commitment to peace, unity and stability of Nigeria.

Addressing newsmen after the ,  Magashi, disclosed that the delegation would relay the commitment reached at the parley and other outcomes of the consultation to President Buhari.

The defence Mlminister, who was accompanied by his Interior Ministry counterpart, Rauf Aregbesola, and the chiefs, explained that they were in Enugu for a consultative with of the zone on the issues of instability and criminality, at the instance of President Buhari.

He added that the meeting agreed that there were fundamental issues that needed to be addressed in the region.

The leader of the presidential delegation stated that one of the issues is the farmers/ herders conflict which, he said would “be given the necessary accord to this menace all over the country, from the perspective of national interest”.

Magashi revealed that the second issue they discussed was “the problem of marginalisation”, stressing it “is well accepted and further discussion will continue after we have met with Mr. President to see their grievances and after the will articulate the grievances so that we can have further discussion on them”.  

The minister further disclosed that the delegation endorsed the Community Policing Model of the , adding that it “should be encouraged because we have set precedence in the Amotekun in the Western part of the country”.

His words: “We appreciate our discussions. We are most humbled and I think each one of us; the governors, the elders, the religious were able to say one or two things.

“We would put our heads together to see that peace and stability of this nation are brought back to normalcy in no distance time.

“We are appealing to the media to report the positive side of government and encourage us to pursue legitimate ways in which we can bring peace and stability in this country”.

In an address at the meeting, the Governor of Ebonyi State and Chairman of East Governors Forum, David Umahi, on behalf of the leaders of the zone, restated their commitment to , saying that “this sincere commitment is a new dawn not only to -East but to entire Nigeria”.

Commenting on the ban on open grazing, Governor Umahi said: “Just on a very minor specifics for the emphasis of our , we discussed the issue of ban on open grazing and of course this delegation is in support of this ban on open grazing and we also informed the delegation that each of the South East has laws in this respect”.

The South East Governors Forum Chairman noted that the commitment of the Federal Government towards addressing all the issues pertaining to in the South-East is very important.

He stated that the governors have agreed to articulate all the grievances and concerns of the of the South East “as spelt out by the Ohanaeze Ndigbo”, saying: “We are happy that there is genuine willingness for further dialogue on such issues”.

Gov. Umahi maintained that Ebubeagu is the only recognised local security outfit in the South-East, emphasising that “no other security outfit is speaking for South-East and this is the position of Ndigbo”.

According to him, “We are committed to one united Nigeria; we have always mentioned this; all our leaders are committed to this and that is why we read it everywhere, a united Nigeria of fairness, equity and equality of freedom and this we have further expressed.

“Those who dish out hate speeches from our region, threat of violence or secession do not speak for South-East. I repeat, we the South-East are not for secession, we don’t support it; we don’t call for it.

“We condemn the killings of security men and innocent people in the South-East and the governors are doing everything possible to ensure the safety of our people. We are supporting the security agencies. We finally appeal to our people to continue to engage our youths to eschew violence”.

Earlier in his opening remark, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State described the  meeting as timely and apt, expressing optimism that the outcome of the meeting would address the security challenges in the South East zone.

Gov. Ugwuanyi, who stressed the need for all government structures to uphold the security and welfare of the people as the primary purpose of government (enshrined in the 1999 ), said that the consultation with the chiefs and critical stakeholders of the South East zone, on the current security challenges, “underscores the centrality of this security responsibility in our consideration”.

The Enugu State Governor thanked President Buhari for sending the Federal Government delegation to the South East to consult with the leaders of the zone.

Other South East leaders in the meeting include Governors of and Imo , Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu and Senator Hope Uzodinma respectively; Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Nkem Okeke; the Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe; Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Hon. Uchechukwu Ogah; President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Prof. George Obiozor; former President of the , Senator Ken Nnamani; Senator Ike Ekweramadu; Deputy Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Toby Okechukwu; Speaker of Enugu State House of ,  Hon. Edward Ubosi; former Governor of old Enugu State, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo; Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyawu, Chief Nnia Nwodo, Chairman of Christian of Nigeria (CAN), South East among others.