From Magnus Eze, Enugu
The spate of insecurity in the South-East occasioned by renewed killings and kidnappings, particularly by murderous herders, has caused tension and anxiety in the zone ahead of the Yuletide.
The Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Nzuko Umunna, Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF), and the Coalition of South East Youth Leaders (COSEYL), among others, have called on governors of the five states in the region to rise up to their primary duty of protecting the lives and property of their people.
This was as the Association of South East Town Unions (ASETU) said the zone must reorganise and reinforce its homeland security.
Worried by the precarious security situation in the zone, the South East Governors’ Forum agreed on October 30 to set up a 24-hour joint patrol in all major highways within the region.
Rising from a meeting at the Government House, Enugu, they called on the federal government to come to their aid in providing security in the zone, bearing in mind that elections were around the corner.
Recently, Eha-Amufu, a farming community in Isi-Uzo Local Government Area of Enugu State, bordering Benue State, has come under horrendous attacks by herdsmen, leading to the death of many and displacement of several villages. This is outside several cases of kidnapping for ransom perpetrated by herdsmen in the area.
Unconfirmed reports said at least 200 people were killed and many others raped or wounded, while hundreds took refuge in Internally Displaced Persons Camps in the previous attacks on the community.
Saturday Sun learnt that residents of Ohuolu Mgbede, Aguamede, Mgbuji and Ebo communities in Eha-Amufu fled their homes in what was akin to a war situation.
This situation in the Enugu community has continued to elicit condemnation. The state government called on heads of security agencies to rise to the challenge and deploy more personnel to the affected communities to provide adequate security for life and property.
Chairman of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Council of Elders, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, has called on the governors and the apex Igbo body to convene an emergency meeting of political, religious and traditional rulers to address the herders’ incident in Enugu. The elder statesman, who appealed to the federal government to address the killings and destruction of farmlands and property by herdsmen in parts of Enugu and Ebonyi states, warned that the Igbo would no longer tolerate further onslaught.
Speaking during the week in Owerri, Iwuanyanwu said: “I will also recommend that the South East Governors’ Forum, in collaboration with Ohanaeze Ndigbo, set up a relief committee that will give individuals opportunity to contribute money towards the alleviation of not only those who were attacked by herdsmen but also those affected by the flood.
“It’s very important; the council of elders would be able to talk to business leaders to support the state governments, because they cannot do it alone, I want to assure all of them that Igbo are in deep sympathy with them. We’re not going to forget them and we would keep praying for them.”
ASETU has declared that only an indigenous security system could save Igbo homeland from the increasing attacks by herdsmen.
National President of Igbo Town Unions, Chief Emeka Diwe, urged the people to be vigilant, noting that there would not have been cause for concern if the Ebubeagu Security Network set up by some governors in the region had the required local content.
Diwe told Saturday Sun that the Igbo were an endangered species in Nigeria, but urged communities that had not activated their indigenous security system to do so in order to be able to checkmate any security threats in their domains.
Harping on the vulnerability of Ndi Igbo, Diwe said: “Any security structure worth its name must be indigenous security system. The Association of Igbo Town Unions is the only group that has established indigenous administrative structures (Town Unions). The Association operates at various levels, from the village up to the regional and national level. So, an indigenous security that has multi-level operational independence, free from the control of the governor is what is required. The government can finance the operation but the management should be outside their control.”
Indeed, killings by suspected AK-47-wielding herders have been on the rise, a reason the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) gave for floating the Eastern Security Network (ESN) two years ago.
IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, had said during the launch of ESN that it was established to shield the South-East and South-South regions from banditry and terrorism. The South-East governors had prevaricated on the call by their people to set up regional security outfit just like their counterparts in the Southwest had done with Amotekun before the Ebubeagu was eventually established
Meanwhile, a leading Igbo group, Nzuko Umunna, has inaugurated a formidable team to investigate the security situation in Enugu State, with a view to meeting the state government with its report.
The team was also charged to verify reported cases of dropping of weapons by a helicopter in Enugu State, as well as the killings and alleged beating up of women by the military in the state.