From Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
Following the threat by the Nigeria Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, to go after the security oufit of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Eastern Security Network (ESN), whom he alleged has been responsible for various attacks on security agents in the southeast and southsouth, the group in its reaction has affirmed that no amount of threat by the navy that will make it disband the outfit.
In a statement by the media and publicity secretary of IPOB, Emma Powerful to newsmen in Owerri yesterday, it also denied the involvement of the ESN in the killings as alleged by the naval chief.
Powerful reiterated that ESN was only established to flush out criminals and terrorists in the southeast and southsouth forest.
He said “We have severally stated that ESN is not after security agents but terrorists rampaging our communities. ESN operate in the bushes and not in the cities. Anyone looking for them should go to the forests.
The IPOB spokesperson has also claimed that the charge by the naval chief is another ploy to relaunch a manhunt for the members in the southeast.
“We are however not surprised that the Nigeria Government will easily point accusing fingers at us. We know their antics. They are only looking for another justification to launch fresh military operation in the South East and South South to kill more innocent and unarmed Biafrans.
“The Naval Chief who is too weak to mobilise his troops and confront Boko Haram and Fulani bandits that are daily slaughtering both security operatives and civilians in the North and different parts of the country, Kidnapping for ransom and rapping women in farms, is now threatening to launch military operation against ESN and IPOB.
“We have severally stated that ESN is not after security agents but terrorists rampaging our communities. ESN operate in the bushes and not in the cities. Anyone looking for them should go to the forests.
“Neither ESN nor IPOB is involved in the purported attacks against security agents. This is another fabricated lie by the Nigeria military to blackmail the security outfit and have another excuse to attack innocent people.
“ESN is not ‘unknown gunmen’ reported to be responsible for the said attacks. ESN is identifiable and has a mandate. Its mandate is to protect the Eastern region against terrorists and the killer herdsmen. Unless the military is telling us that they are coming to defend the terrorsts occupying our forests, otherwise ESN has no business with security agencies.
“ESN is not a terrorsts group and cannot be treated as such. The security outfit is a child of necessity born out of the compelling need to protect our people against terrorists’ invasion following the shameful failure of South East governors to float a regional security outfit.
” There’s no way IPOB would fold hands and watch terrorsts on evil agenda decimate our communities while the Government maintained criminal silence. This gave rise to the setting up of ESN by our proactive Leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu. No amount of blackmail can coerce us into disbanding ESN. It has come to stay just like Amotekun and the Miyetti Allah Security Network and Hisbah security outfit.
“We therefore want to place the Eastern people on alert over the evil plot of the Nigeria military to declare another special military operation in the region using the purported attacks which of course are not peculiar to the region as an excuse. Powerful stated.