From Okwe Obi, Abuja
The Conference of Igbo Elders for Peace and Development has called on South-East governors to establish a security outfit to curb the rising cases of banditry and kidnapping ravaging the region.
The Conference’s National President, Dr Festus Edochie, and Secretary, Barr Esther Amadi, in a statement on Thursday, disowned the security outfit purportedly set up by the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, characterising it as an illegal outfit that would plunge the region into a face-off with the Federal Government.
‘We observe with utmost shock and concern a disturbing video of a group of some misguided youths codenamed “Eastern Security Network” bearing arms and circulating on the social media,’ Edochie observed in the group’s statement.
‘In the said video, the group, which claimed to be operating somewhere in Anambra State, carried AK-47 and other dangerous weapons under the guise of providing security against violent crimes being committed by herdsmen in the region.
‘We condemn this group and its activities in its entirety and call on all South-East governors and well-meaning Ndigbo to come out and condemn this act of criminality being sponsored by a self-appointed leader of a proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
‘While we recognise perfectly the yearning and desire of every Nigerian today for community policing and self-security due to the insecurity in the country, we insist that it must be done in accordance with the law of the land and by the right people who are legally empowered to do so.
‘No group or individual has the legal right to bear prohibited firearms of that nature without the proper backing of the law. Hence, we must all rise in the South-East to not only condemn but also distance ourselves from this act without delay.
‘No doubt, the current security architecture of Nigeria has failed and Nigerians deserve to protect themselves, but that must be done within the premise of the law.
‘We are Nigerians and cannot form a parallel security arm that bears prohibited firearms for any reason in our region.
‘It is not in the place of IPOB to organise such a group armed with automatic weapons, no lawful country or citizen will support that, even the civilian Joint Task Force, which is supported by law with members assisting in fighting terrorism in Borno State and other parts of North East, don’t use automatic weapons.
‘In the South-West, Amotekun, which is lawfully set up by the authorities in the region, does not use automatic firearms.
‘Bearing prohibited firearms under any guise is unacceptable.
‘Only Dane guns and pump-action rifles can be licensed in Nigeria. We have restrictions in Nigeria on the use of firearms and nobody is above this law. Criminals use these illegally.
‘The obvious gap in our national security notwithstanding, a proscribed organisation like IPOB does not have the right to arm a group of young men with automatic weapons in the name of a security network or any nomenclature. It is totally unacceptable and must be resisted by all Ndigbo of goodwill.
‘We are, therefore, calling on all the South-East governors and businessmen in the region to pull resources together and form a security outfit like Amotekun or a civilian JTF backed by law, which can be controlled and be effective.
‘Finally, we wish to call on the South-East governors, Ohaneze Ndigbo and other well-meaning groups to come out to condemn the act of criminality that may spark unrest in the region, thus portraying Ndigbo as a bad and lawless people.’