The recent formation of Ebube Agu, the joint South East security outfit, by the South East Governors’ Forum is laudable. The regional security outfit will coordinate the activities of all the vigilance groups in the South East with the aim of tackling the rising spate of insecurity in the region. The governors first announced plans to float this outfit last year. After that announcement, nothing much was done to actualise it until last week.
No doubt, insecurity in the region has assumed a frightening dimension. The other day in Ebonyi State, suspected herdsmen attacked Egedegede, Obegu and Amuzu communities and killed a number of people. At Ngbo community in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of the same Ebonyi, some gunmen similarly attacked and killed many indigenes. It is not clear whether the attack came from the herdsmen or from Agila people of Benue State who have a longstanding land tussle with the Ngbo people.
In some other parts of the South East, abductions, armed robbery, cultism and other sundry crimes are prevalent. Recently in Imo State, a traditional ruler was kidnapped but released a few days after.
The most disturbing trend is the recent killing of security men in the region. With the exception of Enugu State, all the South East states have experienced these savage attacks. The height of it was the recent audacious attacks on the Imo State Police Command headquarters and the Correctional Centre in Owerri. About 50 vehicles were reportedly razed and 1,844 inmates released from custody. Since January this year, over 20 policemen have been killed and some police stations burnt down in the region.
The South East states have adopted different strategies to curtail this spate of insecurity, all to no avail. The Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano, for instance, banned the use of tinted glasses by motorists in the state. In a state-wide broadcast following the killing of some security operatives in the state, Obiano called on the people of Anambra to cooperate with the government to tackle the menace of insecurity in the state. On his part, the Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, imposed curfew on some parts of the state recently.
With the coming of Ebube Agu (the tiger’s aura) it is hoped that insecurity in the region will be fully tackled. It is in line with the formation of Operation Amotekun by the South West governors in January last year. Amotekun came on the heels of similar spate of insecurity in the South West. The Sagamu-Ore Expressway, for instance, was a no-go area. One of the high profile victims was the daughter of a prominent Afenifere leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti. She was killed by criminals on that expressway some three years ago. A former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae, was also abducted. Luckily, his abductors released him unharmed after some days in captivity.
Before the formal inauguration of Amotekun, the security personnel were already on ground. The South West governors rallied round to provide funds, operational vehicles and other logistics for the outfit. The same thing cannot be said about the formation of Ebube Agu. The South East governors merely announced the establishment of the security outfit without any concrete evidence of adequate logistics preparation on ground. From the look of things, they have not provided operational vehicles and weapons. They have not screened the personnel who will form the nucleus of the outfit.
Though we commend the idea behind the establishment of the outfit, we feel it is hastily done. The governors apparently wanted to assuage the feelings in some quarters that they are not doing enough to combat insecurity in the region. The danger in not taking a proper control of the security of the region is that non-state actors may hijack the situation for pecuniary gains. There is still time to correct some of the identified mistakes.
The first thing to be done now is to give it a legal backing. This is a task for all the state Houses of Assembly in the region. The states should also embark on massive recruitment of the operatives of the outfit. Since the various communities’ vigilance groups will form the nucleus of Ebube Agu, there is need to carry out a thorough background checks on them to ensure that it is not infiltrated by criminal elements. Also, provisions should be made for the purchase of arms and operational vehicles for the outfit.
Besides, we advise that when fully operational, Ebube Agu should avoid being used by politicians as their attack dogs. Abuse of the security outfit will not only derail the intention of establishing it, but also engender its eventual demise. In all, the establishment of Ebube Agu is a noble idea. It is in tune with the idea of the decentralisation of the nation’s policing system.
We commend the South East Governors’ Forum and urge them not to rest on their oars until the entire region is rid of undesirable elements making the region unsafe for investments and other human endeavours.