By Stephen Ubanna
The heightened insecurity situation in the southern part of Nigeria has taken a turn for the worse as the gunmen now target major Public offices and police stations, in order to incur the wrath of President Muhammadu Buharri, a retired Army General and Commander –In-Chief, C-In-C, of the Nigerian Armed Forces, who is currently in Paris, France, attending the Global Finance Summit for Africa.
The gunmen , appears to have an agenda in carrying out the attacks on Police stations and security Operatives, particular: to force the Katsina state born Nigerian President to militarise the south east, as obtained in the n north east states of Borno, Yobe, and north west states of Zamfara, described as home of Bandits, Kaduna and Katsina, home state of the Nigerian President, and some parts of the north central geopolitical region.
Between Monday, May 10, 2021, and now, nine national assets , mostly police stations, spread in different states in the southern region had been attacked by the hoodlums, which was said to have resulted in the killing of eight Policemen in two of the attacks.
Many had expected the deployment of over 3,000 police personnel by Usman Alkali Baba, acting Inspector General of Police, IGP, to Imo state, described as the heart of the Igbo land to forestall further attacks on national assets in the region but this is not the case.
The acting IGP, may have taken advantage of the cases of unrest in the state ever since the gunmen, who were alleged to be members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOD, and the Eastern Security Wing, ESN, which took over the state to attack national assets and residents including security operatives to deploy more policemen to the state to contain the activities of the hood
lums. Baba, the acting IGP, may have continued from where Mohammed Adamu, his predecessor had stopped in tackling the gunmen in south east geopolitical region to restore normalcy. There are speculations making the rounds that there are people who are beating the drums for the gunmen both within and outside the country which may have emboldened them to carry out the deadly attacks on national assets, particular, the Police stations and security Operatives, without considering the implications in the region.
This is evident going by the attack on the Enugu state office of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on Sunday, May 16, 2021. Festu Okoye, the INEC, Chairman for Information and Voter Education Committee, had reported that the gunmen ‘’ set ablaze the electoral umpire foyer. They were said to have also vandalized the main building and caused extensive damage to some of the Commission’s vehicles within the premises.
He had listed the items that were damaged by the hoodlums, which included six Toyota Hilux vehicles while two others were samshed beyond repair. The INEC, Chieftain had pointed out that the damage inflicted on the Enugu state INEC, building could have been much more than the items listed, both for the quick intervention of policemen to the scene. Another set of gunmen were said to have attacked the INEC, office at Ohafia Local Government Area of Abia, home state of Senator Orji Uzor Kanu, who incidentally was a former governor of the state.
Prior to the recent attacks in Enugu and Abia states, national assets, the hoodlums had attacked the Mike Okiro, Divisional Headquarters ,in at Trademore, Umuahia, the Abia state, Capital, which had confirmed what what Nasir el-Rufai, a former minister of the Federal Capital Territory and now governor of Kaduna state had said, that the Criminal elements had found their way into the major cities to further cause mayhem in the country.
They were said to have equally attacked Ozubulu I Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra state. Note that Ozubulu is the home town, of Iju Tony Nwabunike, President , Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, and several other big time importers and agents.
The gunmen may have extended their operations to the Delta, a south-south state, as the hoodlums were said to have attacked the Nsukwa Divisional Police station in Aniocha Local government of the state ostensibly to divert the attention of Ifanyi Okowa, a Senator of Federal Republic of Nigeria and governor of the state. Recall that Okowa, had hosted the first ever 17 southern states governors at Asaba, the state Capital where historic decisions were taken.
The high level of destruction caused by the assailants at the Nsukwa Police Station may have attracted the attention of Issac Akinmoyede, an Assistant Inspector General of Police, overseeing Zone 5, which includes Delta state and Ari Muhammed, the state Commissioner of Police to visit the raided Nsukwa Police station, with a promise to fish out the perpetrators of the deadly act.
The attack on security Operatives by hoodlums was said to be more pronounced in Akwa Ibom, home state of Godswill Akpabio, minister of the Niger Delta, where five policemen and a wife of one of the officers were killed at a Divisional Police station at Odoro Ikpe Local government Area of the state. Another Police officer was said to have been killed by gunmen at Etim Ekpo Area Police Command. The gunmen were said to have also attacked Ika Police station in the south- south state but were repelled by the gallant officers on duty when they were alerted of the strange visitors who were armed to the teeth.
Given the heightened insecurity situation in the country may have informed why the southern governors had called for a dialogue between stakeholders from the north and south to resolve their differences and return the country to normalcy.
Rochas Okorocha, a former governor of Imo state, and now a Senator of Federal Republic of Nigeria, who many believe was a northern brought up and political ally of Buhari, may have cued up into the southern governor’s call, for a national dialogue. He would want the Nigerian President ‘’to convene ‘’a national dialogue’’, noting that he could still do it since he have about two years to Complete his second term in office.
The former Imo state governor who could not hide his feelings had told those that cares to listen that the southern governors call for dialogue was an indication that ‘’there is something which the people of southern region are doing which the people in the north did not like and vice versa which could only be resolved through a round table discussion. Describing the southern governors call for dialogue’’ as a call for peace and not war’’, he had urged people from the north reading meaning into the call to do a rethink’’ and save the country from disintegration’’.
Given the worsening insecurity situation in the country, Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives , appears to have taken the shine of Ahmad Lawan, Senate President and Buhari, close political associate , to have planned to hold a five-day security summit next week in Abuja, ‘’to seek solutions to the security Challenges facing the country over the last one decade’’. Gbajabiamila, was said to have made known the plan of the House to hold the summit, at a public hearing on the Armed Forces Trust Fund. He had said that ‘’the support Trust Fund for the Armed Forces ‘’will go a long way to adequately equip the military to better tackle the security challenges facing the country’’.
He disclosed that the five-day summit will take a holistic view of the various security issues facing the country and the best ways to solve the problems. The southern governors meeting at Asaba, may have spurred the Lawmakers into action.
The question people have always asked was: what happened to the report of the Senate security summits of 2018 and 2019, which was said to have been submitted to the Nigerian President for implementation. This may have informed why people are skeptical that nothing would come out of the Gbajabiamila le House five-day summit as their report may gather dust in the Presidency like the previous Senate security Summit reports.
Worried by the rising insecurity situation of the country, which the governors elected on the platform of the Opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP, believe have overwhelmed Buhari and the ruling All progressive Congress, APVC, the aggrieved governors who could no longer sit by and watch the hoodlums make a mess of the country security network had called for ‘’devolution of powers to the state as one of the ways to tackle the menace.
The PDP, governors were said to also called on the C-In-C, ‘’to convene a meeting of the Nigerian Police Counci, NPC, to develop strategies on how to combat the recent attacks on Police stations, especially in the southern part of the country before it gets out of control. The unhappy PDP governors maintained that ‘’the Force remains the appropriate institution to secure Nigeria’s nascent Democracy and therefore, must not be subjected to personal attacks. They were said to have advised the Nigerian President to give priority ‘’to the welfare and funding of security agencies.
Seyi Makinde, the governor of Oyo state, was said to have provided a Platform for the PDP governors to speat out at Ibadan, the state Capital. Although, people had read meaning the ranching policy of the Buhari Administration, the governors may have agreed to it as they were said to have backed the adoption of the ranching policy, describing it ‘’as the most viable solution between the herders and farmers. They were said to have rubber stamped the southern governors call ‘’for the restructuring of the country ‘’to devolve more powers and functions to the states’’.
There are fears in both official and unofficial circles and even security circles that the retired Army General may not take the advice of the PDP governors serious , no matter how good they may be to avoid playing into the hand of the Opposition party as the 2023, general elections is just about 24 months away..