By Lateef Adegbite
When Dave Umahi, an Engineer and governor of Eboyi state had revealed that ‘’the insecurity in the south east region was politically motivated but ruled out foreigners as the masterminds’’, nobody took him seriously. This is because he has severally been accused by pundits of giving room for the Fulani armed herdsmen who had flooded the state and subsequently penetrated the ranks of the criminal gangs in the south east geopolitical region causing havoc.
The governor may have allowed the Fulani herdsmen who had remained problematic to farmers in Benue state over the years, in the state, if not to win the heart of President Muhammadu Buhari, to support his 2023, Presidential ambition on the ticket of the All Progressive Congress, APC. He was said to have received a total of N24 billion for ranching from the Katsina state born Nigerian President
A top government official had confirmed that he had directed traditional rulers in the state in 2018, to collate data on the herdsmen for easy identification of those who are Nigerians and those from Niger Republic, and other parts of the SAHEL region who might want to foment trouble in the state and the south east in general.
Unknown to the governor, the armed herdsmen, who are from different countries in the SAHEL region, had a different agenda. Umahi may have been blinded folded by his 2023, Presidential ambitions that he could not read the handwriting on the wall that terrorism has been imported into the state and the south east region have , to acted decisively to chase them away to avoid causing problem in the state and the region. He allowed them to settle in the state forests.
They may have given him the first baptism of fire of what they are used to doing in the north west states of ZZamfara, Sokoto, Kaduna, Katsina, Buhari home state and the north central state of Benue, when they attacked Egedegede , Obegu and Amaezu Communities in the state and destroyed property worth billions of naira in 2018.
There were conflicting reports of the number of people that were said to have been killed by the armed herdsmen. One account has it that 10 persons were killed during the attack but another account has it that 20 persons were murdered. But it never dawned on the Eboyi state governor to take action to avoid further to prevent further loss of lives and property in the state.
Suffice it to no say that in April 2021, the armed herdsmen, had attacked Ngbo Community of Ohaukkwu Local government Area of the state where many people were said to have been slaughtered forcing the governor to raise alarm but it was too late as the Criminal elements were said to have penetrated the ranks of other criminal gangs in the region. Recall that last January, three indigenes of Ishiagu Community in Ivo, Local Government Area of the state were attacked and killed by suspected herdsmen in the area.
Indeed, between 2018, and now, the armed herdsmen, who had entered the south east region, through Eboyi state, appear to have worsened the insecurity in the region on a daily basis with the increased killing and destruction of property in the flash point states of Imo and Anambra, described as home of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, whose Leader, Nnamdi Kanu, is still in Department of State Services, DSS, detention.
The recent kinap of Okechukwu Okoye, a member of the Anambra state House of Assembly and his Aide, Cril Chiegboka and beheading of the Lawmaker representing Aguata, Professor Charles Soludo, a former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APPGA, governor of the state Constituency speaks volume.
The Lawamaker who was said to have been kidnapped alongside his Aide, Chiegboka, on May 15, 2022, severed head was said to have been dumped at Chisco park in Amichi , a Community in Nnewi South Local government Area of the state on Saturday, May 21, 2022, six days after he was abducted.
Prior to the kidnap of the Lawmaker, the alleged Bandits, referred to as gunmen, in different parts of the country, were said to have burnt down Aguata Local Government Area Secretariat at Ekwuobia, forcing the governor to set up a 15-member Committee on Truth, Justice and Peace headed by Solo Chukwulbelu, a Professor that will spearhead peace in the state and the south east in general.
The Bandits who were aid to have set the Aguata Local Government Secretariat on fire were said to have come in motorcycles as they usually do in the north west states of Zamfara, Kaduna, Katsina,Sokoto and Niger states while going out on operations.
Take for instance, in the recent attack at Garkudi village in Jibiya Local Government Area of Katsina state, the Bandits , armed with sophisticate weapons , were said to have arrived the village in motorcycles and started shooting sporadically in the air to scare the natives. The quick intervention of the police may have forestalled the criminal elements from carrying out their nefarious activities as 12 of the Bandits lost their lives to the superior fire power of the security agency operatives, forcing others to to flee. The truth of the matter is that the security agencies personnel are always on the red alert for the Bandits in the north western region.
There is no gainsaying the fact that Jibiya incident was not different from Ekwuobia, the Aguata, Local Government Area, Headquarters, where the gunmen were said to have entered the Secretariat, setting structures, shops and vehicles ablaze. While king of the Lawmaker is still fresh in the mind of the people of the state, the alleged Bandits were said to have gunned down no fewer than 12 other people, including a pregnant woman and her four children in the state on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.
Daily and weekly, stories of attacks on police stations, Local Government Area Headquarter and other public Institutions, killings and kidnappings are heard. The worry of many is the high level of confidence being exhibited by these hired killers as they go about their killing spree dressed in black attire like their counterparts in the north western geopolitical region.
In taking over power from Willie Obiano, the former governor of the state, on March 17, 2022, Soludo, had confessed that ‘’the alleged gunmen has distorted his programmed for the state based on what he found on ground: killings in the state.. He had offered amnesty to those perpetrating crimes in the state and asked them ‘’to lay down their weapons and embrace dialogue’’, promising ‘’to rehabilitate that would heed the call’’. He got it wrong as the killings in the state have not stopped but getting worse.
GovernorSoludo, may have tried to calm tension in the state when he said that ‘’there is no targeted etnic and religious killing in the state’’.
The Eboyi state governor may have shot himself on the leg when he said that ‘’there was no large scale of insecurity in the south east until he decamped from the Opposition People’ Democratic Party, PDP, to the ruling APC’’. At present, Zamfara, Kaduna, Katsina, Sokoto, in the north west region, Niger state in the north central state region, and now Anambra and Imo states, in the south region, have become notorious in Banditry attacks and killings in the recent time.
Despite the high level of insecurity in the country, the Katsina state born Nigerian president has given his words ‘’to restore peace to every part of the country’’ ahead of the 2023, general elections. The Nigerian President who spoke during the 58th the anniversary of the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, under the close watch of Air Marshall Olayinka Amao, in Kano state, had said that ‘’the government would not rest on its oars until pace and security are fully restored in the country’’.
He may have used the opportunity of the NAF Celebration to reassure the country security agencies personnel of ‘’government’s continued support’’. He may have gladdened the heart of the NAF, personnel when he noted that his government had over the last seven years invested much in equipping the agency , which has continued to yield results in the north east states of Borno and Yobe, where Operation Hadin Kai, OPHK, theatre which is prosecuting the counter- terrorist war in the region are making appreciable progress in the Sambisa Forest and he Lake Chad Basin, by destroying all the settlements.
He has promised ‘’to do more to bring the situation under control in the north west sates of Zamfara, Kaduna, Katsina, Sokoto and the north central states of Niger, Benue and Plateau including Imo and Anambra states I the south east region .The Federal executive Council, FEC, was said to have approved ‘’the procurement of more fleet forms such as Beechcraft , some modern helicopter gunships, and UAVs to enable the NAF Personnel, effectively man the country’s air space.
Recall that in 2019, the Nigerian government had signed a contract with Russia Federation for the supply of 12 Mi- 35 helicopter gunships. The contract was still running before the Russian federation invasion of Ukriane in Late February 2022, prompting sanctions from the North American country of the United States, US, United Kited Kingdom, UK, European Union, EU, Canada and other member countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, NATO. Nigerian may not want to be caught in the crisis as a Non-Aligned member nation by keeping the arms supply contract with Russia Federation lying low for now by tilting more to the west.