By Elizabeth Chukwuma
Barely twenty hours after the governors of the five south eastern states of Abia, Eboyi, Anambra, Enugu and Imo, reached a working agreement and Launched a regional security outfit, code named, Ebubeagu, after the animal, Lion, the king of the forest, to tackle the Criminal activities in the region, gunmen were said to have struck in Umuogudu Akpo –Ngbo Community in Ohaukwu Local Government of Eboyi state killing an undisclosed number of people.
That much was confirmed by Stanley Okoro Emegha, the state Commissioner for Internal security and border peace and Garba Aliyu, the Commissioner of Police . An eyewitness account had said that the shooting and the timing of the attack was not different from the operations of the Bandits in Communities in the north west states of Zamfara, Kaduna or Katsina, home state of President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired army General that had been attacked in the recent time. This is an indications that the armed Bandits may have penetrated the ranks of the Herdsmen to throw the south eastern states into crisis.
Recall that a few weeks ago, the suspected gunmen had killed fifteen people in Umuhuali, Nkalaha, Obeagu, Nkalagu and Amazu Communities in Ishielu Local Government Area of the south east state . The gunmen who had operated in the style of the Bandits in the north west and the BokoHaram and the Islamic State of the West African Province, ISWAP, Insurgents, were said to shot sporadically in different areas of the Communities to wake the people up from their sleep and deal with them decisively without any resistance.
Many believe that if the Ebubeagu security Outfit, which Dave Umahi, the governor of Eboyi state Chairman of the south east Governors Forum, had said would be rural based, equipped and Intelligence driven , has started operation, it would have been a blood berth at tUmuogudu Akpu-Ngbo Community. The attack on the Eboyi Community by the suspected gunmen may have sent a signal to the south east governors that no part of the region is safe as the north west Bandits and the north east BokoHaram and ISWAP insurgents may have penetrated the region to test the might of the Ndigbo to fight back in order to throw the entire region into crisis.
This is where Usman Alikali, a one- time Deputy Inspector General of Police, DIG, in-charge of the Force Criminal Investigation Department, FCID, and now the Inspector General Of Police, who has flooded the region with different Police monitoring units may have to do everything within his capacity to make the monitoring units effective.
But Umahi, the Eboyi state governor may have shocked Nigerians when he said the Herdsmen were not involved in carrying out the attack in the Ohaukwu Local Government Community, an indication of giving a dog a bad name to hang it. The governor who could not hide his feelings had said that the attack on the Eboyi Community , going by Preliminary investigations , has to do with ‘’to the age-long crisis between the Community and their Agila Neighbours in Benue state, which had been on fire because of the activities of armed Herdsmen over the years.
The Eboyi state governor may have gone further to state the extent to which he has gone on the matter to unravel those behind the attack . He disclosed that said he has reached out to the Leadership of the Miyetti Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria popular, MACBAN, in the state who were said to have denied any involvement in the attack . He had recalled the promise that had been given to the state government that the Herdsmen that will not on any account perpetrate an attack on any part of the state.
Many believe that the governor who has a Presidential ambition to contest the 2023 election on the ticket of the All Progressive Congress, APC, if it is zoned to the south east may have moved fast to absolve the Herdsmen of any involvement in the Eboyi Community to douse the tension in the state to avoid a repraisal attack in order to win the support of the retired army General who has a great hold on the people of the north west Geo-political region.
In spite of the Chairman of the south east governors claims to absolve the armed Herdsmen from the Ohaukwu Local government Community attack, the people are still dived on the issue, as a section of the Community still believe that armed Herdsmen carried out their attack, to turn it to another Benue Community.
Orji Uzor Kalu, the Senate Minority Leader, representing Abia North and a-one time governor of the state, who sees himself as the next president of Nigeria being a strong political ally of the Nigerian President , may have seen the attack on the Eboyi state Communities and the recent attacks by gunmen on national assets in Imo state as a ploy ‘ to sabotage the Buhari Administration’’
. He may have shot himself on the leg when he asked the retired army General, ‘’to convey a security summit with the service chiefs, governors, selected ex-governors and former senior military personnel to address the security situation in the country.
Notwithstanding the claims of the two Ibo leaders that the Fulani Hrdsmen were not involved in the recent attack of an Eboyi Community, which left on its throes an undisclosed number of death, to win the support of Buhari for their Presidential ambition in 2023, many still believe that the Herdsmen who have been penetrated the Bandits, BokoHaram and IWAP Insurgents , had carried out the attack and must be fished out to face the full weight of the Law.
While the south east governors are battling to tackle the rising insecurity in the region, the situation in Borno, one of the flash point states, in the north east remain tense, as the United Nations, UN, Humanitarian agency has cried out for help. This is because of the persistent attack on its facilities in the hub areas in the state.
A UN, Humanitarian agency official had said that but for the quick intervention of the Nigerian army with the support of the air Wing of the Operation Lafiya Dole, the Insurgents may have succeeded in their plan to take over the town and hoist their own flag in order to guarantee their fighters regular food supply .
Already, fears are being expressed in both official and unofficial quarters that if the violent attack on the UN, Humanitarian facilities at the Damasak town continue unabated, it would dimish the support to the 8,8000 Internally Displaced People and the 76,000 people in the host Community receiving Humanitarian assistance and protection from the UN agency.
Worried that the Insurgents are not Observing and respecting the International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law, to ensure the protection of Civilians, Humanitarian facilities and personnel, Edward Kallon , the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, has appealed to the armed parties, to observe he Law. An aggrieved Kallon, has advised that ‘’Civilians and aid workers as well as Humanitarian facilities and assets should never be the target of the Insurgents.
Appealing to the International donors and stakeholders in the Humanitarian project not to be dampened in their enthusiasm to support in funding of the nine Humanitarian hubs in the north east state and to the UN, Humanitarian Air Service, UNHAS,he noted that ‘’these are enablers of the Humanitarian operations in north eastern Geo-political region of Nigeria’’.
Kallon was said to have also appealed to the International Organisations not to withdraw their support to the agency Humanitarian Response Plan for the region in order’’ to provide Life –saving and Life-sustaining support to the over six million displace people and the host Communities affected by the crisis’’.
It is instructive to note that Nasiru El-rufai, the governor of Kaduna state , had described the Bandits operating in the north west states of Zamfara, Kaduna and Katsina including Niger, home state of former military President General Ibrahim Babangida, rtd, as basically involved in kidnapping operations to raise money for the Islamic Fundamentalist Group to procure arms and ammunition to sustain the insurgency in the north east.
On Monday, April, 12, 2021, the armed Bandits who have been giving the El-rufai government troubles , had attacked Wawan Rafi village in Zagon Kataf Logal Government Area of the state. Samuel Aruwan, the state Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs had said that but for the mobilisation of security Patrols Controls to the Area, the Bandits may have caused much damage to the Community. He disclosed that the Bandits were repelled , forcing them to retreat into the forests adjoing the Community.
They were said to have also stormed a sugarcane farm on the outskirts of Iyatawa in Giwa Local Government Area. More worrisome was the Bandits attack on a settlement located along the Kajuru – Buda road in Kajuru Local Government Area. They were said to have also made attempts to kidnap in the Community but no luck.
The retired army General who is still in the United Kingdom, UK, on medical vacation, may have taken advantage of the Ramadan, ‘’to call for increased unity , solidarity, peace’’, to ensure’’ the prosperity of the nation.