By Stephen Ubanna
The governors of the five south eastern states of Abia, Anambra, Eboyi Enugu and Imo, appear to have bowed to pressure from the people of the region with the support of the Ohaneze Ndigbo, the Ibo socio-cultural Organisation to establish regional security outfit,Code named Ebubeagu, the animal called Lion, described as the strongest in the forest to protect lives and property in the region.
The governors may have taken a cue from the south west governors of Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun , Ekiti and Ondo, who have the backing of Afenifere, the Yoruba, socio-cultural Organisation, to float the regional security outfit, codenamed Amotekun, named after the animal Leopard or Cheetah in January 2020.
Given an insider information why the south eastern Geopolitical region governors agreed to come together to form one joint security outfit , Okezie Ikpeazu, the governor of Abia state, disclosed that they agreed ‘’to synergise to bring the Criminality activities in the region under control.
Many believe that the governors may have decided to pull their resources together to promote a joint security outfit in the region because of the recent happenings in Eboyi state where the armed herdsmen had attacked the people allegedly killing about 15 of them, which Dave Umahi, the state governor who had given them a soft landing in state was said to have described it as a’’ stab on the back’’.
Prior to the south east governors decision to float the new security outfit in the region, each of the state had its own . Take for instance, in Abia , it was called’’ Homeland security Outfit’’, while in Enugu states, it was called ‘’the forest guards’’ to check mate the activities of the armed herdsmen.
The JMarch 5, 2021, attack at the Nigerian Correctional Custodial centre, at Owerri , the Imo state Capital, with explosives and other sophisticated weapons, and the armed gunmen attack also at the state Police Command Headquarters which had left over 50 police vehicles operational vehicles burnt, may have further encouraged the governors to act fast to set up the regional security outfit.
Indeed, the worry of the people of the state to pile up pressure on the governors to follow the foot step of the southwest governornors who were Courageous enough despite security threats to float Ometokun, which is their own regional security outfit was informed by the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired army army General, may take a drastic action against the region when he returns from his Medical vacation in the United Kingdom to fish out the armed gang and their sponsors. The Katsina state born Nigerian President and Muhammed Adamu, a former IGP, including Usman Alkali, the then Deputy Inspector General of Police, DIG, overseeing the Force Criminal Investigation Department, FCID, and now the IGP, believes that the attacks on the national assets were masterminded by the Court proscribed Independent People of Biafra, IPOD and the Ibo Security network, ESN, which the people see as an invitation to influx of security operatives in the region .
Ikpeazu, may have spoken the mind of the other governors in the region when he said that the Ebubeagu,security Outfit would be ’’properly equipped to tackle the rising unrest in the region’’. He was said to have made it clear to those that cares to listen that the joint security outfit in the region which would be rural based and intelligence-driven,would be a ‘’security outfit both in name and action’’. The governors may have been silent whether the members of the security outfit would bear arms or wear uniform to avoid attracting the attention of the security Chiefs, particular, the IGP and the Department of State security security, DSS, personnel.
The Abia state governor, who has described his state as one of the fastest growing in the country, had said that the mandate of the new security outfit, which would have its Headquarters at Enugu, the Capital of the old Eastern region, would be’’ to oversee and monitor the activities of the various Vigilantee groups and effectively help in stemming the increasing Criminal activities in the region.
Hope Uzodimma, the All Progressive Congress, APC, governor of Imo state , who had said that the recent attacsk on the security facilities in the state by the armed gunmen was sponsored by enemies ‘’to distabilise the Buhari government’’ was said to have organised the Sunday, April 11, 2021, south east governors Summit.
It was at the Owerri Summit that the governors were said to have taken a decision to go ahead with the Launching of the Ebubeagu, regional security outfit. The governors who were aggrieved that the new IGP, had flooded the south east with different monitoring units were said to have pleaded with him to stop it and allow the state Commissioners of Police and the Assistant Inspector of Police, AIG, overseeing the security of the Zone to do their work. The people fear that the IGP, may be acting out a script which must be stopped before it throws the region into Crisis.
Perhaps, to avoid a repeat of what is happening in the north west states of Zamfara, Kaduna and Katsina, described as home of the armed Bandits and Niger, home state of former military President, Ibrahim Ibabangida, retired army General in including the north east states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, where the Islamic Fundamentalist Group, BokoHaram and the Islamic State of West African Province,ISWAP, are causing trouble in the two regions, the south east governors may have spoken out their mind. They may have differed from the south west governors as they had requested for military policing in the region as obtained in the north west and north east, promising that ‘’it would be adequately funded in order to be effective’’.
Given the seriousness attached to the regional security outfit, the governors were said to have begun the sensitization Campaign in order to carry all the relevant stakeholders in the states , particular, the political class, the business Community , the Bureaucrats and the intelligentsia to ensure they provide all the necessary support to the security operatives in the region to ensure total success in the fight against criminality in the zone.
They may have sent a message to the IGP and other security Chiefs, that to invite the Leadership of Ohaneze Hdigbo and Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, who to find out the reason for rising insecurity in the region in order to be able address the menace. The security Chips may not take the order from the south east governors to invite the Leadership of Ohaneze or CAN, as they are only answerable to the Nigerian President who appointed them
Security experts fear that the increased regional agitation which had resulted in the establishment of regional security outfits as exemplified with the Ometokun in the south west and Ebubeagu in the south east to protect lives and properties in their restive regions was a clear indication that they have Confidence in the country’s security system. There are indications that the Middle Belt Geopolitical region may take a cue from the south west and south east regions to establish their own security outfit to stop the armed herdsmen harassment .
Recall that Samuel Ortom, a one- time minister of Aviation and now governor of the north central state of Benue, had advised the Nigerian President to act fast to address the high level of insecurity in the country after the attack on him by suspected armed herdsmen along the Markurdi-Gboko highway but nothing appears to have been done.
Even Abdulsalami Abubakar, a retired army General and a former military Head of state, who had mid-wife the fourth Republic had expressed worries over the regional agitations, insisting that the government must do something urgently to save the situation.
Amiu Massari, a one –time Speaker of the Hose of Representatives and governor of Katsina state, who incidentally is an advocate of an Ibo President in 2023, may have read the handwriting on the wall that the country is heading to serious crisis because of the marginalization of one ethnic group but the retired army General would not take it.
He has repeatedly said that ‘’the unity of Nigeria as a Federating unit remains Non-Negotiable’’ but that is how far he could go. The statement by the south states governors while Launching the Ebubeagu, regional security outfit speaks volume. ‘’The security situation across Nigeria as it is today is dynamic’’, stressing that they are just trying to respond to their peculiar circumstances in the region. They may have remembered the events of 1966, which they would not want to repeat itself again.