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Why South-East governors dumped regional security idea

By Lawrence Njoku, Enugu
18 February 2020   |   3:16 am
Indications have emerged that the need to avoid confrontation with the Federal Government may have necessitated the dumping of the idea of establishing a joint security outfit

Indications have emerged that the need to avoid confrontation with the Federal Government may have necessitated the dumping of the idea of establishing a joint security outfit by governors of the South-East zone.

At the height of insecurity in the zone last year, the governors who met in Enugu on July 28 had resolved to set up a regional security outfit to be co-ordinated by its joint security committee headed by Maj.-Gen. Obi Umahi (rtd).

At another meeting held in Enugu on February 9, this year, the governors had reassured on the planned joint security outfit, when they declared after the meeting that they were “satisfied with all the arrangement that will lead to South-East Houses of Assembly to enact a law to back up the security programme with a name to the outfit.”

Chairman of South-East Governors’ Forum and Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, disclosed after the meeting that they had written the Federal Government on the development and that at an appropriate time, “we shall be inviting the Federal Government to note the details of our joint security programme.”

However, on February 12, exactly three days after, residents of the zone who thronged the zone’s security summit called by the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, were disappointed as the governors retreated and rather endorsed and adopted the Federal Government’s community policing model.

The adoption of the community policing idea came after several hours of closed-door meeting at the Government House, Enugu, involving the IGP and the five governors, including Umahi (Ebonyi); Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu); Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Willie Obiano (Anambra) and Hope Uzodinma (Imo), who was represented by his deputy, Placid Njoku.

Although residents were not comfortable with the community policing idea, being that it had been on in the zone for some time now, the governors were however said to have accepted the model based on the need to maintain cordiality and maintain the same stand on security matters with the Federal Government.

A source in the meeting stated that it would amount to an affront on the Federal Government should the zone insist on toeing a different security approach, adding that taking a different security measure could lend credence to the erroneous belief that the Federal Government was incapable of handling security challenges of the country.

It was further gathered that the governors were made to believe that a joint security outfit may be mismanaged and in the process create the leeway for members of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to operate, hence the need to allow its regulation and control in the hands of the Nigeria Police.

Other considerations were said to be given to the aspirations of the governors in 2023, adding that not adopting the community policing would mean singing different tunes.

Governor Umahi had told the zonal security summit that they adopted the Federal Government’s community policing model because “the content of the new community policing strategies are not different from the security measures already in place in the zone.”

Director-General of the forum, Prof. Simeon Ortuanya, had told The Guardian that “what is important is the security of lives and property of our people and not the name,” stressing that “what should matter to the people now is to give support to the governors to realise the objectives of the initiative.”

But President-General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, however, insisted that one of the challenges that the community policing idea would face in the zone was because of the little or no confidence the people have in the police.