Wednesday, 6th December 2023

How to make South East security outfit work, by Intersociety, HURIWA

By Osiberoha Osibe, Awka
23 April 2021   |   3:36 am
Disturbed by worsening insecurity in the region, the Southeast Governor’s Forum recently endorsed Ebube agu as an alternative security outfit.

[FILE] Chairman, South East Governors Forum, David Umahi (middle), his Enugu and Imo counterparts, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (left), and Hope Uzodinma, with others after a stakeholders’. PHOTO: NAN

• Group says initiative lacks legal backing

Disturbed by worsening insecurity in the region, the Southeast Governor’s Forum recently endorsed Ebube agu as an alternative security outfit.

However, barely 24 hours after the endorsement, the International Society for Civil and Rule of Law, has faulted the belated floating of the outfit, describing it as suspicious and inoperable.

Chairman Board of Trustees (BoT) of the group, Emeka Umeagbalasi said the panicky and hurried announcement of the new security outfit by the Southeast Governors’ Forum was discomforting, noting that the establishment of Ebube agu came at a time “when all hopes have been lost from state actor angles, forcing most citizens of the region to place their hopes, expectations and solutions in non-state actors.”

On another hand, civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), noted that there is a legal lacuna in the creation of the regional security outfit by the governors.

HURIWA said not concretizing the policy with legal frameworks has exposed the collective hypocrisy in their idea. Raising doubts about the sincerity and genuineness of the promoters of the new outfit, Umeagbalasi said it was also doubtful whether critical indigenous stakeholders and other interest groups were duly consulted and carried along in its formation.

“The new outfit is most likely a baptism name given to the 2019 illegitimate and unpopular ‘Community Policing’ arrangement by the Southeast governors during which all security chiefs that attended the meeting where the decision to use community policing to checkmate fulani herdsmen in the region were all officers of Fulani-Hausa Muslim background.

“We therefore have strong reason to suspect that the newly created security outfit, tagged ‘Ebube agu Security Outfit,’ is a caliphate-inspired counter measure to truncate or weaken non-state actor arrangements, including vigilante groups, to legitimately defend themselves, as provided in Section 258 of the Criminal Code and Section 59-60 of the Penal Code (operational in Igbo parts of Benue and Kogi states),” he said.

Umeagbalasi hinted that the latest move by the governors is also likely geared towards using the so-called ‘Ebube agu Security Outfit’ to protect and consolidate the herdsmen’s incursions and settlements in bushes, forests and farmlands in the Southeast and its outposts in Benue, Kogi, Rivers, Cross River, Delta and Edo states.

He observed that “the name ‘Ebube agu’, is meaninglessly a camouflage, especially when the Nigerian Army has used similar camouflages like ‘Egwu-Eke’ and ‘Atilogwu Udo’ to massacre over 700 unarmed and defenseless citizens of the region, maim over 800 others, and engage in other atrocious conducts, including corrupt roadblock practices.”

Speaking on how effective the security outfit could be, Umeagbalasi noted that the new outfit “can never operate successfully in the Southeast Region where almost all the security architecture, especially military and police formations, were in the hands of officers from other regions, most of whom are Muslims of Fulani-Hausa extraction.

“The gross lopsidedness, if not total control of the named formations by officers of Fulani-Hausa Muslim extraction in southeast and its gateway regions is shocking. Statistically, in Benue State, a major gateway into the southeast, the Commander of Operation Whirl Stroke is Major Gen Yekini Adeyemi (Southwest Muslim), the Commander of 401 Special Forces Brigade, Makurdi, is Brig. Gen. Samai’la Mohammed Uba (Fulani-Hausa Muslim), the Commanding Officer of 72 Special Forces Battalion, Makurdi is Lt. Col. A.D. Alhassan (Fulani-Hausa Muslim) and the State Commissioner of Police is Audu Madaki.

“In Edo State, another major gateway into the Southeast, the Brigade Commander of 4 Brigade, Benin is Brig. Gen. MA Sadiq (Fulani-Hausa Muslim) and the State Commissioner of Police is Aliyu Ogbadu. In Delta State, the state of origin of large outpost Igbo population, the Brigade Commander of 63 Brigade, Asaba is Brig. Gen. A Idris (Fulani-Hausa Muslim) and the State Commissioner of Police is Ari Mohammed Alli (Fulani-Hausa Muslim). In Rivers State, a major gateway into the Southeast, the GOC, 6 Division, Port-Harcourt is Maj. Gen Sambo G. Mohammed (Fulani-Hausa Muslim).

“In Cross River State, a major Southeast neighbour, the State Commissioner of Police is Sikiru Akande (Southwest Muslim) and in Akwa Ibom State, another Southeast gateway, the Brigade Commander of 2 Brigade, Uyo is Brig. Gen. Faruk Mijinyawa (Fulani-Hausa Muslim). The Police Zonal Commands in Calabar and Benin were also as at weeks back headed by Fulani-Hausa Muslims (AIG Zaki Ahmed incumbent AIG for Zone 6 and another for Zone 5). In neighbouring Bayelsa State, Air Vice Marshall Aliyu Bello (Fulani-Hausa Muslim) is the Air Officer Commanding Nigerian Air Force Base in Yenagoa,” he noted.

The group further revealed that headships of operations, criminal investigations and mobile squadrons of various State Commands of the Nigeria Police Force in the Southeast region were controlled by officers of Fulani-Hausa extraction and a fraction of Southwest Muslim officers.

In its statement HURIWA asked Southeast governors to activate legislative frameworks in their states’ houses of assembly to make laws bringing into being the ‘Ebube agu Security Network’ and clearly ban open grazing of livestock to check the deliberate mass killings of Igbo farmers by armed Fulani herdsmen.

It also urged the governors to find ways of incorporating the Eastern Security Network (ESN) and all other community vigilantes into the Ebubeagu concept to get the buy-in of the people, while the region works out the funding and seamless operational strategies that will lead to the total cleaning out of all armed mercenaries causing chaos and security nightmare for communities in the region.

The group also called on political stakeholders in the region to urge President Muhammadu Buhari to lift the unconstitutional branding of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as a terrorist group whereas armed Fulani herdsmen and bandits were unleashing violence on Nigerians, leaving deaths and destruction of communities in their trail.