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ESN is a brainchild of South-East governors hijacked by IPOB —Uzodinma

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The Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma, has said the Eastern Security Network (ESN), the regional security force and a paramilitary wing of the Igbo separatist group, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), was the brainchild of South-East governors, but was hijacked by the group.

Uzodinma in a parley with members of the Correspondents Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Owerri on Saturday said the governors abandoned their plan of using the name “Eastern Security Network” when it was hijacked by IPOB.

He disclosed that the governors of the five south-eastern states plan to hold a summit in Owerri to discuss the modalities of setting up another security outfit for the region.

The governor said the summit would help to access the security situation in the region, and proffer the best solutions to its security challenges.

Uzodinma admitted that pressure was being mounted on the region’s governors to launch the zone’s security outfit, and vowed that the new security outfit would be different from others when introduced.

His word: “In the next couple of weeks, governors of the South-East will hold a security summit in Owerri to fashion out modalities for setting up a security outfit for our region. We will hold an elaborate discussion to find a lasting solution and to complement the work of security agents in the country.

“It is necessary for every zone to be vigilant and have a security outfit, especially with the present situation we have in this country. We cannot lose fate with the management of security in our region and at the same time, we must be careful in the way we go about it.

“South-East governors tried to set up the Eastern Security Network by working with Ohanaeze Ndigbo. The attorneys-general of the five south-eastern states had already anchored a report on it, and before we knew it IPOB hijacked the name and started using it to commit a crime.

“That arrangement has not stopped. We are trying to take a review. We will come up with an outfit that will be lasting. We don’t want to do things because others have done it or be copy cats. There are permutations and we must defend our people and ensure that there is no external aggression.”

Read also: Tension in Orlu as military reportedly conducts airstrikes in search of ESN members

Recall that at the height of insecurity in the zone in the year 2019, the governors met in Enugu on July 28 and 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, 2020, 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.”

The 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.”

An idea to adopt the community policing model came after several hours of a 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), and was represented by his deputy, Placid Njoku.

However, residents of the zone who attended the zone’s security summit said they were disappointed as the governors retreated and rather endorsed and adopted the Federal Government’s community policing model.

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 the governors of the South-East zone.

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.

There habe been anger in the region over how the Southeast governors and elders’ have handled the issue of the regional security outfit, as people from the region, especially the youth, accuse them of selling out for personal political gains.

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