OPINION: Addressing the current security situation in the south east
For some time now, South East Nigeria has been in the news for the deplorable security situation in the region that got worsened since the abduction and consequent incarceration of Mazi Nnamdi Kalu by the government.
Before now, the region inhabited mostly by Ndi-Igbo used to be the most peaceful part of the country for while the Boko-Haram insurgents and the extremists Islamic groups posed serious security threat in the North and the cultists and the area-boys hold sway in the South West, the South East was relatively peaceful despite provocative and punitive policies of the current regime. The regime of PMB made it clear from inception about its exclusionist policies against the Igbo wherein the Igbo land was left out of key appointments and critical infrastructure. The government treats Igbo land like an occupied territory, leaving the main theatres of wars and deploying security operatives to intimidate, extort and terrorize the people of the region. Many people lost their lives and property during the ill-conceived military manoeuvre code-named “Operation Python Dance” that the government of Mohammadu Buhari authorized in the region.
The government has blamed the Mazi Nnamdi Kanu-led IPOB for the unsavory security situation in the region. But expectedly, some concerned observers thought otherwise. It is insinuated that the said insecurity in the South East attributed to the infamous unknown gun men was orchestrated by agents of the government with aim of destabilizing the region. Part of the reason it is alleged is to create a state of terror to criminalize and blackmail IPOB to justify the terrorist tag unjustifiably put on the secessionists agitators by the government. Another plausible reason is to have reason to clamp down on ESN operatives who have been the major obstacle for the Fulani jihadists overrunning the entire Igbo land.
Thirdly, it is believed that the directionless APC-led federal government is hell bent on taking Anambra State in the forth-coming gubernatorial election and the only way to do it is to create a state of insecurity and uncertainty; to create the voters’ apathy in order to have room to rig the election. Moreover, it is alleged in some quarters that the planned insecurity was part of the revanchist policies of the APC-led government against Ndi-Igbo for refusing to vote for APC. Furthermore, it is said that the planned insecurity in the South East was part of the grand design by political pettifoggers to deny the South East region the opportunity to have a shot at the presidency now that the race to the 2023 general election has began. It is also generally agreed that the political renegades in the region are being used to perpetrate this heinous crime against the South East Region for the purpose of advancing their selfish political interests.
No doubt, the utterances of government agents lend credence to these insinuations. It is no secret that the utterances, body language and actions of the President toward the region are everything but charitable. The statement credited to the Minister of Justice Malami to the effect that a state of emergency be declared in Anambra State is not only mischievous but irresponsible and kept me wondering if indeed he is the Minister of Justice or Injustice. Abubakar Malami’s own state, Kebbi is one of the most insecure places in the country with hordes of alimajiris, bandits and insurgents terrorizing his people but he has not advocated state-of-emergency option for his home state.
Recently, I read a report by a Lagos based newspaper decrying the sad state of insecurity in the South East Region blaming the IPOB members for it. The report was clearly misleading as it follows the mischievous canard of the government agents trying to justify its reasons for their nefarious activities in the region. It is indeed bizarre that the situation in the South East is making more headline than the atrocities that are being committed on daily basis by Boko-Haram, bandits, herdsmen and other terrorists’ organizations ravaging the nation. Clearly, only the naïve and probably those whose minds are beclouded by hatred will believe the narrative being pushed through the mainstream media that IPOB and ESN operatives are behind the recent mayhem in the South East.
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It is worthy of note that at the advent of this regime, the Fulani herdsmen who where hitherto reputed for having minor skirmishes with farmers came out emboldened with the apparent tacit support and culpable negligence of the government and began to unleash mayhem on the people—killing, maiming, raping and destroying peoples’ farms. Trailer loads of alimajiris and bandits are ferried surreptitiously down South and dumped in forests where they occupied and use as bases to launch attack on people. Villages are attacked and sacked, people are kidnapped and ransom demanded while government looked the other way. Unfortunately, the profligate government that has thus far regaled on borrowing spree refinances the terrorists by negotiating and paying them ransom while making no visible effort to defend the endangered people and instead asked the people to surrender their arms and warned them never to engage in any reprisal action against their assailants. The governors of the South West reacted by floating a security network code-named Amotekun whereas in the South East and South-South regions the governors made some feeble half-hearted attempt and then chickened out. It was in the midst of this confusion that the IPOB formed the Eastern Security Network (ESN) to defend the South East region from the incursion and menace of herdsmen and terrorists. And this is the provenance of the current imbroglio and ever since the government has left the security operatives unhinged in the region ostensibly in search of ESN operatives. The government authorized aerial bombing of forests in Orlu, shoot-on-sight and stop-and-search order and house-to-house search for perceived operatives of ESN, a macabre operation that has claimed the lives of many innocent citizens.
In reality, ESN may not have the capacity, the willingness or the opportunity to commit the said crime attributed to them given the heavy deployment of armed security operatives in the state. Or where security operatives deployed to the region to observe or stop crime? Traditionally, the Igbo man has great respect for the sanctity of life and that is why there is minimal bloodshed in the Igbo land. Those who indulge in bloodletting copy such barbaric practices from elsewhere.
The Igbo man is a productive and a creative being. They are not idlers but builders and as builders they do not indulge in wanton destruction of property and productive assets because they know what it costs to build.
In all of this, one thing is clear that the government cannot extricate itself from the security crisis in the South East at present. Of course there are ample reasons to believe government involvement. Nobody would trust a government that criminalizes protest and civil advocacies and then romances with bandits and terrorists. Nobody would trust a government that allows killers roam freely but quick to deploy security operatives to suppress lawful agitations by unarmed citizens. Nobody will trust a government that is more interested in animal than human beings. How can we trust the government that is fixated about things like Cattle Colony, RUGA, Live Stock Transformation Program, Grazing Route…while human development programs and the call to restructure and develop a workable system in the country are criminally neglected?
I must state unequivocally that it is the Federal government attitude and punitive policies against Ndi-Igbo that is fueling the crisis in the region. It is self-evident that the security crisis is politically motivated and planned and imported into Igbo land to destabilize the region. It is unfortunate in extreme degree!
Thus, addressing the insecurity in the South East will entail identifying the real cause of it and the government changing its unwholesome attitude toward the region. The people demand fairness and justice. Hostility toward the region must stop henceforth; tyranny and oppression have a limit.
AUTHOR: Gozie Irogboli
Articles published in our Graffiti section are strictly the opinion of the writers and do not represent the views of Ripples Nigeria or its editorial stand.
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