INSECURITY IN THE SOUTH EAST: WHERE ARE OUR ELDERS?

BY DONS EZE

As the saying goes: “An elder does not sit idly by and watch, while a she goat delivers in tether.”

So many unpleasant things have been happening in quick succession in different parts of the South East in recent times that should be of urgent and serious concern to all true lovers of the region, and in particular, to our reverred elders, traditional rulers, religious leaders, and members of the academia.

As things presently stand, there appears to be a serious disconnect between the political leaders of the South East, and majority of the youths in the area. Everyday we hear about attacks in different parts of the South East, on one government institution or the other, about the burning down of one police station or the other, about the killing of policemen and other members of the security forces, and some ordinary citizens. Many people are perplexed, worried.

Since these attacks were carried out by “unknown people”, and not spirits, the attackers would not have escaped the prying eyes of both the political leaders of the South East and youths of the area, and become apprehended, if there was unity of purpose, that is, if the people were working together. But because the two groups seem to be working at cross-purposes, the attackers have remained “unknown” and mysterious.

Initially, everybody in the South East had agreed that there was danger in the land, with accusing fingers pointing towards the direction of foreigners occupying the forests, who masquerade as herdsmen. These people kill, maim, rape women in their farmlands, destroy farm crops, burn down houses and farmlands.

As such, both the South East political leaders and groups fighting for revalidation of Biafra, agreed that there was need to set up a security outfit that would protect the hapless people of the area, and ward off the invaders, since Nigerian security forces were not doing their work.

But in course of time, the South East political leaders appeared not to be moving with time. They began to backslide, which necessitated the group agitating for Biafra to seize the initiative and set up the Eastern Security Network (ESN). This jolted the South East political leaders, and they woke up from slumber, to announce the setting up of their own security outfit, called Ebubeagu.

Now, the two security groups, that is, Eastern Security Network, and Ebubeagu, appear to be standing in opposition to each another. While the sponsors of ESN believe that the South East political leaders were not serious in tackling the menace of Fulani herdsmen, and that Ebubeagu could be an extension of the federal security forces, which always looked the other way while Fulani herdsmen perpetrate their heinous crimes against the people; the South East political leaders, on their part, accuse members of the ESN, which was set up by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), as perpetrators of crimes, and called them “criminals” and “murderers.”

We believe that the current upsurge in security breaches in different parts of the South East could be traceable to this differing perspectives between these two security groups. It is possible that some people outside the South East might have capitalized on this differing viewpoints to begin to sponsor attacks in the region, so as to make the place look volatile.

Today, the South East is in turmoil. No day passes without reported cases of one attack or the other, and killing of people in the process. This is very surprising and unusual, given the fact that the people of the South East are known to be very peaceful. They are hardly violent. They are peace-loving, lawful and orderly in their various approaches to issues, and are equally respectful to constituted authorities.

So what has gone wrong? Why has everything suddenly changed? Why is the entire place in flames? Why are there killings everywhere, destruction of valuable property, both public and private? Why have the otherwise peace-loving people of the South East suddenly become violent and begin to flex muscles with constituted authorities, with those who pilot their affairs?

Meanwhile, the Fulani herdsmen and their cattle are everywhere in the South East, destroying crops and farmlands, and nobody seems to be doing anything. They have told us that open grazing has been outlawed in the South East, but we see hundreds of cattle everyday freely parade the streets and farmlands, and nobody is doing anything to stop them, not even Ebubeagu. When however the Eastern Security Network tries to confront them, they will brand them criminals, and Nigerian security forces marshalled out against them! This is curious.

In view of this ugly situation of things in the South East, we propose the convening of a Stakeholders Security Summit that would make up of first-class traditional rulers, respected clergymen, elders, youth leaders, some members of the academia, etc., to comprehensively look into this deteriorating security situation in the South East, with a view to bringing it to a halt.

The way things are currently going, if urgent action is not taken, the entire region might be in conflagration. People are dying everyday in the hands of bandits, while valuable property are being destroyed. There are no checkpoints on the roads in the South East, while policemen have deserted the streets. In the circumstance, some bad boys are capitalizing on this to cause mayhem in society, to dislocation in the polity.

Many people no longer venture out to the streets for fear of what might happen to them the next moment. Everybody is apprehensive, because nobody knows who would be the next victim

We do not think that the political leaders of the South East are in position to convene this all-important Security Summit, because they have lost the confidence of the youths. Ohanaeze Ndigbo, is equally hamstrung in convening the summit, because of the alleged cosy relationship between them and the South East political leaders.

Thus, the lot falls on our elders, our reverred statesmen, our respected traditional rulers, eminent religious leaders like Chief Mbazulike Amaechi, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Obi of Onitsha, Nnaemeka Achebe, Igwe Ambassador Lawrence Agubuzu, Archbishop Emmanuel Chukwuma, Bishop Godfrey Onah, Professor Chinedu Nebo, etc., to take up the gauntlet and convene the summit that would look into and solve the vexatious issue of insecurity in the South East before it becomes too late.

We are tired of seeing human blood flowing freely on our roads. We are tired of seeing valuable property, cars, and all that, burn to shreds. We are tired of living in fear, in trepidation, and uncertainty.

Dr. Dons Eze, KSJI

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *