By Casmir Igbokwe
A lion (Agu in Igbo) is known for its strength and bravery. It fears nothing and is seen as the king of the jungle. Its roar alone sends other animals scampering for safety. And because it is revered in Igboland, the South-East Governors’ Forum, perhaps, decided to name its newly formed security outfit, Ebube Agu (lion’s aura).
The governors had hinted at this regional security outfit in February last year. They made the announcement soon after the establishment of the South-West regional security outfit, called Operation Amotekun. Many of us clapped for the southern governors then for their initiative.
Amotekun has since taken off with its headquarters in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital. It has operational vehicles and weapons. It is backed by law. It has also made some inroads into the security architecture of the South-West. And its presence has not stopped the operations of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), which offers some sort of security for the South-West.
Ebube Agu just started with some teething problems. There is nothing on ground to show that this regional lion has the capability to roar, bite and kill. I have not seen any operational vehicle marked Ebube Agu. Neither have I seen their uniform. The state Houses of Assembly have not enacted any law backing up the establishment of the outfit.
Chairman of the South-East Governors’ Forum, Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State, explained that operatives of Ebube Agu had been operating as Forest Guards and Neighbourhood Watch before now. He said they had only fused together as Ebube Agu for members to share intelligence and go across borders to track down criminals. Good.
But the governors pussyfooted in establishing this outfit. Their delay created a vacuum, which the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) exploited to expand its Eastern Security Network (ESN).
Now that Ebube Agu has come, what happens to the ESN? Will there be cooperation between the two security outfits? Will Ebube Agu be able to combat the unknown gunmen who have been freely attacking police formations in the South-East?
It is doubtful. Already, IPOB has fired some warning shots. In a recent statement, the group warned that any youth who joined Ebube Agu to spy on ESN should be prepared to join his ancestors. Chairman of the South-East Governors’ Forum, Umahi, said the ESN was an illegal entity and noted that some people wanted to incite the South-East into war.
Before now, concerned stakeholders had called for an urgent establishment of a regional security outfit, to no avail. What appears to have roused Umahi and Company from sleep and prompted them to hurriedly announce the formation of Ebube Agu was the rising spate of insecurity in the South-East. Beyond kidnapping for ransom, armed robbery and some other crimes, there is this disturbing killing of security men in the region. Since the beginning of this year, over 20 security operatives have been killed and some police stations razed. The worst so far was the attack on the police headquarters and the correctional centre in Owerri by “unknown gunmen.” The incident led to the burning of over 50 vehicles and freeing of 1,844 inmates from the Owerri custodial centre.
From the look of things, Ebube Agu may be incapable of combating such serious crimes as the Owerri attacks. I wish I am proved wrong. But from every indication, the South-East governors lack the coordination and seriousness to prove me wrong. They don’t even have the financial muscle to fully equip the regional outfit. Most of these states are struggling to pay salaries and meet statutory obligations.
Granted that the governors have security votes to play around with, the reality is that there is deep resentment in the South-East about the current structure of the Nigerian federation. This resentment is deeper when you mention the incumbent government, which appears to have made nepotism the cardinal principle of state policies. Amid this turn of events, the majority of Igbo youths have come to see IPOB as a messiah that has come to liberate them. Hence, it will be difficult for Ebube Agu to operate fully without hitches, if it does not cooperate with the ESN. Knowing the stand of the governors on IPOB, this desired cooperation may be elusive.
Outside IPOB or South-East, most people now pay allegiance to their tribes or regions more than the country. We deceive ourselves when we talk about One Nigeria without the necessary push to achieve that oneness. Hitherto, the agitation for self-determination was a South-East affair. Today, some Yoruba youths and elite have joined the fray. They now want Oduduwa Republic. Boko Haram and sundry bandits are in the forefront of agitations in the North. Even some established northern groups have come to blame President Muhammadu Buhari for the sorry state of affairs in the country currently.
Surely, peace thrives where there is justice, fairness and equitable distribution of resources. Many Nigerians are hungry and angry. They want jobs. They want their poor situation changed. Unless we right some wrongs in Nigeria at the moment, peace may continue to elude this country. Security operatives will simply be overwhelmed.
No doubt, the establishment of Amotekun and Ebube Agu is desirable. The governors have done noble. But total restructuring of the country is needed at this time to give teeth to the regional security outfits. Restructuring will reduce the agitation for self-determination. It will ensure devolution of powers and even development in the country.
For Ebube Agu to succeed, extreme care should be taken to avoid politicians using it to achieve personal interests. Operatives should be properly screened to prevent infiltration by criminal elements. The state governments should adequately fund it to enable it roar and devour enemies like a true lion. The state Houses of Assembly should immediately pass laws establishing the outfit in the five states of the South-East. Above all, the governors should find a way to marry the operations of Ebube Agu with those of the ESN. This is one major way the outfit will succeed in securing the South-East from criminals. If the governors and IPOB continue with their mutual antagonism, the efforts to secure the region will be in vain.
Re: Nigerian police and unknown gunmen
Casmir, the insecurity in every part of Nigeria today is due to poor leadership and a good sign that the present administration is not in control. There are so many injustices in the country and the government is not doing anything to correct them. The attacks on the security and government agencies are indicative of people’s frustrations. To stop this madness the President should follow the rule of law. He should give equal treatment to every section of the country. He must commence the process of restructuring of this country. State police and constitutional roles to the royal fathers must be encouraged.
– Pharm. Okwuchukwu Njike, +234 803 885 4922
Dear Cas, the unknown gunmen is the one in South East. Bandits are in the North. Every region will taste President Muhammadu Buhari’s next level government policy of nepotism. Gen. Sani Abacha once said if insurgency lasts more than 48 hours, government hand is behind it. The presidency that defends killer herdsman is the cause of our insecurity. Let’s restructure to move forward.
– Tobias Igbokwe, +2348023729899
Your article is the effect of lack of adequate planning and provision for the future by our leaders. Let the President, governors, local government chairmen and other political office holders know that, if they do not plan well for the future now, time shall come when this sad event will repeat itself. And they shall spend more on security. Planning includes adequate provision of employment opportunities and better conditions of service for workers, which would enable them take adequate care of their children.
– Chinedu Ekwuno, 08063730644
Dear Casy, the current unfortunate slant of lethal violence against the police in the South East is like a fart released by palmwine tapper while up on the palm tree, which sends flies wondering. The Igboman, from the days of yore, is known to cringe before a policeman and, therefore, avoids problems that would take him to the police. However, this latest madding trend is a microcosm of the decay in our social system, which, among others, devalues human life, encourages selectivity in dishing out justice, wherein those with AK-47 as pastoralists are intact, while those involved in misdemeanour are severely dealt with. SOLUTION: (1) Sincerity of purpose, (2) Impartiality, (3) De-marketing of ethnic jingoism or religious bigotry in national affairs, (4) Rejigging the police force and other security agencies to rise up against this new malady.
– Steve Okoye, Awka, 08036630731
Dear Casmir, I have it in my will that my country Nigeria should not divide. The reason for insecurity is the endless postponement of restructuring. Again, the political spectrum has failed to contain all parties and diversity of our country. Let us count our teeth with our own tongue.
– Cletus Frenchman Enugu, +2349095385215
Dear Casy, the present security mess in our land is connected to past misrule. After the conquest of the North by Fulani, they introduced hegemonic rule where a few elite minority destroyed the majority. Mass illiteracy, poverty, ignorance and stealing of public funds became the official policy. Our politicians in the east copied the hegemonic feudal system of the North. Since 1999, with due respect to Mr. Peter Obi, how many jobs and infrastructural development have past and present politicians put in place? Let the Igbo reject their governors’ Ebube Agu hype. Let the present ESN and other local vigilante continue their good work.
– Eze Chima C. Lagos, +2347036225495
Before we get out of this insecurity in Nigeria, we must do investigation to know those who are sponsoring these killings, because somebody somewhere is smiling to the bank over insecurity in Nigeria. Who are the so-called unknown gunmen?
– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535
The Imo experience is just a part of the failure of the Nigerian system. There are also two gladiators in Imo who are on each other’s neck. While they lock horns, Imo bears the brunt. Gov. Hope Uzodinma himself, who is at the helm of affairs and also sees more than we do, has submitted that disgruntled politicians are behind the mayhem. We cannot doubt the wisdom of his clairvoyance and informed interpretation of occurrences. Officers of the Nigeria police of the good old days were reasonably educated, detribalised, respected and even feared. The police institution of today reflects the opposite of the sterling attributes of the past. In spite of some rare acts of honesty and civility of today, Nigerians are yet to align with the police. The EndSARS revolt remains an enduring show of angst against the police. The road to 2023 is fouled by desperation: South East’s due quest for the presidency is being checkmated by ‘artificial’ insurrection.
– Edet Essien Esq. Cal. South, +2348037952470
- Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, April 19, 2021