Tuesday Column By VICTORIA NGOZI IKEANO
A school of thought in the east believes that the spate of violent attacks in the region is a conspiracy against it. This may not be entirely correct given that other regions are also facing similar onslaughts in different forms. Insurgents running amok, rampaging bandits/kidnappers, killer herdsmen, blood thirsty cultists, rioting gunmen, these are being experienced in various parts of our country. The government should no longer pretend that these are isolated incidents that would peter off with time. Like a hydra-headed dragon, they would continue to rear their ugly heads in new ways while still fixated on their fundamental objective which is to terrorize us all. Evil is flaring up all around us. We all (both the authorities and the citizenry) have to do some soul-searching but the governments at all levels as leaders have to take the lead in words and actions, in showing the Light for the others to follow . Our leaders should be well aware of the spiritual and temporal responsibility which their positions of authority thrusts on them and so should discharge their duties with the utmost care, diligence. The citizenry on their part should lend them a loving hand to assist them govern aright. Any dereliction of responsibilities by any of the parties leads to dire consequences…
The south east zone had its fair share of destruction that trailed the initially peaceful #EndSars protests that later turned violent. There have been pockets of violent attacks of varying forms since then on security facilities and policemen especially, appear to be endangered species in the zone. These took on a rather frightening dimension recently, not just because of their magnitude but also because they occurred during Lent/Easter which essential theme is sacrifice, love, peace.
True, it was a bloody Easter generally in parts of the country, however, in the south east the onslaughts came in rather quick succession. Here is a sample of them. On March 25 some 15 members in a community in Ishielu local government area of Ebonyi state were reportedly killed by suspected herdsmen. Governor Dave Umahi recounted what happened thus, “…About a year ago we had incident of killing of two herdsmen within this same location and we immediately asked the security agencies to fish out the people that did that and they did fish them out and as we talk, they are standing trial in Ebonyi state and the community and security agencies made peace with them and so it is very shocking that overnight all the herdsmen in Ishielu local government vacated the council area which means that the local herdsmen in Ishielu are part of the conspiracy in killing of our people. They vacated despite all efforts my government, the governors of south east and security agencies have been making to protect them… We condemn this attack, it is not only happening in Ebonyi state; if it is allowed to go this way it is capable of generating very serious civil war among the nations of Nigeria”. He appealed to the people not to take revenge action.
On March 31, 2021, news filtered in of attack on Professor Chukwuma Soludo, former governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank–turned politician who is favoured to succeed incumbent Governor Willie Obiano at end of his final tenure which ends next March. The attack which happened when Soludo was meeting with youths in his home town of Isuofia, Aguata local government area inside the community’s civic centre left three policemen dead and abduction of the state’s commissioner of Public Utilities, Engr. Emeka Ezenwanne. One of the attackers was also killed. Many immediately read political meanings into it. The Anambra state government did not immediately respond to the incident; in fact it took it days to do so. Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr. C. Don Adinuba explained that the reason was because “tragedy of this proportion was not known in the state in the last seven years when the state achieved its deserving status as Nigeria’s safest and most peaceful state”, adding that the government had been preoccupied with how to rescue the kidnapped Commissioner, bring the perpetrators to justice and ensure that “nothing like this happens again in our state”.
He released a nine-paragraph statement titled, ‘Unconscionable reactions of some politicians to the Isuofia incident’ in which he berated some politicians in the state for “politicizing the tragedy”. According to Adinoba statements by these politicians on the incident “show no respect for the gallant policemen who died in the line of duty of making our place safe. They do not mourn with families of the dead police officers, nor do they commiserate with the police authorities. The statements show no sympathy for Professor Soludo who was apparently the main target of the dastardly attack. Neither do they exhibit sensitivity to the Ezenwanne family whose illustrious son has been missing…Only unconscionable people indulge in this kind of politics. Such people should not have a place in politics which strictly speaking, is an avenue to serve the people and not to seek power for its own sake and for self-aggrandizement”. He added that human life is so valued in traditional African society that when a person dies, even mortal foes and friends of the family of the deceased suspend their enmity and pay a visit to the bereaved to condole them. In a broadcast to the people on Easter Sunday, Governor Obiano announced release of the abducted commissioner, stating that he was hale and hearty and that no ransom was paid. He urged players in the political arena to ensure that the state’s developmental strides are not derailed by ‘’political bitterness”. Continuing the governor stated, “I hereby urge all stakeholders at all levels of society to call for stoppage of all forms of aggression against the Police and security agencies in the state”, while pledging his commitment to security and safety of everyone living in Anambra state.
Even before we had fully digested the news from Anambra, the Nigeria Police headquarters in Owerri, Imo state,was razed by gunmen and the nearby Prison (correctional centre) similarly attacked with over a thousand inmates let out. Another police station was also invaded in another part of the state. Abia state government imposed a curfew on Umuahia, Aba, Ohaofia and Arochukwu towns following what it called intelligence report received by it. The out gone Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu whose tenure was extended by three months, fingered the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) for the Imo attacks but the organization denied responsibility.
There are speculations that these reoccurring attacks in the zone are orchestrated by fifth columnists and political opponents acting separately or in tandem to whitewash the governors and generally destabilize the zone and make it a killing field for some apparent or hidden agenda. Conspiracy theory is even being woven around the fact that the former IGP was sacked while on duty tour to assess damages wrought by the gunmen in Imo state. Governors of the zone have now agreed to set up a security outfit to be called ‘Ebubeagu’ but its modus operandi are still sketchy.