he horrible security situation in South-East Nigeria has been in the headlines for some time, and it has only become worse since the government abducted and imprisoned Nnamdi Kalu. While Boko-Haram militants and extreme Islamic groups constituted a severe security threat in the North, and cults and area-boys ruled the South West, the South East used to be the calmest part of the country. The exclusionist practice of Muhammadu Buhari’s dictatorship towards the Igbo were made obvious from the start, with Igbo land being excluded from crucial appointments and critical infrastructure. The Government sees Igbo land as occupied territory, sending security personnel to bully, extort, and terrorise the inhabitants of the region while they are away from the main theatre of conflict. Many people died and properties was destroyed in the region as a result of the government of Muhammadu Buhari’s ill-advised military operation code-named “Operation Python Dance.”
The Government has blamed Nnamdi Kanu’s Indigenous People of Biafra for the unrest in the region’s security. However, as one might anticipate, some worried onlookers disagreed. The alleged insecurity in the South East attributed to the famed unknown gunmen was engineered by Government officials with the goal of destabilising the region, according to reports. It is said that part of the purpose is to create a state of terror in order to prosecute and blackmail IPOB to legitimise the Government’s unjustified terrorist labelling of secessionist agitators. Another likely reason is to have a justification to target the Eastern Security Network operatives, who have served as a major impediment to Fulani jihadists’ takeover of Igbo land. Third, it is widely believed that the aimless APC-led Federal Government is hell-bent on capturing Anambra State in the upcoming gubernatorial election and that the only way to do so is to sow fear and confusion among the electorate; to sow voter apathy in order to rig the election. Furthermore, others claim that the planned insecurity is part of the APC-led government’s revanchist policies against the Igbo people for declining to vote for the party.
It is said that the planned insecurity in the South East was part of a grand scheme by political pettifoggers to deny the region a chance at the president now that the race for the 2023 general election has begun. It is also widely accepted that the region’s political renegades are being exploited to commit this horrible crime against the Southeast Region in order to further their own political objectives.
The statements of Government officials, without a doubt, support these allegations. It is no secret that the President’s statements, body language, and actions toward the region are far from charitable. The comment attributed to Minister of Justice Malami to the effect that a state of emergency be proclaimed in Anambra State is not only nefarious but also irresponsible, and it makes me wonder if he is the Minister of Justice or Injustice. Despite the fact that Abubakar Malami’s home state of Kebbi is one of the most insecure in the country, with swarms of Al-Majiris, robbers, and terrorists terrorising his people, he has not campaigned for a state of emergency.
I recently read a piece in a Lagos-based publication lamenting the sorry condition of insecurity in the South East Region and blaming it on IPOB members. The report was blatantly deceptive because it repeated the Government’s devious canard of trying to legitimise its malicious activities in the region. It is strange that the situation in the South East is receiving more attention than the everyday horrors perpetrated by Boko-Haram, bandits, herders, and other terrorist organisations devouring the country. Only the gullible and those whose brains have been clouded by hatred will believe the mainstream media’s narrative that the Indigenous People of Biafra and the Eastern Security Network operatives are to blame for the recent mayhem in the South East.
It is important noting that, with the government’s apparent implicit assistance and culpable carelessness, Fulani herdsmen, who had previously been known for minor conflicts with farmers, emerged empowered and began to unleash mayhem on the populace, murdering, maiming, rapping, and destroying people’s farmland. Trailer loads of Al-Majiris and bandits are smuggled South and dropped in forests, which they occupy and use as launch pads for attacks on civilians. Villages are assaulted and looted, individuals are kidnapped, and ransom demands are made while the Government stands by. Unfortunately, the profligate government that has so far gone on a borrowing binge refinances the terrorists by negotiating and paying them ransom while making no visible effort to defend the people who are being attacked. Instead, the people are being asked to surrender their weapons and warned not to retaliate against their assailants. The Governors of the South West responded by launching the Amotekun security network, whilst the Governors of the southeast and South-South areas made a lame half-hearted attempt before backing down. The Indigenous People of Biafra founded the Eastern Security Network (ESN) in the midst of this turmoil to protect the South East region from herders and terrorists. And this is where the current saga began, with the Government leaving security forces in the region unsupervised, presumably looking for the Eastern Security Network operatives. The Government allowed aerial bombing of forests in Orlu, as well as a shoot-on-sight, stop-and-search order, and house-to-house search for suspected Eastern Security Network operatives, a gruesome operation that has cost the lives of many innocent residents.
Given the significant deployment of armed security personnel in the state, Eastern Security Network may not have the capability, inclination, or opportunity to perform the alleged crime. Or were there security personnel stationed in the area to monitor or prevent crime? The Igbo man has always had high regard for the sanctity of life, which is why there is so little bloodshed in Igbo territory. Bloodletting is a savage behaviour that people copy from other cultures. The Igbo man is a hard worker and a visionary. They are not idlers, but builders, and as builders, they do not destroy property or productive assets indiscriminately because they understand how much it costs to construct.
In the midst of it all, one thing is clear: the administration is currently unable to escape the South East’s security issue. There are plenty of reasons to suspect that the government is involved. Nobody would put their trust in a Government that criminalises civil disobedience and civil rights advocacy before falling in love with bandits and terrorists. Nobody would trust a Government that allows serial killers to go free while dispatching security forces to quell peaceful dissent by unarmed individuals. Nobody can trust a Government that cares more about animals than people. How can we trust a Government obsessed with things like Cattle Colony, RUGA, Live Stock Transformation Program, Grazing Route…while human development programmes and the urge to restructure and establish a viable system in the country are unjustly ignored?
I must state plainly that the attitude of the Federal Government and its punitive actions toward Easterners are feeding the regional problem. It goes without saying that the security situation is politically motivated and premeditated and that it has been introduced into Igbo territory to destabilise the region. It is a calamity of epic proportions!
In order to solve the insecurity in the South East, the Government must first recognise the root of the problem and change its unwholesome attitude toward the region. Fairness and justice are what the people want. Hostilities towards the region must end; tyranny and oppression have their limits.