Sit-at-home must stop, say Igbo leaders, set Dec 31 deadline on Ebube Agu

Adelani Adepegba, Leke Baiyewu,  Raphael Ede and Tony Okafor

6 October 2021

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The South-East governors and other leaders on Tuesday mandated all the states in the zone to launch the region’s security outfit, Ebube-Agu,  before the end of the year.

The Igbo leaders stated this in the eight-point communiqué issued at the end of their meeting in Enugu, the Enugu State capital, which the Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano, did not attend.

The meeting, which was also attended by the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, traditional rulers, National Assembly leaders, the clergy and other prominent leaders, mandated the governors and all the people of the South East do everything within the law to ensure that there is no further sit-at-home in the South -East.

In the communiqué, which was read by the Chairman of South-East Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief David Umahi, the leaders condemned the killings in the region and resolved to support the security agencies to stop the mayhem.

It read: “The meeting condemned the sit-at-home orders, which are mostly issued by our people in the Diaspora who do not feel the pains. In view of the information that even IPOB had cancelled the sit-at-home, the meeting resolved that governors and all people of the South -East do everything within the law to ensure that there is no further sit-at-home in the South- East and that people are allowed to freely move about in the zone;

“The meeting agreed that the South- East Ebube  Agu security outfit be launched in all the South-East states and laws passed in various South-East states before the end of 2021.”

Umahi also said the meeting received the committee report on various matters affecting the South-East, especially on the issue of security and marginalization of the zone.

According to him, the leaders also resolved to support election in Anambra State. They directed security agencies to ensure a peaceful election on November 6.

The leaders, however, failed to discuss the incarceration of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, who had been in detention since June, 2021.

Meanwhile, there was a mild drama earlier at the Enugu State Government House gate when the Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, arrived for the meeting and wanted to go inside the government house with two armoured cars and heavily armed security men but was resisted by the government house security.

The PUNCH gathered that the Enugu government had prohibited visitors from coming to the government house with weapons and other governors and leaders who came with their security details complied with the order except the Imo State governor.

Uzodimma, who insisted that his two armoured vehicles with the police and army security must go in with their weapons, later had his way.

This act led to a hot argument between the Enugu government house security at the gate and the armed men from Imo state.

Meanwhile, the Anambra State Governor,  Obiano, was absent from the meeting and did not send a representative.

Those in attendance were Governors Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Enugu, David Umahi, Ebonyi, Hope Uzodinma, Imo and the deputy governor of Abia state, Ude Okochukwu who represented Okezie Ikpeazu.

Also in attendance are former governors of Abia Theodore Orji, Ebonyi, Martins Elechi, National Assembly leader South East, Ike Ekwemadu, senator Representing Abia South Enyinnaya Abaribe.

Others are former Enugu State State Governor, Okwesilieze Nwodo, former President General of Ohananeze Ndigbo, Nnia Nwodo, Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe, Deputy Minority leader, House of Representatives, Toby Okechukwu, chairman of Enugu State Traditional Rulers Council, Ambassador Lawrence Agubuzu, among others.

When one of our correspondents enquired from the Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr C-Don Adinuba on why the governor did not attend the meeting, he said he would find out from the governor before he would want to comment on the matter.

Adinuba said, “I’m in a meeting now. I intend to see the governor in a few hours time to be properly briefed before I could speak on that. I promise to get back to you.”

Meanwhile, members of the House of Representatives from Anambra State on Tuesday warned that the rising spate of killings and destruction required a drastic response from the government. They warned that the security crisis would spread to the entire South-East geopolitical zone.

At the plenary on Tuesday, the House urged National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (retd.), and other security agencies to “deploy all necessary machinery to Anambra towards containing the menace.”

The House also mandated its Committees on National Security and Intelligence; and Police Affairs to ensure that normalcy is restored within the state and report back within three weeks.

The lawmaker representing Nnewi-North/South/Ekwusigo Federal Constituency in Anambra, Mr Chris Azubogu, had moved a motion of urgent public importance to narrate the recent killings in the state, including his driver over the weekend.

The lawmaker emphasised the need to work with the security agencies, with a view of containing the atrocities and making the state safe for law-abiding citizens to go about their lawful businesses.

Another member from Anambra State, Obinna Chidoka, who is representing Idemili-North/Idemili-South Federal Constituency, noted that most of the recent attacks and killings happened within his constituency.

Responding to a question from Gbajabiamila on the true picture of the crisis in Anambra, Chidoka said while there was a group of secessionists calling for the State of Biafra, there were also “criminal elements that have also joined this group.”

Police deploy more special forces, personnel in S’East

In a related development,  the police are set to deploy more operatives in the South-East to address the insecurity in the region.

It was gathered that more special forces, riot policemen and regular cops were being drafted to the zone to strengthen the manpower on the ground which seemed insufficient to tame the attacks on citizens in the region.

The PUNCH further learnt on Tuesday that the operatives were expected to foil the one-month sit-at-home directive being enforced by the IPOB and thwart threats against the election.

A source stated, “Consequent upon the killings and the sit-at-home order being illegally enforced by  criminal IPOB elements, the police and military authorities have decided to dispatch more men to the South-East to engage the militants and also give the people the confidence to defy the sit-at-home order.”

Findings reveal that many policemen were being withdrawn from various formations and communities and drafted to beef up security in Imo, Enugu, Anambra, Abia and Ebonyi states.

The force spokesman, Frank Mba, could not be reached for comment on the number of men being deployed. He did not respond to calls and he had yet to reply a text message sent to him as of the time of filing this report.

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