Insecurity: Umahi warns against creation of monsters in S/East, declares one wanted, another arrested


By Victor Nwegede

Governor David Nweze Umahi on Tuesday condemned the destructions of lives and properties recorded in some parts of Ebonyi State, South East geopolitical region and the country in general while briefing Journalists after an enlarged security meeting held at Old Government House, Abakaliki.

 Umahi who is the Chairman of the South East Governors Forum and the Governor of Ebonyi State, warned against creation of monsters in the region, pointing that the security threats going on in the zone are caused by the people not herdsmen as allegedly spreaded across the media.

He called the South East leaders to rise against everything degenerating threats to the security of lives and properties, stressing that, it would be worse if the Federal government decided to withdraw security agencies from the zone following the rising cases of insecurity.

"I call South East leaders to rise up and condemn these. How do you feel if because of killings, burning Police stations in South East, the Federal government decides to withdraw all the policemen in the South East. We should rise up to condemn what is evil and this is very important. 

"Those you claimed that are protecting us are not protecting us. Let us not create another monsters in South East, we will all regret it," the governor stated.

Umahi had earlier assured of his government to be holding the security meeting weekly while speaking on the new development in Effium war-worn community.

He said: "We discovered that Effium has been at peace in the past one week until one Mr Paschal Oluchukwu in Sun Newspapers of 9th April (2021) released a very wicked allegation against the security agencies and the government of Ebonyi State, and that resulted in a fresh Killing. 

"We had the stakeholders of Effium and Ezza-Effium, in our meeting today. And our decision is to arrest all of them, to commence charges on murder. After, they promised that there will be no killings again even though we noted that this is about the tenth time, they are making such promises, but we believe that they will keep their promises this time around. 

"We have equally noted that Effium and Ezza-Effium people are willing to return their homes. They are ready to embrace peace but there are still some few elements from the two sides, that went to social media to give very wrong information and it escalated tensions. 

"Then, the resultant effect is killing. So, we are appealing the security agencies, to watch out and let us apprehend such people.

"I will declare this Ambassador Pashcal Oluchukwu wanted. I have decided if he refused to respond, will be directed for his charge and immediate prosecution. We direct the commissioners for internal security and information to write to Sun Newspapers to review the identity of the man. We are now saying that he should come and defend the write-up in fresh Killings in Effium. This is very important, and we are determined, within the next two weeks to get the people of Effium, packed to their homes." 

On Iyion and Ezziulo renewed land dispute, Governor Umahi, said, "this misunderstanding has been there for a very long time. The land dispute under the leadership of Rev Dr Abraham Nwali has been working very hard and, gotten to a level of conclusion where, we declared that the land in dispute, a buffer zone. 

"But unfortunately, out of greed, one councillor from Ezziulo, took an expertrate investor to the disputed land. That resulted in shooting, and killings where two people died. 

"The Catholic Bishop Abakaliki Diocese, had directed Fr Abraham Nwali to step in and he has done that, met the leaders who agreed that there will be no shooting and killings in the area. They assured of abiding by every decision that government committee which is entirely CAN - Christians Association of Nigerian, whatever decision they come up with.

 "The security council meeting today directed immediate arrest of the councilor, and for him to be prosecuted immediately."

On issue of herdsmen, Umahi said that "there is no herdsman in Ebonyi State as at now," saying that his government did not ask them to leave the state.

"We didn't ask them (herdsmen)  to leave, but they left on their own, because of an attack on the state. I have been talking to the national leadership to please beg them that what is going on in the various states, and most Governors have control of bandits.

"And because of the killings of Ebonyi people, and they've all left the state. For the safety of them, they should please not return back now, there are still a high tension under the people who pretentiously claimed that they are protecting our people," he stated.

Further he noted: "You can see that our problems are not only the herdsmen, we are still killing ourselves. We are killing police, burning Police stations, which means that the South East should know that our problems are not just herdsmen; that we are also problems to ourselves and we enjoins leaders to rise up to condemn the spate."

The governor maintained, "there is a little monster that if it is encouraged, it will consume beyond herdsmen and other menace. So, I have sent messages to the leadership of Meyitti Allah, telling him please, Ebonyi State is under tension because of these Killings and have won them to stay out until such a time it will be safe for the traditional ones to show face."

On the open grazing, Umahi hinted that, there is no need of talking about it because we have no cow in Ebonyi State now and the law governing it standstill.

According to him, there is "no herdsmen in Ebonyi State now. But the position of Ebonyi State government is that we have a law on open grazing. The natives won't continue to blame the security agencies because the security agencies can't be everywhere. So, we are directing the vigilante, to enforce the open grazing law of the state. At the national level, the governors have said there should be no open grazing." 

He however stated that, "we don't expect the security people to be everywhere, but working with vigilante, the local government chairmen should enforce the ban on open grazing, anytime the herdsmen - the healthy herdsmen will  return, because we will confront any herdsman in Ebonyi State with AK47. I have been directed they should be confronted. If you are coming to Ebonyi State with AK47, and my directive is just obvious because Mr President has made the direction as such. If you are a herdsman coming to Ebonyi State with AK47, you will be confronted with the same measures that you are bringing to Ebonyi State. This is very important."

On Ngbo attack, he said that the state government has not bought the information flying on social media that the attacks and killings in the community, were done by herdsmen. 

Umahi informed that he has been in touch with the Benue state government through his deputy, who as well stated that, no herdsmen were there.

"What baffles us is the traditional ruler of Agila, to be calling our people. And we give phones to so called herdsman and the herdsman will be talking to our people, to make such arrangement. We still hold the killings of Ngbo people on Agila people.

"We are going there today, we will be sure that they will never have such opportunity to inflict such injuries on our people. I am going to form the operations of vigilante on that axis, to protect the lives of our people. These are the proceedings today and we condemned totally the killings of Police, Police stations in South East and these have never been done by herdsmen. They are done by people across the South East, bandits and criminals. 

"My directive to policeman is that if you see anybody coming to kill you, demobilize the person, that is the rule of engagement. Police people should not fold their hands, and be killed, vehicles burnt, Police stations burnt," he said.

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