We the Igbo Ekunie Initiative, IEI, comprising individuals in Nigeria and the Diaspora; have observed the appalling insecurity, insurgency and upsurge in terrorism across the nation. More worrying is the growing spate of killings, arson, forceful sit at home and other acts of terrorism in the Southeast, which has effectively widened the theatre of conflicts in Nigeria and inched the nation further towards total collapse. The brutal killing of more than ten persons by cultists in a recent burial in Anambra state and the burning of the house of the Ohanaeze president, Professor George Obiozor by terrorists operating with impunity is one too many.
From increasing spectre of hoodlums brandishing weapons publicly, to wanton killings, arson and Monday sit at home that was cancelled by IPOB but being enforced by hoodlums, Southeast governors and the federal government have largely abandoned government and surrendered to hoodlums, terrorists, cultists and other non-state actors in gross breach of their oath of office.
We remind the governors and president of their oath of office and consequent fundamental constitutional responsibility to protect life and property. A situation where IPOB has cancelled the Monday sit at home but terrorists and all manner of hoodlums continue to forcefully enforce it and shutdown the Southeast every Monday is a gross dereliction of duty by Southeast governors and the federal government. If nothing is done, the Southeast may soon be totally devastated. It’s time for Southeast governors to partner with the federal government and all stake holders to act decisively and halt the slide to anarchy before it’s too late.
We therefore submit and recommend as follows:
That the present state of insecurity that includes terrorism, enforcement of illegal Monday sit at home by hoodlums, cultism amongst others in the Southeast is much worse than kidnapping and threatens the total destruction of the zone in every conceivable way. The Southeast governors must therefore treat it with more urgency and determination than they treated kidnapping in order to eradicate it.
That a dedicated special task force combining all the security services and local vigilante groups across all communities be established to act decisively with coordinated efforts against insecurity in the Southeast.
That a dedicated and confidential phone number be urgently established and widely disseminated so that the public can use it to confidentially give tips and information to security operatives that can lead to the arrest of the hoodlums most of whom are known in their communities.
That significant cash rewards be offered to members of the public who provide actionable information that leads to successful arrest of hoodlums. This would immediately increase the cooperation and participation of the public in the effort to rid southeast of terrorism.
That the government and security services should begin a process of declaring known hoodlums wanted by publishing their pictures, videos etc across all media and soliciting the support of the public with monetary rewards for information to apprehend the hoodlums.
That in order to deny terrorists any sanctuary in Igboland, the homes of all such hoodlums and those who harbour them should be demolished.
That vigilante services across southeast should be empowered and adequately funded to provide ample information and assist in tackling insecurity.
As part of wide-ranging strategy to eradicate terrorism, carrot and stick approach is desirable. To this end, Southeast governors alone or in partnership with the federal government should urgently set up a commission of enquiry headed by Catholic and Anglican Bishops or top members of the clergy to invite all aggrieved individuals and organisations to table their grievances for consideration/ resolution and also offer amnesty and rehabilitation to all repentant gunmen who are willing to lay down their arms and surrender.
This will give the opportunity for a peaceful resolution of the security crisis if the majority of gunmen having observed governments willingness to crack down decides to surrender and be rehabilitated back into society.
Terrorism is un-Igbo and a destructive Cancer that will bring the region to ruin. It must not under any circumstance be tolerated in the Southeast. Regional governors and stakeholders must act with all urgency and see it as an existential crisis that must be eradicated before it’s too late. A stitch in time saves nine.
Chief Chigbo Uzokwelu
Mr Lawrence Nwobu Head of investment and economic directorate