The personality of the culprits of the rising assaults on police offices and its workforce in the South-East international zone has kept on giving Nigerians a reason for concern.
Reports have it that there has been confusion among the government and the security agencies.
Since the shooters started their activity, they have stayed unknown, with blaming fingers proceeding to point in various ways, with cases and counter-claims.
There is no uncertainty that the circumstance in the South-East is turning out to be alarming, following what is by all accounts facilitated and designed assaults on security offices, particularly the police. From Anambra to Imo, Enugu to Ebonyi and Abia, the police appear to have become an imperilled species, with the public authority and the security organizations at a misfortune, in abridging them, yet in recognizing who the culprits are.
A significant sore point in the whole situation is the hurried ends by individuals who are burdened with the obligation of protecting individuals and accused of examination of wrongdoings, particularly the casualty of the assaults, the police
Adamu’s Hasty Conclusion
Nigeria’s immediate past Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, in what may go down as an unprofessional statement, accused the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its security outfit, the Eastern Security Network (ESN) of complicity in the attacks on the headquarters of the Imo State Police Command and the Owerri Correctional Centre on Easter Monday.
The former police chief, in what later became his last official assignment and last day in the police force, was in Owerri, just a day after the attack, making sweeping categorical statements, without even a preliminary investigation.
“Investigation revealed that the attackers are members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)/Eastern Security Network (ESN)”, Adamu said in a statement released by Force spokesman, Frank Mba, moments after Adamu’s visit.
Though the then police boss, according to Mba’s statement said IPOB/ESN were identified as the culprits during ‘investigation’, an appeal by the former IGP in the same statement, appeared contradictory.
“The IGP calls on citizens to avail the Police and other security agencies with useful information that can assist in identifying and arresting the criminals. He vowed that the perpetrators will be brought to book, noting that the Force is doing all within its powers to curb the activities of unscrupulous elements hell-bent on threatening the unity, safety, security and socio-economic wellbeing of Nigerians.”
For those who can read between the lines, what Adamu may have done just amounted to putting the cart before the horse. Making a sweeping statement on a crime as huge as the twin attacks in Owerri without much of an investigative effort, and turning around in the same breath to appeal to citizens to help with information that will help identify the perpetrators of the same crime you have accused someone of.
Uzodinma’s Biased Comment
Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma is believed by many Nigerians, especially in the South-East to have an axe to grind with IPOB. There is no doubt too that IPOB sees in the governor, an antagonist of some sort, especially since Uzodinma invited the military to chase ESN operatives out of the forests of the Orlu area of the state.
So, it was understandable when the governor bought the hasty judgement of Mohammed Adamu by accusing IPOB/ESN of the attacks in Imo and indeed the entire South-East.
Speaking during the visit of Adamu to the attacked Imo Police Command headquarters, Uzodinma called on officers and men of the force to defend themselves against secessionist groups, with their service rifles.
The governor said, “If you can’t attack them, you can at least use your rifles to defend yourselves. Any attack on police formation is an insult to us as a government. It is also an attack on the integrity of the government. We must take charge, take control and ensure discipline.”
Uzodinma Speedy Recant
Just a day after asking operatives of the police to defend themselves against IPOB/ESN members, Governor Uzodinma recanted, saying IPOB had no hand in the attacks. He blamed the attack on ‘aggrieved politicians’
Speaking while appearing as a guest on Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’, the Imo Governor said “a group of aggrieved politicians” sponsored the attacks “to destabilise the government of APC”.
He said: “Their (tactics is that they try to identify grievances of people in a particular area. If it is in Imo State and probably some IPOB people are not happy, they hire hoodlums from outside Imo State, they bring them in pretending to be IPOB and they commit these crimes and they go away.
“So, it is not about IPOB. Yes, we agree, we have aggrieved IPOB members but I can tell you those who are doing this destruction, most of them were brought in from outside Imo State.
“What is important for Nigerians to know is the plot by a group of aggrieved politicians to destabilise the government of APC.
“I have done some thorough investigation and I have some credible leads as to those who are sponsoring these activities of these hoodlums.
“I don’t want to pre-empt the investigations of other security agencies but I can tell you we are working hard to ensure the sponsors of these dastardly acts must be brought to book.”
From the above statement of Governor Uzodinma, the perpetrators of the attacks are politicians and their motive is to ‘destabilise the APC government. The governor also said he has carried out a ‘thorough investigation’ and has a ‘credible lead’. What then are the governor and the security agencies waiting for? What stops them from using the leads to arrest these ‘aggrieved politicians’ and their foot soldiers to stop the ongoing carnage? The only reason is that Uzodinma’s statement may just be another hasty conclusion or a political statement that has no real substance in it.
Umahi’s Bandits Theory
David Umahi, the Ebonyi State Governor, is the Chairman of the South-East Governors Forum, thus he should be very concerned with what is currently playing out in the region. And of course, he has been speaking.
In one of his numerous efforts as providing an answer to the raging debates on who the perpetrators of the attacks in the South-East are, Umahi introduced another theory, banditry!
The Governor, while speaking on a Channels Television programme on Wednesday, said that bandits are responsible for the attacks and not ESN or IPOB.
He said: “Of late, we have bandits that are doing a lot of evil and say that they are Eastern Security Network. They commit a lot of crimes and say that they are IPOB and later IPOB will say they have no hand in it. This is what is going on. We will not allow illegality to thrive in our land. Conflict will not resolve conflict.
“A lot of people want to get to the top by all means and they hire bandits who go to burn police stations, kill people and they come out to say that they are IPOB, they are not IPOB, they are just criminals being hired by people.
“The truth remains that the country is going into extreme politics, it is easier to make money in politics, blackmail people and so, we have departed from the culture of hard work.”
Bandits? That’s the immediate question any Nigerian is bound to ask: have bandits extended their activities to the South-East? What kind of bandits? Igbo or Fulani? What is their grouse or motive behind banditry in the South-East? Questions keep popping up as Umahi keeps Nigerians hanging, without making the necessary clarifications. The confusion continues.
Senator Ogba’s 2023 Theory
Joining the fray to give an insight into the motive for the rising attacks on security agencies in the South-East, the Senator representing Ebonyi Central Senatorial District at the National Assembly, Obinna Ogba said it is linked with the clamour for the zone to produce the next Nigerian President come 2023.
According to him, it was the turn of the South-East to produce the next Nigerian President, warning that nobody should hide under insecurity to deny the zone of what rightfully belongs to it.
“It is the turn of the southeast to produce the next president, nobody is contesting that. No ethnic nationality should hide under the guise of insecurity to deny the region its right.
“Now all of a sudden because the idea of presidency coming to Igbo land has come from probability to possibility, people want to turn Igbo land into a terrorists’ ground.
“The Igbo are builders, not nation breakers. We are not violent people. So, we must find out the cause of the violent spree, kidnappings, and all other acts of criminality in the region.”
The Senator, who stated this at a press briefing shortly after he raised a motion at plenary on Thursday, seems to be convinced about the motive for the attacks but he also failed to clear the doubts of Nigerians as to the identity of the perpetrators. Who are the people trying to scuttle the chances of Igbo people becoming president? How were they able to infiltrate the zone to carry out such coordinated and patterned attacks without detection? The confusion continues.
Senator Ogba’s theory of the 2023 presidency comes a day after the President-General of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Professor George Obiozor said enemies of the South-East are behind the attacks in the zone. Who the enemies are, he also failed to disclose.
The much-vilified secessionist group, IPOB, in a recent statement by its spokesman, Emma Powerful admitted that its ESN is an armed group when he said the weapons they use are manufactured locally.
The group’s statement was a reaction to an allegation by the Department of State Services (DSS) that it was planning attacks on banks in the South-East to enable it to purchase arms.
IPOB, to deny the allegation, said it does not need money to buy arms as their arms are manufactured locally.
Powerful said in the statement: “Our intelligence unit has uncovered fabricated propaganda by the Department of State Services DSS, that Eastern Security Network, ESN is planning to attack banks in Biafraland to acquire money to purchase arms.
“DSS is propelling this wicked propaganda all in a bid to blackmail ESN and IPOB and dent our global reputation.
“We, therefore, wish to debunk this falsehood and blatant lie from the pit of hell. IPOB and ESN are not criminals and we have no plans or agenda to touch any institution particularly banks.
“We are not looking for money to buy arms because we produce our arms locally and cannot attack or kidnap anybody for ransom.
“We don’t inflict pains on the people we are fighting for their freedom. DSS must stop this rubbish and engage their time on something more meaningful. This poor script cannot fly.”
The group, in the statement, also accused security agencies in the country of staging the various attacks in the region and blamed it just to give it a bad name and dent its reputation.
The admittance by IPOB that its operatives are armed, though with locally made weapons, comes after years of proclaiming itself as peaceful unarmed agitators. How the group wants to convince Nigerians that their operatives, who are now armed are not behind the spate of attacks on security agents it has always had running battles with, is left to the group to fashion out.
It will also be recalled that the attacks started and gained prominence shortly after the military, on the invitation of Governor Uzodinma of Imo State, bombarded ESN locations in the Orlu area of the state, chasing them out. How convinced are Nigerians that IPOB/ESN are not merely responding to the military onslaught on them? That’s another question begging for an answer.
Whatever the case may be or whoever is behind the attacks, be it IPOB/ESN, ‘aggrieved politicians’, bandits, ‘enemies of the South-East’ or those who want to scuttle the chances of an Igbo man to become President in 2023, government and the nation’s security agencies must identify them and bring them to book before it is too late.
This is because the current trend in the South-East bears a semblance with the early days of the Boko Haram insurgency, when security agents and their formations became subjects of attacks by the Islamist group before a crush on their activities drove them into hiding, resulting in an insurgency that has spanned more than a decade, killing several thousand and displacing millions.
The time to end the confusion, Nigerians reckon, is now, just before we have in our hands another monster, another insurgency and another killing group roaming the vast forests of the South-East.
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