BEVERLY HILLS, June 06, (THEWILL) – CHARLES IKE writes on the security situation in Ebonyi State and how the government plans to tackle it
This is not the best of time for Nigeria. The current security challenge, no doubt, has brought the country to her kneels. From the North to the South, the story is the same. If it is not banditry, killer herdsmen, unknown gunmen, it is the Boko Haram insurgency.
The situation is overwhelming, such that nobody is safe any longer. The security agencies are even the worst hit. Many security personnel have paid the supreme price, while trying to secure the lives and property of fellow citizens, just as their facilities have been targets for attacks.
Ebonyi State, like most other states in the country, has had its fair share of the prevailing security crisis. From the time of the EndSARS protests till this moment, Ebonyi has been enmeshed in a difficult and explosive security situation.
For instance, no fewer than six police divisions have been burnt by unknown hoodlums and many policemen lost their lives during several attacks on police facilities in the state.
Unfortunately, the attacks took a dramatic turn for the worst in the past one month, thereby resulting in the killing of many policemen and military men by criminals described as unknown gunmen mostly at checkpoints and police facilities; the massacre of innocent and law abiding citizens by killer herdsmen and inter/intra communal related killings in the South-East and South-South States and Ebonyi, in particular.
The Governor of the state, David Umahi, has made efforts to tackle these security challenges headlong, considering the measures he has put in place so far, one of which was the establishment of local vigilante groups across the state.
The establishment of the South-East security outfit, codenamed Ebube-Agu, which has become operational in Ebonyi State, is also a right step in the right direction.
In furtherance of his efforts to ensure watertight security, Governor Umahi has also imposed a curfew on all exit and entry points to Ebonyi State from 8pm to 6am till further notice. The objective is to check the worsening insecurity in the state.
Umahi, who made the declaration while briefing journalists on the outcome of a meeting of the state security council held at the governor’s office in Abakaliki, directed the chairmen of local government areas in the state, security agencies and the officials of Ebube-Agu to ensure strict enforcement of the curfew.
On the murder of security agents and civilians, the governor directed the security agencies to fish out the killers within 72hours and to put an end to all criminal activities in the state.
He also announced a ban on wake-keeps and other social activities beyond 6pm, and warned that violators would be adequately sanctioned.
Reacting to the recent killings in Ngbo in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of the State, the Umahi alleged that the Agila in Benue State hired mercenaries who did the killing. He said that it would be the last of such killings in the state, as his administration was determined to protect the citizens of Ebonyi against unnecessary attacks.
Gunmen recently attacked Ngbo community, killing not less than 15 residents and burning many houses. While the state government accused a community in neigjhbouring Benue State of masterminding the attack, the natives insisted it was carried out by herdsmen.
Lamenting that the social media had become a tool in the hands of some people for disseminating fake news, Umahi disclosed that the council had directed the security agencies to crack down on anyone found spreading fake news in the state.
He said, “We agreed that fake news is rampant in Ebonyi State. For example, somebody posted that herdsmen were killing people in the state and schools started closing down and people started running helter-skelter. Is that what we are going to continue to tolerate?
“So, I have directed that anybody posting fake news should be tracked down and made to prove whatever he or she is posting.”
On the curfew and violence in the state, the governor added, “We have directed that all wake keep in the state must end by 6pm and the local government council chairmen, the security agencies and Ebube-Agu must enforce it. In fact, all social activities must end by 6pm and if you are caught doing otherwise, you will be made to pay a minimum of N1m. A lot of criminal activities happen when we allow wake-keeps to take place at night.
“We appeal to our people to stop killing security men and innocent civilians in the state. We want them to stop burning down government infrastructure. There is no agitation in this criminality. Those that killed policemen in Onueke took their guns and went to Umuoghara in Ezza North to rob and kill innocent quarry operators.
“Does agitation imply that you must go to Onueke and shot a bank manager and rob the bank? It is pure criminality and the state security apparatus must descend on the criminals.
“We have directed that Okada riders must form their own vigilante because 90 percent of our security problems are coming from those operating commercial motorcycles in the state. If after seven days they failed to do that, we will ban commercial motorcycles from operating inIEbonyi, especially within the state capital.
“We have a law banning okada from operating in designated areas, especially in the dualised roads in the state and that will take effect from today. It has to be reinforced.
“We can now confirm as a state that Agila people in Benue State hired the herdsmen mercenaries that came and did the killings in Ngbo. That is one killing that won’t happen again. We are determined to protect our people.
“Our ban means that night clubs must not operate beyond 6pm. If we don’t convict you when you defy this order on security ground, we will convict you on COVID-19 violation. So, there is no escape.”
Governor Umahi has also held town hall meetings with all the clans in the state to get their buy-in in his efforts to tackle insecurity in the state.