Everything is being done both by Enugu state government and the police to restore normalcy to Enugu state and by extension the South-east bedevilled with insecurity. CHUKS NWEZE reports.
Insecurity is in every part of Nigeria; Enugu state is not an exception. Though generally peaceful, it witnesses insecurity from time to time.Before now, there has been news of arson on police stations and other facilities. While other parts of the country had been witnessing attacks on police stations, the first attack in Enugu was carried out at Adani in Uzo-Uwani local government area where two policemen on duty were killed and the station set ablaze.
Thereafter, Enugu began to witness sporadic attacks, this time not directed at police stations, but offices of National Independent Electoral Commission, (INEC). The first of such was INEC office at Obollo Afor, the headquarters of Udenu local government area where Gov Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi hails from.
Subsequently, on May 16 2021, INEC headquarters in the state capital, Enugu was also attacked. The attackers wanted to burn down the entire edifice but first set vehicles ablaze before the state fire service in conjunction with security agents put out the fire.
Governor Ugwuanyi since assuming office in May 2015, has been doing everything possible to secure the state like the unsavoury attack carried out on Ukpabi, Nimbo in Uzo-Uwani local government area where armed Fulani herdsmen invaded the community in 2016, barely a year he came to power. The ugly incident which could be described as the governor’s first baptism of fire gingered him to action. Since then, he has been doing everything possible to see that Enugu remains peaceful.
Efforts of state government
Thereafter, the Gov Ugwuanyi administration has provided logistics to the security agencies in terms of vehicles and communication gadgets. Neighbourhood watches, vigilantes were also provided with logistics to step up their vigilance in order to rid the state of crimes.
When kidnapping in the state took another dimension, Gov. Ugwuanyi set up a Forest Guards security to rid the forests of criminals, especially kidnappers who make the forests their their operational base. Therefore, 1000 individuals were selected from each of the 17 local government areas for a take off.
Despite these security measures, armed herdsmen still kill and maim making farmer to abandon the farm for fear of being killed. In furtherance of security measures, the state government partnered with other South-east governors to form Ebubeagu. Though its mode is yet to be known; it is however believed that any time it takes off, would check the mounting insecurity in the state and the entire region.
As a mark of its seriousness, the state government recently barricaded all entrance to the Government House to check hoodlums from gaining easy access. As a result, there is only one entrance, just as Okpara Square and Nza Street axis were also barricaded.
Operation RP to the rescue
As a follow up, the police also launched Operation Restore Peace in order to restore peace to the state. The Acting Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba was in Enugu to flag off the deadly operation set up mainly to stop the pro-Biafra group, IPOB and ESN from causing trouble in the zone.
Flagging off the squad he said, “It is with a deep sense of commitment to the spirit of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and our policing mandate that I address you on this occasion marking the flag-off of a Special Operational Action Plan which is code named ‘Operation RP’ for the stabilisation of the security order in the South-east geopolitical zone of our dear country.
“The people of South-eastern Nigeria are historically known to be peaceful, tolerant, innovative, industrious and entrepreneurial. They are highly respected citizens that have made their marks in the field of academics, scientific inventions and commerce.
“They are a unique ethnic group that freely and peacefully live with others across the country and within the South-east. “Unfortunately, events of late have altered this positive narrative.
“The zone in recent years has been witnessing increasing cases of kidnapping, armed robbery and communal violence. This trend has of late been laced with inter-ethnic intolerance and separatist agitation as championed by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its armed wing, the Eastern Security Network (ESN).
“The separatist agenda of this group has assumed an armed dimension in which important political and community leaders as well as personnel and assets of the Nigeria police, military and other security agencies are being constantly targeted in clearly well-coordinated, premeditated violent attacks in the region. Aside this, the deepening inter-ethnic prejudice and intolerance in the region is also occasioning unjustifiable inter-ethnic violence and counter-violence. Apart from the massive loss of property and fatalities to lives, the violent campaigns are beginning to have damaging effect on the socio-economic development of the region.
“This trend is being compounded by the illegal proliferation of firearms as well as the deployment of the social media by the leadership of IPOB to indoctrinate, misinform, and misdirect south easterners towards the path of violent separatism. This evolving trend constitutes a major threat to our nation’s internal security and national unity, requires urgent sets of all-inclusive actions in order to roll back the disastrous tide.
“Violent agitation and associated crimes, particularly those that endanger the lives, property and livelihood of the civil populace and threaten our national unity, peace and security in the form being currently noticed do not and can never represent our traditional values as a people.
“Unfortunately, the current armed campaign by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Eastern Security Network (ESN) is constituting a major threat not only to these values, but to our national security and peaceful co-existence as a nation.”
He urged security agencies to fish out IPOB members so that enduring peace would return to the zone.
Blueprint gathered that the police authorities chose Enugu to flag off the operation because it is the zonal headquarter of South-east.
Before this time, it seemed Enugu was becoming a pariah state because of incessant kidnappings to the point that it looked as if clergymen were targeted for extermination. While some were shot dead, many were kidnapped for ransom. It could be recalled the killing of a Roman Catholic priest, Rev Fr Offu who was shot dead by armed herdsmen, a development that angered the Roman Catholic Church to embarked on demonstrations to show their dissent.
However, in recent past, Enugu has witnessed less insecurity until last month when cult wars at which many youths were killed in cold blood resurfaced at different locations in Enugu metropolis. Some residents however wondered why the police boss emphasise a clampdown on IPOB, but did not say anything about the activities of herdsmen.
According to Comrade Kindness Jonah, convener, Voices from the East (VEAST), “The IGP and the police are not serious. If they want to restore peace in the South-east, what did they say about the activities of Fulani herdsmen that armed themselves with sophisticated weapons and have been killing, raping and kidnapping people.
“People are now clamouring for restructuring and the establishment of state police and they are not doing anything about them but only to come here to tell us that they are setting up Operation RP.
“Granted there is crime and criminality everywhere in Nigeria but I don’t see why there should be a special operation in Enugu and South-east to restore peace. According to Daniel Ukwu, founder, Daniel Ukwu Leadership Foundation, (DULF), said, “It is in the north that we have insecurity where there is Boko Haram, ISWAP, bandits and abductions of school children. That is where they should be seeking to restore peace and not here in Enugu or anywhere in the South east.”
On his part, a social affairs analyst, Chief Okoro Mamah, said though there has been the activities of unknown gunmen here and there of which no one knows who are behind, “Enugu is peaceful. Gov. Ugwuanyi is trying. I don’t see the need for the launch of Operation Restore Peace in Enugu or elsewhere in the South East,” he said.