Abakaliki: Oganihu Ebonyi, a pressure group comprising Ebonyi State professionals has urged the Ebonyi State Governor, Engr Dave Umahi to put a stop to violent attacks and avoidable deaths in the state.

A statement issued by the organization on Saturday signed by Dr. Laz Ude Eze and Mr. Ani, Nwachukwu Agwu, Oganihu Ebonyi Convener and Director of Research & Strategy, respectively reads:

“In the last 6 months, the Ebonyi State security system has been deeply agitated. The state is in the spotllight for securitly breaches, deteriorations and outright breakdowns. Nonetheless, security analyses are skewed towards two sources – separatist agitations and violent pastoralism (killer herdsmen). Certainly, these factors exist but they are grossly insufficient categorisations in conceptualising the nature of attacks. Due to this coarse characterisation, policymakers have often missed the point in their models and propositions for conflict management and peace-building interventions.

Against this backdrop, Oganihu Ebonyi conducted a research to examine the different shades of attacks, which often lack policy attention that citizens endure in their daily lives. It is our persuasion that it is only through a holistic conceptualisation and framing of attacks (reflecting contours and local dynamism) that lasting solutions can be forged.

We identified 26 violent attacks reported on reputable national news platforms between 1st January and 13th May 2021. While we are continuously understudying and reviewing incidents to appreciate their metamorphosis and/or evolution, we want to share our preliminary findings today and make recommendations that will guide Governor David Nweze Umahi administration as it commemorates the 6th anniversary of coming assuming the office.

The 26 violent attacks were reported in 10 of 13 LGAs of the state (all LGAs except Afikpo South, Ezza North and Ikwo). In these attacks, a total of 143 unfortunate deaths occurred. Strikingly, 39 deaths (27.27%) resulted from communal clashes – the most reported form of attack; closely followed by 33 deaths (23.07%) from political thuggery and 28 deaths (19.58%) from killer herdsmen. Notwithstanding, the phenomenon of Unknown Gunmen (UGM) accounting for 12 deaths (8.39%) was prominently reported in the state. Although UGM is relatively a new phenomenon, it is a frightful and worrisome mutant of violent attacks, having been reported in about half of all the Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the state. We shall release the detailed Preliminary Report of the Ebonyi Security Surveillance Study in the coming days.

Moreover, as responsible and patriotic citizens of Ebonyi State strongly committed to its sustainable economic growth and human capital development, we hereby make the following recommendations to the Ebonyi State Government;

  1. We restate our earlier recommendations to the State House of Assembly to enact a law banning open grazing of cattle and other livestock in the state. This should be treated as a matter of urgency in view of the recent killings attributed to herdsmen and the rising security tensions in the state. We are glad the Southern Governors endorsed this recently.
  2. The Governor should send an executive bill for an act of the House of Assembly for the establishment of the Ebubeagu security outfit, in line with the decision of the SEGF. The law should clearly establish their powers, rules of engagement and accountability framework.
  3. The Umahi administration and the opposition should stop the apparent politicization of security breakdowns in the state. A preponderance of reported cases linked to political thuggery is unwelcome. We encourage the state government to bare its fangs against tendencies to politicize attacks. At the risk of overemphasis, politicization of violent attacks does not only contaminate exhibits that aid investigations and prosecutions, but it diminishes victims’ chances of securing justice and works to perpetuate violent struggles in poor societies beleaguered with weak democratic institutions.
  4. Security agencies must speed up their appetites for timely arrests before, during and after attacks, as a deterrence mechanism. While conducting arrests, the unbridled tendency for extrajudicial executions must be discouraged by top echelons of the state government.
  5. The government at the state and local levels must ensure a stricter regulation of the activities of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and other bands of Task Forces in various motor parks. To disrupt potential breeding grounds for political thuggery in the state, all forms of touting should be outlawed with laws duly enacted for such purpose by the House of Assembly.
  6. Strengthen formal and informal institutions of governance and re-establish genuine connection with communities and local leaders with a view to rebuilding trust and “partnerships that work” for the delivery of democratic dividends particularly on the protection of lives and properties.
  7. Implementation of genuine, transparent and result-oriented poverty reduction schemes. The youths should be targeted for reputable skill acquisition training (capacity building) to unleash their latent capabilities in the local economy. We are not unaware of the various schemes implemented in the past by the government but there is no empirical evidence that it has lifted Ebonyians out of poverty nor reduced the unemployment rate. Subsequent interventions should be delivered by the state government, development partners and the civil society.

At this point, we cannot hide our conviction that human insecurity cannot be successfully separated from violent crimes and civil disturbances. Both in human and material terms, containing violence is costly but the price of inaction, negligence and/or haphazard response is costlier.

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