By Mazi Omife I. Omife MON
(Mbuze Mbaukwu) Omifelord@gmail.com
I have never been a prophet of doom.
I don’t claim to be a born-again Christian either.
But I see things afar.
I am one of the first onye Igbo to raise the alarm about the collapsing security architecture in Igbo land.
I shouted and cried.
I wrote so many articles in both regular and social media.
I called the attention of South East governors.
I called the attention of Ohanaeze Ndigbo and Diapsora Igbos.
In desperation, I remembered IPOB. I remembered ESN. Both had been proscribed.
I asked questions.
How come that the hundreds of Hausa Fulani teenagers that used to move in drones in all major cities of the South East States as cobblers, manicures, walkabout tailors and other menial trades suddenly veered into Keke transport business, all with new brand Keke Napeps.
Go to all the mosques in all the South East cities where these abokis used to gather in their hundreds with their articles of trade every Friday afternoon for their Jumat prayers, and you now see a long fleet of new brand Keke vehicles with only a sprinkle of cobblers and manicures among them. What happened?
Nobody answered me.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not a sadist who hates people’s prosperity, be you Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa, Fulani or oyibo. Not at all.
It is just about being security conscious on behalf of my Igbo people, never ever forgetting the indelible memory of Okokon Ndem, the legendary Biafran war-time broadcaster and his immortal epigram: Onye nd’iro gbara gburugburu n’eche ndu ya nche oge nine, umu Biafra, una arahuna ura! (A person surrounded by enemies is always on security alert.)
I asked another question.
There was a time a cluster of Hausa Fulani and some Igbos were ordered by the court to evacuate the land where they were doing business known as new artisan, to enable the bona fide land owners to take possession, but the trespassers resisted the court order, prompting the deployment of a combined team of the army and police to eject them forcefully.
It turned to be a fierce battle between the Hausa Fulani people and the security agents, who were forced to beat a retreat for reinforcement, due to the superior fire power of their opponents, before the land could be cleared of the trespassers.
I asked questions. Where did the Hausas get these sophisticated weapons?
Nobody answered me.
The time a Methodist prelate was kidnapped at Isuochi in Abia State, after he regained his freedom, afte paying a ransom of N100 million, the prelate confirmed his kidnapers were Hausa Fulani and gave a detailed account of the routes the kidnappers took them through the forest up to the point of their release.
I raised a voice, calling on the South East governors as the Chief security officers of the region to summon a joint army and air force operation of the forest to track down and flush out the kidnapers from the area, using the Prelate’s point of release as bearing.
More recently, the little forest along four-corner/Ozalla-Udi road, which is just a dot in a circle (apologies to President Buhari) suddenly became a flash point of kidnapers. If the SECURITY AUTHORITIES were serious, all they could have done was to mobilize military helicopters to comb the little bush and pick up the bandits.
But that was not done.
Rather, it was the local vigilantes at the Udi end of the road that took a security measure of closing the road to traffic from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. to preempt further kidnapping on the road.
I know that there is a military check point at the Enugu –end of the road, a few poles off the express road. One would have imagined that the kidnapers would be scared by the presence of soldiers to operate at that axis.
I know that usually, most criminals will keep miles away of any spot they know that soldiers are stationed. Why are these kidnapers different in this case?
Could this be the reason a popular human rights group as well as Ohanaeze Ndigbo recently accused the military of complicity in the current upsurge of kidnapping in Enugu?
Recall that recently, there was a viral Whatsaap voice note alleging the sighting of a helicopter dropping people in the vicinity of coal camp hills. Similar allegations were also made for four-corner area in Enugu.
But both the police and army spokesmen debunked both allegations, based as they said, on investigations. I don’t know the nature of the investigations.
I did not myself take the allegations serious and that was why I did not say or write anything on the matter. But the recent escalation of kidnapping and killing in several parts of Igbo land makes me wonder, since the perpetrators of these violence cannot possible come from the moon.
Now look at what is happening at Eha-Amufu, which has been boiling with mass killing of natives by suspected Fulani herdsmen for over one year now, which skyrocketed in the last two months.
This is why it is important for the government to do a proper investigation into security allegations in connection with the new wave of kidnapping and killing by Fulani herdsmen . For instance, Eha-Amufu natives were reported to have alleged that security agents hardly come to the scene whenever Fulani herdsmen invade their community, but each time the natives confront the Fulani invaders in self-defence, security agents invade their community to arrest people here and there. But nobody knows how far the government has investigated this serious allegation.
Now that Hausa abatago Awka in Igbo in Igbo land, it appears like a situation of “To your house, O Israel” and everyone to himself.
But God forbid we should allow this situation to persist or abandon our people to this fate. I believe a solution is possible, and feasible.
- Governors of the South East should come together this time. I have made this call for over ten times in my write-ups. We are aware that most of the governors are involved in campaign for one elective office or the other, which will not allow them time to fight insecurity. Any of them who is not seeking for any office should be therefore appointed as chairman of South East governors for immediate action on south east security.
- Army and police authorities should ensure weekly re-deployment of soldiers and policemen at all check points so that no batch stays in one check point beyond one week. This is to avoid familiarization and fraternization of security personnel with active or prospective criminals in a given area or community.
- In the case of four-corner-Udi road, there should be at least two additional security check points at the middle and Udi-end of the road. The one check point at the Enugu end is too far from the main crime area on that road.
- Since the precise areas of crime operation across Igbo land are known, security agents should organize regular ambush in those areas. Well-armed security personnel should use bullet proof security vehicles with disguised security back-up vehicles to patrol the various vulnerable areas in Igbo land, particularly Eha-Amufu in order to attract and track the criminals.
- The government should introduce the idea of joint army, police and local vigilante security at check points as the local vigilante have full knowledge of the local terrain to track criminals as well as escape route for the security team in case of security emergency.
- Heads of security agencies should establish monitoring squads to monitor the activities of security personnel at check-points to show adherence to professional discipline and ethics.
- It is known that most security personnel at various check-points in both urban town and express roads recruit civilian agents to collect money from commuters, and in the process, cause long queues that cause a lot of delay to road users targeting to get to their destination before dark and making many people fall into the hands of kidnappers and other criminals.
- Such long queues, which are now rampant in Igbo land also constitute serious security as terrorists and unknown gun men prowling across Igbo land can detonate a conflagration that will consume thousands of people in one swoop.
Besides terrorist attack, such long queues that invariably include several petrol tankers constitute grave security risk in cases of accidents or explosion due to high temperature. If nothing else, such queues must be avoided at periods of heavy traffic including festivities especially on steep roads like ninth mile – Enugu express road and similar roads across Igbo land.
- Finally, information is very vital for effective security operation. Many members of the public know criminals living in their area or communities, but are afraid to report them to security agents out of fear of the police leaking their identity to the criminals with its risky implication.
Every State governor in Igbo land should devise a secure information channel which citizens can use to transmit security information from their respective local governments and communities. The governors will be amazed at the startling but useful security information through such channels.
The foregoing are home-grown security tips recommended as measures of urgent necessity in the present circumstance in Igbo land.
If these recommendations fail to appeal to the political will of South East governors in the face of the present danger facing Ndigbo, it can only mean that their consciences are completely dead and untouched by the ongoing festival of deaths and kidnapping in Igbo land, and the billions of ransom money that is steadily ruining the economy of Igbo nation.
Should the governors remain adamant and insensitive, then Igbos are in grave danger and everyone to himself.
But karma and posterity will not forget their betrayal.
Mazi Omife I. Omife
Mbuze Mbaukwu firstname.lastname@example.org