SECESSIONIST group the Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob) has been warned by the South East Governors Forum to refrain from interfering in its plans to float the regional security network Ebubeagu or face dire consequences for obstructing the programme.
Last weekend, the South East Governors Forum announced plans to launch Ebubeagu, modelled similarly to the Amotekun Corps in southwest Nigeria to provide security in the region. At a security meeting in Owerri, Imo State capital, on Sunday, the five southeast governors announced the establishment of the body, which will have its headquarters in Enugu.
However, Ipob, which has its own armed wing called the Eastern Security Network (ESN), enjoined youths and other people in the area to distance themselves from the security outfit. Ipob spokesman Emma Powerful, said that the formation of Ebebuagu was suspicious, alluding to the fact that it may be used to sabotage ESN.
Mr Powerful said: “Anyone who neglects this warning and thinks he can hide under the cloak of Ebubeagu to spy on ESN should be prepared to join his ancestors. It has come to the attention of the Indigenous People of Biafra that southeast governors have shamefully and belatedly announced the formation of an abstract security outfit called Ebubeagu to secure the zone from Fulani terrorist herdsmen they allotted our ancestral lands.”
Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, tasked the ESN to join forces with Ebubeagu to protect Igboland against killer herdsmen. It appears that this offer has been rebuffed, however, forcing Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State, the chairman of the South East Governors Forum to warn Ipob that the ESN was an illegal entity.
Governor Umahi said: “The problem of this country is that people will leave their problems and make your problem their problem. However, what some of these people are doing is to incite the southeast into war and step aside, and we are not going to buy into that, as we’re not going to be deceived again.”
He said Ebubeagu was created primarily to protect lives and properties in the southeast and was set up in compliance with the constitution. According to the governor, what had happened was an amendment of the laws of each of the five southeast states to enable operatives of existing vigilante groups operate across borders to track down criminals, while also sharing intelligence.
Governor Umahi added: “Operatives of Ebubeagu have been operating in the southeast as Forest Guards, Neighbourhood Watch before now. These have fused together as Ebubeagu for members to share intelligence and go across borders to track down criminals.”
He added that bandits were committing crimes in the southeast under the guise of ESN and insisted that governors of the region would not allow what he described as illegality to reign in the area. According to the governor, leaders in the southeast would not allow criminals to have a field day in the area, stressing that Ebubeagu would tackle insecurity in Igboland.
“Of late, we have bandits that are now doing a lot of evil and saying that they are Eastern Security Network. They commit a lot of crimes and say they are Ipob and most of the time, Ipob will come and say we have no hands in this, we have no hands in that,” Governor Umahi added.