Insecurity: ‘South-East under siege’ – Governors cry to Buhari, rest Ebubeagu


Over one year after they launched the ineffective Ebubeagu security outfit, the South-East Governors are at it again.

The governors had gathered in Imo State precisely in April 2021 following an orgy of violence by herdsmen and unknown gunmen.

After the meeting, they launched Ebubeagu regional security to fight insecurity in the zone.

Chairman, South-East Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, who spoke to journalists after the meeting, said the regional security would be the joint vigilante for the Southeast with their headquarters in Enugu State.

Governors in attendance were Governor of Abia State, Okezuo Ikpeazu, Anambra, Willie Obiano, Enugu, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Ebonyi, Dave Umahi and the host governor, Hope Uzodinma, as well as the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo world-wide, Professor George Obiozor and top security chiefs in the zone.

It was, however, reported that one year after, the Ebubeagu refused to roar. It was only established in Imo and Ebonyi States, with sad tales from residents. However, Enugu had put in place a Forest Guard prior to the launching of Ebubeagu.

The Ebubeagu outfit was alleged to have been converted into a hit group against members of opposition parties by the governors.

Apart from the allegations of abuse, the Ebubeagu could not get the desired support from the governors, prompting the Chairman of the South-East Security Committee, Major General Obi Umahi (retd.), to resign. Umahi was appointed to coordinate the operations of the outfit in the zone.

In his resignation letter dated June 4, 2021, titled, ‘Resignation as Chairman South-East Security Committee – Ebube Agu’ and addressed to Chairman of the South East Governor’s Forum, Umahi disclosed that his committee was never funded while no office was provided for them through the duration.

He had said, “On 11th April, 2021, SE governors announced the formation of Ebube Agu at Owerri. Subsequently, the draft legal framework produced by the 21-man Committee was reviewed by SE Security Committee members and the Attorney Generals of the five SE States to suit South East Ebubeagu Security outfit.

“The SE Security Committee thoroughly prepared and submitted the modalities, including the structure, for the take-off of Ebube Agu to the Governors’ Forum during the security of South-East Governors’ Forum, attended by the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide and some other Igbo leaders, a request that Ebube Agu should be jointly rolled out as a matter of urgency and also funded by the governments of the five South-East states. From inception to date, SE Security Committee was never funded at all in any capacity and not even an office space was provided.”

With his sudden and shocking resignation, it was clear that Ebubeagu as a regional outfit was gone.

A security expert, Gilbert Ndukwe, while speaking on the situation said, “the death of the regional outfit paved the way and boosted the masses’ confidence in the Eastern Security Network, ESN, formed by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.

“You know that nature abhors vacuum, so the IPOB capitalised on the lack of political will by the govenors to jointly tackle insecurity in the zone. The ESN, though a non-state actor, received accolades from the residents, as they saw it as the only alternative.

“Unlike the Amotekun that is thriving in the South-West, the Ebubeagu could not gain momentum in the South-East and it is a big minus.”

It was reported that on Sunday, the Governors met again and announced that they were forming a joint patrol.

This was after they had decried the level of insecurity in the zone, urging the Federal Government to take urgent measures.

The South-East has been under siege with activities of unknown gunmen and kidnappers who are said to be of Fulani origin. They have been on a rampage in Abia, Ebonyi, Imo, Anambra and have lately intensified their attacks on Enugu residents.

The governors held a closed-door meeting at the Government House, Enugu, where they prevailed on the Federal Government to take decisive action with the 2023 election around the corner.

The meeting was attended by Enugu State Governor, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (host), Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State and Ebonyi State Governor/Chairman of the South East Governors Forum, Engr. David Umahi, while the governors of Anambra and Imo states, Prof. Charles Soludo and Senator Hope Uzodinma were represented by their deputies, Dr. Onyekachukwu Ibezim and Prof. Placid Njoku, respectively.

The governors agreed to set up a 24-hour joint patrol in all major highways within the South East, especially during the Christmas season.

Speaking, Gov. Umahi disclosed that the “South East governors decried the state of insecurity in the region”, adding that economic activities in the zone have come to a halt “while kidnapping and wanton killing have become the order of the day.”

Not done yet, the governors denied any link with the Eastern Security Network (ESN), stating that “South East Governors Forum jointly formed Ebubeagu and Forest Guards not ESN. So, it is not correct for any person to allude to the fact that South East governors created ESN.”

It was however, curious that the Anambra Governor, Prof. Charles Soludo was conspicuously absent during the meeting, the first since he assumed office.

Coordinator of the Civil Liberties Organisation, CLO, in the South-East, Comrade Kindness Jonah did not hide his disappointment.

He told newsmen that, “the Governors do not seem ready to tackle insecurity in the zone. I do not fathom why they will gather for a meeting only to come up with such empty communique.

“These are the same people who set up Ebubeagu, but one year after, we could not see any tangible thing except the use of the outfit to suppress opposition. Now, they are talking about joint patrol, so what is the difference? You can see that they are just playing to the gallery.

“Those Governors should sit up to their primary responsibility which is protection of life and property. We cannot continue with this endless circle, it is shameful.

“The kind of kidnapping going on in the zone is shameful. You don’t support ESN, you have Ebubeagu, so where is their so-called Ebubeagu when the kidnappers are abducting people here and there, including students?

“Now it is a joint security patrol. Who will command it, who will take the final authority? Will the chain of command still rest with the Federal Government? Forming a new body is a waste of time and resources.”

He further stated that the absence of Governor Soludo and his Imo counterpart meant that the meeting would not achieve anything tangible.

“How do you explain the fact that Soludo did not attend the first meeting held since he assumed office? This is the same route his predecessor went. You can see that it is programmed; they have any confidence in that meeting. Imo State Governor, Uzodinma is also in the habit of not attending. It shows they are not united; it shows there is sharp division. I think they just met there to discuss politics. It’s all about pecuniary interest. The three Governors that attended are second-term governors. The rest stayed away.

“Uzodinma has an inferiority complex; he does not feel safe to meet with the Igbos because of how he came in. He will rather lean towards the North than meet with the Igbos.

“This totally shows that the meeting is just a jamboree, nothing else. The Governors appear to be helpless over the security challenges facing the region. Now that they have openelly jettisoned Ebubeagu, let us see what comes out of the said joint patrol,” Jonah added.

Residents say with insecurity trying to overrun the zone, they are keenly watching what would come out of the newly launched joint patrol.