By Dons Eze, PhD
“Inyanga de sleep, trouble go wake am”.
What has the Igbo, or the South East geopolitical zone, in particular, done to Nigeria? Why are they provoking the people to action, and perhaps, to another war? Why are they looking for trouble where none exists? Of all the six geopolitical zones in the country, the South East Zone, and perhaps, the South South, are the most peaceful. Yet, the Nigerian federal government has decided to launch a military attack on the South East, for no justifiable reason.
Why? Is it because the Igbo fought for Biafra and they want to punish them for that? Is it because they are envious of the progress and peacefulness existing in the South East, and they want to instigate another war in the area? Look at the speed with which the Federal Government had proscribed the Indigenes People of Biafra (IPOB) and declared it a terrorist organization in 2017, while the IPOB had not done one-quarter of what Miyetti Allah has been doing, yet the group has not been proscribed.
Sunday Igboho and the Amotekun Security Network are currently busy smoking out criminals from the forests of the South West, yet, the Nigerian military has not gone after them. Why are they after the South East? What have the people done to them? If they no longer want to have the Igbo or the South East in Nigeria, let them come out openly and say so.
We have a group of people who call themselves government. They told us to surrender to them, that they would secure our lives and properties. We agreed and did as they demanded. When however we began to be attacked and buffeted right, left and centre by some criminals or bandits operating as herdsmen, we ran to the government and asked them to come to our protection, but they ignored us, or looked the other way.
As they say, it is only a tree that is told that it will be cut down that will remain in the same place. So, in obedience to that first law of nature, which is self-presevation, or self defence, and in line with what our Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi, had just told us, that Nigerians should defend themselves against banditry attacks, members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), decided to make security arrangements for the defence and protection of the people of the South East zone.
That was how the IPOB came about in establishing the Eastern Security Network (ESN), to see to the defence and protection of the people of the South East Zone against the activities of bandits that have been disturbing and terrorizing the people of the area.
The Eastern Security Network does not disturb anybody. They are only camped in the forests in order to root out criminal elements hiding and operating from the area. But for reasons which we can hardly understand, the Nigerian military, for the past two weeks, have been engaged in both air and land bombardments of the peaceful area of the South East, in particular, Orlu, Orsu and Njaba Local Government Areas of Imo State.
According to the Public Relations Officer of the 34 Artillery Brigade, Nigerian Army, Obinze, Lieutenant Babatunde Zubairu, the Nigerian Military had launched joint military and Police operations in Orsu local government area of Imo State and its neighboring communities, following intelligence reports of the existence and establishment of illegal camps allegedly built by suspected members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), the Eastern Security Network (ESN).
According to Lt. Zubairu, “available intelligence reports reveal that some unknown armed men suspected to be members of the Eastern Security Network of IPOB, have built illegal training camps in the areas with the intention of causing breach of security and destabilizing peace in the area. In an effort to ensure that there is no breakdown of law and order, the group of security operatives, including the Nigerian Army, Airforce and Police, stormed the area to raid these illegal camps”.
He claimed that the military were applying “professional rules of engagement as Military Helicopters have been deployed to the area in search of the illegal camps by the suspected members of Eastern Security Network to prevent any breach of security”.
But that is not true. Reports had it that trouble broke out early in January this year, when a joint security team of the Nigerian Police went in search of Eastern Security Netwirk in Orlu after the ESN sacked foreign Fulani settlers in the forests around Orlu. The police went after the ESN and got beaten in their own game, which resulted in the invasion of Orlu by Nigerian Army, since the police-led operation failed.
The outcome of the invasion had resulted in many deaths of innocent civilians and casualty in the side of the military. Since then, Orlu has not known peace, citizens and residents of Orlu have been on the run because the military had descended on the town, shooting and bombing from hovering helicopters. A video circulating on social media had children crying uncontrollably and adults wondering what was actually happening.
Meanwhile, a source had claimed that at least one helicopter belonging to the Nigerian Airforce was shot down by the Eastern Security Network (ESN.
In any case, we have seen that the interest of the federal government lies more in safeguarding the criminal elements hiding in the forests, but operating as herdsmen, than in securing the lives and properties of many law-abiding Nigerians going about their normal businesses. That was why they promptly despatched their fighting forces to attack members of the Eastern Security Network.
Again, we would like the federal government and the Nigerian Military to tell us why the camps set up in Igbo forests by the Fulani herdsmen, from where they have been terrorizing the people of the South East with their AK-47 rifles, were legal, while the camps built by the Eastern Security Network in their own forests, from where they were smoking out criminals who were harassing their people, were illegal.
In other words, while the federal government would embrace criminal elements hiding in Igbo forests, and who from there, have been terrorizing and making life miserable and uncomfortable for the people of the South East, they would not tolerate members of Eastern Security Network who have been protecting the lives and properties of the people.
We will therefore join former Presidential spokesman, Reno Omokiri in asking our President: “How does it make sense to send soldiers, helicopters and artillery to Orlu, because of Eastern Security Network that do not kill or abduct Nigerians, and then send a delegation to negotiate with killer herdsmen, bandits and other terrorists that kill Nigerians?
“How does it make sense for you to rain down bullets in the forests of Orlu, and rain down amnesty on the forest dwelling bandits of Niger, Katsina and Zamfara? Can there be peace, progress and prosperity where there is no justice?”
Nigeria is a bundle of contradictions, where criminals are handsomely rewarded, while those who fight the criminals are severely punished. It is a country of the more you look, the less you see!