A security expert, Col. Hassan Stan-Labo (retd.), and a former chairman of the South-East Security Committee, General Obi Umahi (retd.), have differed on the increasing level of insecurity in Imo, Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi and Abia States.
While Stan-Lanbo insisted that the continued breach of security in the South-East should be blamed on years of marginalisation of the region by the government, Umahi stated that governors in the region should take the blame for the killings and kidnapping.
Speaking with Saturday Punch, Stan-Lanbo said, “We need to see the efforts from the government to make the average person on the street to feel safe and have a sense of belonging. Those in authority should try to see that there is enough inclusiveness in the way they go about things.
“Everything should be done to bring in those who feel that they no longer want to be part of the family. They should get them back to the family. It should be by appeasing them and not by using force.
“The year 2023 is coming around; we shall have a fresh set of leaders as well. There will be a new set of appointments. We hope we will not have a situation where those appointed will come from a particular region.
“Such act does not make my country safe for any of us. Those who are creating these problems have two or three passports. As we speak, their children are abroad, but we are here killing each other.
“Solving the problem of insecurity in the South-East will call for a multifaceted approach, including political solutions. It goes beyond the formation of Ebubeagu to enjoy peace in the region. How have you tried to make the Igbo man have a sense of belonging in the Nigerian state?
They say IPOB should be called terrorists. If you ask me, I don’t think they should be called terrorists. The solution is that we should look for a way to bring some of these people to the negotiation table.
“We must talk to several other stakeholders; we must talk to elders in the communities, we must be talking with political leaders. You have to talk to people who these boys can listen to.”
However, Umahi said some politicians and elites from the South-East region were exploiting the fragile security situation in the region for their selfish gains.
He asked Nigerians to blame the sitting governors of the region for the carnage that had characterised the recent development in the South-East.
Speaking during a programme on TVC, Umahi said if the governors were honest with their fight against insecurity in the region, they should have strengthened the regional security outfit, Ebubeagu, with enough finance and moral support to address the menace.
The South-East Governors’ Forum had on August 31, 2019, appointed Umahi as the chairman of the committee.
The committee was asked to draft a framework for the establishment of a South-East joint security outfit to cater to the security needs of the zone.
However, most of the South-East governors were said to have refused to fund the security outfit, a development that made Umahi to resign on June 4, 2021, as chairman of the committee.
The retired soldier noted, “There are some political elites that leverage the security situation in the South-East for their selfish gains. They thought they could use the situation to their advantage during the election. But if the governors were proactive, all of these would have been avoided.
“The issues of insecurity in the South-East were orchestrated by the Indigenous People of Biafra. When some politicians want to settle scores, they begin to look for bandits.
“When it was brewing, as the chairman of the security committee, I noticed that some clerics were propagating IPOB and I condemned it. But people were afraid and refused to speak out against it.’’
“I knew what to do, but the means to do it was not available. A General does not like a situation where he knows that he can deal with a thing but does not have the resources to deal with it. That is frustration.