South-east Leaders Push for Legal Backing for Ebube Agu

•Police, others beef up security in govs’ country homes

Chuks Okocha in Abuja, Christopher Isiguzo, Gideon Arinze in Enugu, Emmanuel Ugwu-Nwogo in Umuahia, David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka and Benjamin Nworie in Abakaliki

South-east leaders, comprising governors, religious leaders, traditional rulers and the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, rose from a meeting yesterday in Enugu and asked the Commissioners for Justice and Attorneys-General of the states in the region to quickly fashion out the legal framework for the creation and operations of the regional security outfit, Ebube Agu.

They also committed themselves to work for the establishment of state police in order to effectively tackle insecurity even as they unveiled modalities for the take-off of the regional security outfit with headquarters in Enugu, which they said will work with the police and other security agencies in protecting lives and property in the South-east.

The meeting came a day after gunmen, numbering about 15 and driving in a motorcade of three vehicles, accompanied by a tipper loaded with used tyres stormed the country home of Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma, in Omuma Oru East Local Government Area and burnt down the property and appurtenances.

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) yesterday joined other groups and individuals to condemn the attack on Uzodimma’s country home, saying the attackers constituted a small league of persons trying to harm Nigeria’s corporate existence.
However, the incident has prompted the police and other security agencies to beef up security around the country homes of Uzodimma’s colleagues in the region.
The South-east leaders agreed on the structure and operational modalities of Ebube Agu and to set up an advisory board for the security outfit.

In a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting and signed by the Chairman of the South-east Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief Dave Umahi, the leaders also directed the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr. George Obiozor, to immediately form two committees, including the South-east Peace and Reconciliation Committee to promote the peace and security of lives of the people and visitors; and a strategy and welfare committee to engage and protect the people, especially those who are being unfairly treated.

The meeting also condemned the attacks on the country home of Uzodimma, while calling on the federal government to fish out the perpetrators and ensure their prosecution.

“It restated their commitment to state laws banning open grazing in the South-east and urged security agencies and the local vigilantes to enforce the ban in all the states,” the leaders said.

Addressing journalists at the end of the meeting, Umahi said: “The forum re-stated their adoption of a common joint security outfit, Ebube Agu with regional headquarters in Enugu,” adding that they agreed to set up an advisory board for the outfit.

Umahi said the meeting also declared its support for restructuring, the setting up of state police and other national issues as discussed at the last National Economic Council (NEC) meeting.

He stated that a committee has been set up to work out the modalities and submit them to NEC at its next meeting.
Umahi said they also agreed on the implementation of various EndSARS youth empowerment programmes in the zone as soon as possible.

Chairman, South-east zone of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Bishop Goddy Okafor, also said the leadership of the association was ready to support the governors in their establishment of the joint security outfit.

Attack on Uzodimma’s Home, Threat to Nigeria’s Existence, Says NGF

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum has condemned the attack by gunmen on the country home of Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma.
The governors called for the arrest and prosecution of the attackers, whom they described as constituting a small league of persons trying to harm Nigeria’s corporate existence.

The NGF, in a statement by its Chairman and Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, warned against the growing violence in the country, stating that no one has monopoly of violence.

Also, the governors sympathised with their colleague, Uzodimma, over the attack on his country home.
“For those behind these crimes, they must understand that they do not have the monopoly of violence. This is taking criminality to reckless and irresponsible heights,” the governors said.

They sympathised with Uzodimma and commiserated with all those injured or killed.
The governors called on Nigerians to cooperate with security forces and the government in building a civil, safe and secure environment for the citizens.

“All hands must be on deck to fish out the perpetrators of this dastardly act as in our view, they constitute a small league of persons trying to harm the corporate existence of our beloved country, Nigeria,” the governors added.

Security Beefed up in South-east Govs’ Homes

The police and other security agencies have beefed up security at the country homes of governors of the South-east, THISDAY’s investigation has revealed.
The security beef-up followed Saturday’s attack on Uzodimma’s country home in Imo State.
The assault was about the fourth in the state in the last four weeks.

The state police command headquarters and the state headquarters of the National Correctional Centre, both in Owerri, the state capital, were attacked on April 5. That was in addition to assaults on other police formations in the state.
The series of attacks were blamed on the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB).

In a retaliatory attack, the tactical team of Nigeria Police, Nigerian Army, and Department of State Services (DSS), in a joint operation early Saturday morning, stormed the operational headquarters of the Eastern Security Network (ESN), the military wing of the proscribed IPOB, in Awomama, Oru East Local Government Area of Imo State, killing seven members of the group.

The army said in a statement that Ikonso Commander, who was said to be the commander of the IPOB military, was among seven persons killed in the gunfight.

The statement confirmed that a Second Lieutenant and three policemen paid the supreme price in the firefight that ensued.
However, to forestall further attacks on the homes of the South-east governors, security agencies have intensified surveillance on the homes of the governors.

THISDAY gathered that there has been increased security presence at the Umuobiakwa village in Obingwa Local Government of Abia State where the state Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, hails from.

The governor had at the weekend raised the alarm that IPOB had passed death sentence on the South-east governors.
“I am under their fatwa now and some of my brother governors. They say, ‘If you see them, kill them,” Ikpeazu had said in Abuja.

Investigation revealed that the Ururuka road (old Umuahia-Aba road), where his country home is located was saturated with security posts, including the army and the police.

At least three police stations had been burnt across the state.
The spokesperson of the state police command, Mr. Geoffrey Ogbonna, a superintendent of police, said the police would continue to provide adequate security to all citizens. He said it was not proper to put in the public space the strategies that the police had put in place to checkmate hoodlums and other criminal elements.

Security has also been beefed up at the hometown of Ebonyi State Governor, Chief David Umahi, at Uburu in Ohaozara Local Government Area of the state.

Some of the security personnel include soldiers, police and other security agencies with Armoured Personnel Carrier (APCs).
THISDAY gathered that the boundary from Awgu in Enugu State to Uhuru was also condoned off by security agents and local vigilante.

It was also observed that the vigilante group of the state’s Neighbourhood Watch also mounted checkpoints around the Umunga- Uhuru, hometown of the governor.
All roads around the New and Old Government Houses have been barricaded and heavily guarded by stern-looking security operatives.
Also condoned off by the police are the state police command headquarters, correctional centre, and the Old Government House.

However, Umahi’s spokesman, Mr. Francis Nwaze, told THISDAY that there was no cause for alarm
Security has also been beefed up at the country home of the Anambra State Governor, Mr. Willie Obiano, in Aguleri, Anambra East Local Government Area of the state.

THISDAY gathered that there was a noticeable increase in security in the governor’s country home, as security personnel were not only manning his gate but have moved towards a major road that leads to his house.
The Anambra State Police Command has said there was no fear that Obiano’s home would be attacked as there was enough security there already.

The state Police Command’s Public Relations Officer, Mr. Tochukwu Ikenga, a deputy superintendent of police, told THISDAY, that there was enough “24 hours’ security surveillance by men of the command.

He said: “We have long beefed up security in the state. What we are only appealing is that Anambra people will always volunteer information to the police because that is the reason for the feat we have so far achieved.”

Asked to speak about the new strategies deployed, Ikenga said it was not meant to be shared with members of the public.
“That is our strategy and we will not share it with anybody. What I can tell you is that there is a special force in town that is holding 24 hours surveillance in the state,” he said.

In Enugu State, the police have also beefed up security in and around the country home of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi in Orba, Udenu Local Government Area in the state.
THISDAY gathered that the number of security operatives at his country home located along old Enugu – Otukpo Road, has been increased.

The investigation also revealed that all the roads commuters used to ply around the Government House in Enugu, have been blocked with an inscription: “Road Blocked.”
Also the two lanes from Okpara Square to the Government House were also blocked.

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