The decision of governors of the South-East to set up its regional security outfit codenamed Ebube Agu on Sunday has elicited mixed reactions from Nigerians.
While many are applauding the decision of the governors, others felt it was somewhat too late in the day, especially with the grossly deteriorated insecurity in the region.
There are some who equally felt the governors took a wrong decision and were only trying to toe the line of their South-West counterparts, who about a year ago came up with the South-West Security Network, also known as Amotekun.
Announcing the establishment of the joint security outfit on Sunday after their meeting, the Chairman of the South-East Governors’ Forum, Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State said the headquarters of the outfit will be in Enugu, while also explaining that Ebube Agu will also monitor the activities of vigilante groups in member states.
The communique read by Umahi reads in part: “After exhaustive discussions on the current security challenges in the South East and with valuable contributions from participants at the first South-East security summit in Owerri on this day Sunday, April 11th 2021, it was resolved as follows:
“To strongly and unequivocally condemn terrorism and banditry in any part of Nigeria, particularly in the South East. The meeting strongly condemns the burning of police stations, violent attacks on custodial centres with the unlawful release of inmates, and the killings including security personnel, natives/ farmers and headsmen.
“That the five South-East states are on the same page with the federal government on the issue of security challenges in the country. To this end, the meeting makes it absolutely clear that the Southeast will stand resolutely with the federal government to fight terrorists and bandits to a finish
“That the political leadership in the South-East has resolved to bring together all the arsenals at their command, as one united zone, to fight and flush out criminals and terrorists from the zone.
“That to fast track crime-busting in the southeast, the heads of security agencies have been mandated to draw up a comprehensive list of their logistics and material needs for sustainable success in the fight against criminality, for the immediate provision by the leadership of the South East.
“That a committee made up of security personnel, government officials and relevant stakeholders are set up to coordinate and monitor the implementation of the southeast joint security platform.
“The meeting resolved to maintain a joint security vigilante for the South East otherwise known as Ebube Agu.
“The meeting appreciated the formation of a South-East joint security outfit, named Ebubeagu. Headquarters in Enugu, to coordinate our vigilante in the South East.
“Meeting agreed that open grazing has been banned and the security agency should implement the ban.
“The meeting encouraged a peaceful coexistence of farmers and headers to allow governors to succeed in the fight against criminality.”
The announcement by Umahi set the stage for a torrent of comments on the microblogging site, Twitter as Nigerians took time to express their minds with the #EbubeAgu.
Some of the comments also showed the anti-establishment stand of many South-Easterners, who berated the governors for the establishment of a joint security outfit instead of supporting the Esatern Security Network (ESN), set-up by the proscribed secessionist group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
For many of these sets of Igbos, it is a puppet security outfit set up to do the bidding of Fulani overlords and expand their interests in the zone. For them, Ebube Agu cannot see the light of the day.
However, a large portion of those who reacted on Twitter welcomed the move by the governors, though expressed reservations for the timing, believing it was coming rather too late in the day.
A Twitter user, @OduduwaR knocked the governors, calling them jokers for just waking up. He tweeted: “Jokers that called themselves South east Governors just wake up. #EBUBEAGU…… #ESN is working already thank you”, while at @STRENGHTMRRIGHT, shared his sentiments, electing to go with ESN. He tweeted: Look here there’s no other security that can stand in the South East, ESN is already there and everyone is part of it, these governors are on their own. They will all fade away.”
Another Twitter user, @AfamDeluxo, elected to give the governors a 90-day grace to be able to access what they can do with Ebube Agu. He said: “In the next 90 days, we shall come back to review the performance of EBUBE AGU. Fingers crossed for now. These governors that have never come together to achieve anything. They’re learning under duress”, while @iamstnly was elated with the news. He wrote: This is awesome #EbubeAgu is the bomb we all need now… security of life and property na Human Rights!!”
However, @Buchyogba linked the action of the governors to the attacks in Owerri, insisting that they only acted because they felt threatened and that Owerri attack was too close home for them. He said: “Our Governors waited for the Owerri attack before they could act. People have been crying about insecurity, they never cared. Imagine if the attack did not happen, they wouldn’t have bothered. That tells you the quality of leaders we have in SE. Anyways, EBUBEAGU to the rescue, while @dicksoniroegbu, felt the setting up of the security outfit is something to be excited about. He said: “#EbubeAgu, rightly talks about the glory and strength of the Lion… I congratulate the Southeast.”
For @Ayinde_Alhaji, the action of the governors is well within their rights in a federation like Nigeria’s. He wrote: “#EbubeAgu, the new sheriffs in town. The South Eastern region being lately epicentre of controversial police attacks not forgetting the recent Prison Break in Owerri. A step in the right direction as we are in a federation where we all can grow positively as a country, One Nigeria. However, @bothgreen put it directly when he wrote “Setting up security outfit “#EbubeAgu” by #SouthEast Governors is an action taken so late. After many lives have been lost, many kidnapped and rapped by #FulaniMonster Terrorists.”
For @slimchick, Ebube Agu is the only legitimate security outfit for the South-East and not ESN, she applauded it. “Great move. The only legitimate security outfit will be the one established in consideration with the laws of the land and not the one established by one Nnamdi who’s a fugitive. #EbubeAgu #SouthEastSecurity”, she wrote.
@VictorDonJer, who also applauded the South-East governors, gave consolation, saying it may be coming late, it is not too late. “I hail the Eastern Nigeria State Governors, rather late but not too late. Time to flush out miscreants from the East”, he said.
Reacting to the news of the setting up of the Ebube Agu, the Igbo apex socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, expressed satisfaction, saying it has its full blessing.
Speaking on behalf of the group, its spokesman, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, said: “Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide received the formation of a joint South East Security outfit by the South East Governors with joy. It is all expected. In the last meeting of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Elders Council, we mandated them to do it. In our release last time we urged them to do it. I am happy they have done so and we believe with this the rate of crimes and criminality in the South East will reduce.
“We gave them 30 days as a matter of fact. The Ohanaeze Elders Council gave them 30 days to come up with this and I am happy that they are responding.
“Now they have to put machinery in motion to ensure that the Bills that were sent to the various State Houses of Assembly were passed and signed into law for full operation to commence.”
Reacting also, Chidi Chikwendu, faulted the governors for waiting for too long to do the needful, blaming them for the deterioration of the security situation in the South-East. According to him, their inaction emboldened IPOB to set up the ESN.
“I am happy that they have finally responded to the yearnings of the people of the zone, who have suffered enormously in the hands of criminals for too long. It is a welcome development. But one must say it the way it is, the governors delayed this for too long. Their inaction is indirectly responsible for the mess the South-East is in today. If they had taken action when their colleagues in the South-West came up with Amotekun, the situation would have been different.
“Again, the delay by the governors also worsened things and allowed IPOB to come up with ESN, which today is embroiled in allegations of masterminding the various attacks on security agents and locations in the zone. This particular mess may prove very difficult to control, as IPOB has continued to insist on the legitimacy of the operations of the ESN. But, for all its worth, it is a welcome development and I only hope and pray that the governors will give Ebube Agu all the necessary support to make it succeed”, Chikwendu said.