By Damian Duruiheoma, Owerri
Southeast Governors Forum Chairman David Umahi yesterday claimed there was a plot to incite war in the region.
The Ebonyi State Governor, however, did not name those behind the plot.
He said men of the newly-launched Ebube Agu have already been deployed.
The governor was reacting to the rising insecurity in the Southeast, where gunmen have attacked many police stations and killer-herders have sacked communities, especially in Ebonyi.
Umahi, who spoke on Channels programme Sunrise Daily, also said bandits were committing crime in the Southeast under the guise of the Eastern Security Network (ESN), a security arm set up by the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
He said governors would not allow what he termed illegality to reign in the region, which was why they launched the Ebube Agu vigilante outfit.
“Of late, we have bandits that are now doing a lot of evil and saying that they are of the Eastern Security Network (ESN).
“They commit a lot of crime and say they are IPOB members and most of the time, IPOB would say: ‘We have no hands in this, we have no hands in that.’”
While admitting that the development makes it complex in fighting crime, the governor vowed that leaders of the region would not allow criminals to have a field day in the area.
He stressed that the establishment of Ebube Agu will tackle insecurity in Igboland.
“We have the command of the law to protect the lives of our people and we would not allow illegality to thrive in our land. Conflict will not resolve conflict,” he said.
According to the governor, farmer-herder clashes are not the only threat facing the region.
He claimed there was a plot to incite war in the Southeast, asking the people not to fall for such plans.
“The problem of this country is that people will leave their problems and make your problem their problem.
“But what some of these people are doing is to incite the Southeast into war and step aside, and we are not going to buy into that; we’re not going to be deceived again,” Umahi said.
Asked whether Ebebe Agu was being communicated to the people so that they can take ownership of it, the governor said: “Whether it inspires confidence or not, it does not matter to me.
“What matters to me is that our people will be satisfied with our efforts in protecting their lives and property.
“People must be very careful, and know that there are grand plans by people who have no interest in the Southeast to incite them into war and we are wiser than that.” Umahi said men of the Ebube Agu have been deployed to quell pockets of disturbances in parts of the zone.
He said the outfit was already doing tremendously well in assisting other conventional security apparatus to combat kidnapping, banditry and other forms of crime.
The governor noted that governors of the zone would ensure adequate funding of the outfit to guarantee optimum productivity.
Umahi appealed for assistance from the Federal Government to enable states to domesticate the fight against insecurity according to their peculiarities.
“Security is number one before health and education because it is he who is alive that can talk about education.
“We must commend Mr President but we continue to request that whatever resources are available at the centre should be used to assist states because they are currently going through all kinds of challenges,” he said.
He said measures have been put in place to ensure that Ebube Agu would not be hijacked by politicians over time.
“We already have security men and we are going to be expanding it. We have deployed them and they are working and they are going to be effective.
“Everyone has to operate within the confines of the law to ensure that it is not hijacked by politicians,” he said without explaining how the recruitment for the newly launched outfit was carried out.
On the attack in Ohaukwu in Ebonyi, in which at least 15 people were killed, Umahi warned leaders to desist from what he described as extreme politics in order not to plunge the nation into anarchy.
“The country is going into extreme politics because we have departed from the culture of hard work and we must go back to the drawing board.
“We have deployed security and we have deployed Ebube Agu there and we are going to make sure such an attack does not happen again.
“We have identified the flashpoints and we are interfacing with the Nigeria Police Force to establish a buffer zone within the area,” Umahi said.