ANAMBRA State government has established a local vigilante outfit to be known as the Forest Guards and tasked it with the job of providing security following the recent rise in attacks by armed Fulani herdsmen.
Earlier this year, the South East Governors Forum scrapped plans to launch a regional security network to be known as Operation Ogbunigwe that would have been similar to Operation Amotekun launched in the southwest geo-political zone. In February, the six southwest governors agreed to launch a regional body called Amotekun to combat the growing menace of banditry, kidnapping and insecurity in their states.
Highly popular with Nigerians who have been living with chronic insecurity, Amotekun sparked off calls for the creation of similar regional structures nationwide. In the southeast geo-political zone, the governors began moves to create a body that would be known as Operation Ogbunigwe, that would mirror Amotekun.
However, after a meeting with the inspector-general of police Mohammed Adamu in Enugu, the southeast governors agreed to shelve their plans and instead opt for the federal government’s community policing programme. In March, however, Governor Dave Umahi, the chairman of the South East Governors Forum, said they were reviewing the situation after Mr Adamu reneged on their agreement.
Consequently, in April, the houses of assembly of the five southeastern states commenced the process of enacting laws in line with the proposed South East Joint Security Programme. Southeast governors have been under severe pressure and criticism from Ndigbo at home and in the diaspora for not floating a regional security outfit following the emergence of Amotekun.
Enugu State complied and set up Forest Guards, equipped with vehicles and motorcycles for them to go into the interior parts of the state and pass intelligence to appropriate security agencies. Anambra State has now followed suit with the formation of a local unit to be known as the Forest Guard to.
Governor Willy Obiano decided to create the Forest Guards in response to recent attacks by heavily armed Fulani herdsmen who have been terrorising communities across Anambra State. He has directed the vigilantes, the president-generals of town unions and traditional rulers to work with their local government chairman to form forest guards units and comb the nooks and crannies of their respective communities and local councils to fish out strangers.
Of late, the Association of South East Town Union (Asetu), highlighted the recent influx of young men from the northern part of the country, directing every town union in the zone to be very vigilant and monitor every movement in their communities. Asetu also wrote to all the governors asking them to take action on the matter.
Asetu’s letter read: “In the southeast and in other parts of Nigeria, we have witnessed the killings and rape of our people by herdsmen that roam about the most interior parts of our villages. They are reported to enter into people’s farms and consume their produce.
“People are now afraid to farm in their interior farms in their ancestral land. This is close to being sacrilegious.”