NORTHERN pan-cultural organisation the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has accused political leaders in the southeast geo-political zone of abandoning their responsibilities and leaving security to the separatist group the Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob).
Over recent weeks, Ipob’s armed wing the Eastern Security Network (ESN), has stepped up a fightback against Fulani cattle herdsmen who have been terrorising rural farmers. According to the ACN publicity secretary Emmanuel Yawe, this has led to 52 herdsmen being killed in communities across Ebonyi State lately.
As a result ACF chairman, Chief Audu Ogbe, issued a travel warning to northerners planning to visit the southeast, saying that except such trips were matters of life and death, they should be shelved. Over the weekend, 11 people were said to have been killed in gun battles during Ipob’s sit-at-home protest across the southeast.
In Enugu State, a former high court judge, Justice Stanley Nnaji, was shot dead along Ebeano Tunnel in Enugu metropolis on Sunday evening. Also, the corpse of the chief provost of Nigeria Immigration Service, Imo State Command, Okiemute Mrere, who was assassinated on Saturday, was discovered in a bush on Sunday morning.
Yesterday, four policemen were killed in various parts of Enugu, with one slain in Uwani in Enugu South, two in the Mgbeme area of Coal Camp and another killed along Okpara Avenue opposite Central Bank of Nigeria, all in the Enugu North. In Ebonyi State, a policeman and four Biafran agitators, were killed in Nnodo, leading Mr Yawe to call on southeast leaders to live up to their responsibilities.
Mr Yawe said: “We are against retaliation because it didn’t help matters and never helped matters in the past. We are only concerned that the leaders of the southeast have abdicated responsibility and left their fate in the hands of Ipob and ESN, who have little knowledge of the history of their people.”
Chief Ogbeh added: “The ACF has noticed of late with increasing concern the attacks on/killing of northerners resident and or visiting the south, particularly the southeast. It was so bad at a point in February this year that the northern traders who normally supply the food needs of the south, the Amalgamated Union Food and Cattle Distributors of Nigeria (AUFCDN), embarked on a strike action to make the point that their lives also mattered.
“The ACF was among those who put pressure, on and ultimately convinced, the AUFCDN to call off the strike in the spirit of one Nigeria. Yesterday, Sunday 30th May, 2021, one of leaders in the north was brutally murdered on the streets of Owerri Imo State by gunmen, most likely of Ipob and ESN who have been waging a public campaign of killings and other forms of brutalities, to realise their dream country of Biafra.
“The Arewa Consultative Forum hereby issues a very strong advisory to all northerners who may wish to travel to the southeast to weigh the importance and necessity of such travels. Unless such trips are absolutely necessary and of compelling nature, like matters of life and death, they should not be made and where the trip must be undertaken, the traveller should take every security precaution in his or her movements while there, including linking with the security agencies at the place or places to be visited.”