EASTERN Security Network (ESN) operatives have successfully evicted Fulani cattle herdsmen from a camp at Isiukwuato in Abia State killing dozens of their cows in a daring raid aimed at ridding the area of kidnappers and criminals.
Created by secessionist group the Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob), ESN was put together as a regional security initiative to protect the southeast geo-political zone from the activities of Fulani cattle herdsmen. Over recent years, these heavily-armed herdsmen have been engaged in kidnapping, rape, banditry and gruesome murders involving them ransacking villages across the country.
In its first major confrontation with the herdsmen, ESN operatives chased the pastoralists away from Isiukwuato, killing dozens of their cattle. Ipob leader Nnamdi Kanu, said that ESN operatives were seen burning houses and cows allegedly belonging to the herdsmen.
Mr Kanu said: “We have videos of men at work last night across all the towns and villages of the old Bende Division, especially Isiukwuato. ESN commenced the combing of parts of Isiukwuato forests last night and engagement with the enemy is ongoing and will continue until they no longer present a threat to our communities along that axis.
“Our intelligence so far has revealed that those terrorising Isiukwuato are rogue elements in the Nigerian Army and police who pass on their victims to Fulani killer herdsmen. ESN shall find and neutralise these murderers and kidnappers in the coming days, be rest assured.”
One eyewitness added: “We are here to tell these idiots, these stupid Fulani that this place is not for them, they must leave our land. We are formidable, we have dealt with them, their cows are dead, we have chased them away.
“They should leave our land, there is no place for them. We cannot allow you to stay in our land, you kill our people, you rape our women, you think you will go scot free, there is no place for you.”
In December last year, Mr Kanu launched ESN to protect the people of the southeast and south-south geo-political zones. He described the outfit as a replica of the Western Nigeria Security Network, also known as Amotekun, earlier launched by the governors of the southwest geo-political zone to curb insecurity in the region.
“The sole aim and objective of this newly formed security outfit known as Eastern Security Network is to halt every criminal activity and terrorist attack on Biafraland. This outfit, which is a vigilante group like the Amotekun in the southwest and the Miyetti Allah security outfit, will ensure the safety of our forests and farmland which terrorists have converted into slaughter grounds and raping fields,” Mr Kanu added.
From drones and hidden cameras believed to be installed by the ESN, a video captured Nigerian Army helicopters and their vehicles and soldiers searching for ESN operatives to make arrests. Recently, it was also learnt that some Nigerian soldiers resigned and joined the ESN, on the grounds that the ESN, being funded by both international and local donors, had better welfare packages for its officers than the military.
One military source said: “The Kanu ESN boys are not a bunch of rookies and untrained fellows brandishing guns. I personally know five guys from my hometown in Anambra State who left the Nigerian Army to join the ESN.
“Two of them were formerly serving in Operation Lafiya Dole, Borno State, before they quit. We are being reliably informed that there are other soldiers, particularly of southeast extraction, who will soon leave for other various reasons and they are likely to be recruited into the fold.”