SECESSIONIST group the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (Ipob) has launched a regional vigilante group known as the Eastern Security Network (ESN) to combat the growing insecurity across the southeast and south-south geo-political zones.
In January this year, the six governors of the southwest geo-political zone 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.
Under pressure, the southeast geo-political zone, the five governors began moves to create a body that would be known as Operation Ogbunigwe, which would mirror Amotekun. However, after a meeting with the inspector-general of police Mohammed Adamu in Enugu, the governors decided to shelve these plans and instead opt for the federal government’s community policing programme.
With nothing on the ground, Ipob, which until recently wanted the southeast geo-political to secede from Nigeria, has decided to step into the vacuum. Ipob spokesman Emma Powerful, said the objective of the security network is to protect the south-east and south-south geo-political zones from criminal activity.
Mr Powerful said: “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 south-west and the Miyetti Allah security outfit, will ensure the safety of our forests and farm lands which terrorists have converted into slaughter grounds and raping fields.
“We can’t watch helplessly while those we are agitating to liberate from bondage are gradually being eliminated by terrorists. We, therefore, advise every robber, kidnapper and other criminals to steer clear of Biafraland or brace for the worst. We must defend Biafra no matter the price.
He added that the security outfit became necessary following what he described as the failure of the governors of the south-east and south-south to put in place measures that will protect the people. So far, it is not known if the ESN will be armed or how many members it will have across the 11 states of both geo-political zones.
Mr Powerful added: “Biafra security network personnel will release special phone numbers for people to call whenever there is any case of criminality, including kidnapping and robbery activities, in the whole of Biafra land. Every resident in Biafra land should use the numbers to report any criminal activity anywhere in Biafra land for prompt response.”
Mr Powerful also called for an end to police harassment and brutality, adding that security checkpoints have become extortion points. He added: “Unnecessary police brutality on innocent citizens also must stop.
“Police and army checkpoints which have since been converted to extortion points should be dismantled. Any attempt to sabotage this security network will be stoutly resisted.”
It is not yet clear if the governors of the two zones will back the creation of ESN as to become a legal force, the state houses of assembly need to pass by-laws establishing the body. In the case of Amotekun, the state legislatures have passed laws creating them and the governors have accented to the bills, making them constitutional bodies.