• Sunday, July 14, 2024
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Simon Ekpa’s menace persists because Nigeria wants it

Simon Ekpa: Why CDS, General Musa, is wrong again

Many have lost hope of the Federal Government showing a maintained interest in the return of peace to the South East. The indications are that the centre at best is disinterested in whether the South East swims or sinks. It is not true.

The insecurity spanned out of control particularly since 2021. More militarisation of the zone, more check points, more Operations Python dance exercises, more celebrations of arrests, extra-judicial killings have not been solutions.

Very confounding is the silence of our Governors. The South East is under more insecurity than during the civil war and the Governors are content with logging meaningless titles and appropriating billions as security votes.

Daily, they act in breach of their oath of office to protect their people whose security and welfare the Constitution says is the primary purpose of government. They have become so self-serving that no matter how many are killed they are unaffected.

At best they regurgitate latitudinous nothingness in condemnation of the attacks.

Why is it impossible for our Governors to act together? How do they think they can succeed acting alone? Can the South East be safe if any part is under attack? The sit-at-home orders not being observed in Abia is not much consolation if people in Abia cannot go to the other States or people cannot come to Abia since they have to pass through the besieged States.

Did any of the Governors say a word when Asari Dokubo disclosed his role in South East’s insecurity? What are they afraid of? They would not want to offend Asari?

Remarkably, Asari made his claims in the presidential villa after visiting President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. What is Dokubo doing in the South East that the security agencies that populate the region cannot do?

Asari’s utterances were not countered in any way by Abuja. Would it be wrong to say the President is not against whatever Asari has said, including threatening mayhem if he was arrested?

While the search for unknown gunmen continues, is Asari the known gunman? Are the Governors aware of what Asari is doing in the South East?

There was hope when Governor Hope Uzodinma said his government was taking the South East to the centre through Imo State joining the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC. Ebonyi State is in too.

Most evident result of Uzodinma’s success is Imo State becoming the epicentre of the Unknown Gunmen attacks. Whatever spiked the attacks would remain in the realm of conjectures. However, indecisions around the attacks confirm tacit approvals of them. Is the rule that no security agency should respond to attacks? Where are security agencies to protect those who refuse to sit at home?

The national policy is to either to instigate insecurity in the South East or ignore it. Many who are in the know have keyed in with silence for the sustenance of their spheres of political influence and relevance.

Nothing hurts like the silences bothering on indifference. Every opportunity to give insecurity in the South East adequate attention that should lead to its resolution is shunned by those who should care.

We have 15 Senators, 43 Members of the House of Representatives, a 58-person delegation to the National Assembly. Except for Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe how many of them have said a word after insecurity in the South East or anything for that matter?

These attacks take place in their constituencies. They would not talk. When Senator Ifeanyi Ubah was attacked last year one would have thought our representatives would come up with meaningful measures to secure the space. Did they?

Would it not make a difference if at each sitting one of our representatives at the National Assembly speaks about insecurity in the South? Suppose the Members of State Houses of Assembly do the same? Can they continue speaking until security returns to the South East.

South East is the most fractious zone in Nigeria. Our five States by the last count are to be found in four different political parties – All Progressives Congress, APC, All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Labour Party, LP, and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. They need to act in concert regardless of party lines. They have to realise we face a common threat that could be worsen by the November governorship election in Imo.

Lives are being lost. Insecurity does not respect party affiliation. APC chieftain Ahmed Gulak was killed on 30 May 2021 on his way to Owerri airport. He is a proof that insecurity can affect anyone.

It would be important for our leaders to speak out otherwise they confirm suspicions that they have acquiesced to the steady annihilation of the South East by stripping it of the most important factor in sustaining existence – security.

Ikenga Ugochinyere just elected to the House of Representatives on national television called out Governor Uzodinma for insecurity in Imo State. A siege was laid to Ikenga’s home last year. His house was razed and the uncle died in the attack that was executed without any response from security agencies. He holds the Governor responsible. The Governor sometimes alludes to opponents contributing to the insecurity.

The debates are unhelpful as long as they resolve nothing.

Communities have to protect themselves. They do not have the sophisticated fire power of the attackers but they can do better working with the Governors, legislators, local government chairmen who they must hold more accountable.

One thing the Federal Government should do immediately – tell the Finnish Government to rein in Simon Ekpa. Without sit-at-home orders a major plank of the insecurity would have been dismantled. We can start from there.

SENATOR Osita Izunaso moved a motion demanding that the Federal Government should ask Finland to extradite Simon Ekpa. The motion passed. The provision that the demand should wait for the appointment of a Minister of Foreign Affairs under-states the urgency of the issue. We have an Ambassador in Finland, he can submit the letter to the Finnish Government. We also have the Ambassador of Finland in Abuja. He too can submit the letter to his government.

PS: This piece, first published on 30 July 2023, is the concluding part of what I wrote last week. General Christopher Musa, Chief of Defence is still wrong to pour blames on Finland and the European Union for not supporting Nigeria to deal with the Simon Ekpa menace when the Federal Government has done nothing about the issue? If South East is of interest to the government, it would act. Senator Izunazo’s motion that 14 Senators supported, was passed on 26 July, 2023. Nothing, absolutely nothing, has been done. The excuse on Wednesday, 26 July 2023, when the Senate passed the motion, was that a Minister of Foreign Affairs had not been appointed. On 21 August 2023, Yusuf Maitama Tuggar, former Nigerian Ambassador to Germany, was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs, just 26 days after the Senate passed the motion on Ekpa.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday 14 February 2023 summoned the Finnish Ambassador to Nigeria, Leena Pylvanainen, to a meeting with Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Zubairu Dada, over Simon Ekpa. Dada told the Finnish Ambassador, “We should let you know, in very strong terms that it is high time you really back Nigeria with the quest that something is done immediately because he threatens the forthcoming elections”. Pylvanainen responded, “He’s a double citizen as far as I know of Nigeria and Finland. But we have to take his rights into consideration as well. So everything has to obviously be done according to Finnish legislation, which has very strong protections for freedom of speech.”

Nothing may be done about Simon Ekpa until days to the 2027 elections. General Musa should know who can change that.

Isiguzo is a major commentator on minor issues