- By Leo Igwe
Not because I am involved and I am of Igbo extraction. There is something out of place in the Buhari government’s fight against insecurity in the southeast.
I knew that the project of tackling security challenges would take a different dimension when it comes to the Southeast. Yes, I knew the dynamics would change. Combating criminality and banditry would take a different turn at any point the Igbos get linked to this national albatross.
I knew that the police would suddenly wake up to their professional and constitutional duties. Soldiers and other state security agencies would overcome their amnesia.
It does not require some extraordinary intelligence to know that the security operations in the Southeast are laden and driven by entrenched prejudice and hate. Just look at what is going on in Imo state.
Before addressing the issue, it is pertinent to state that the pervasive insecurity in the country is bad for everyone and all those responsible anywhere should be brought to justice.
But is that what the Nigerian government is doing? No. The state should take all necessary measures to protect and secure the lives and property of citizens. The government should prevent Nigeria’s gradual descent into anarchy and lawlessness.
In the east or west, north or south, the northeast or southeast, southwest or northwest, state officers should be diligent, neutral, and impartial in carrying out their duties and in tackling insecurity and criminality.
Is that what applies to the fight against insecurity in the country? Not at all.
For over a decade Nigeria has been grappling with security challenges mainly in the north of the country and measures have been taken to address them. Unfortunately, the various measures have outrightly been misconstrued, sabotaged, or portrayed as hatred for the north or Muslims.
The northern political elite has been unwilling to designate Boko Haramites and killer herdsmen as criminals and enemies of the state. However, when it comes to the southeast, it has become a different kettle of fish.
As the bloodletting in Imo, and military operations against real or imagined IPOBians in other southeastern states have illustrated, the Buhari government has an axe to grind with southeastern states and the ethnic constituents.
The government has scores to settle and is doing just that. Nothing illustrates the entrenched prejudice, illogic, and imbalance in this government’s mis/handling of the security challenges in the southeast than a tweet from a former aide to President Goodluck Jonathan, Reno Omokri.
“You want to fight unknown gunmen, yet you do not fight the gunmen that are known? Soldiers escorted Gumi to meetings with bandits. Soldiers escorted Katsina state Governor, Bello Masari, to have negotiations with bandits. If you want to fight a war, start with them”
As Omokri has made it clear, the Buhari government’s efforts to tackle insecurity in the country are characterized by glaring mischief.
The government declared a war against unknown gunmen in the southeast while hobnobbing with known gunmen in the north and shielding killer herdsmen from justice.
But that should not surprise anyone. From the inception of his government, President Buhari made it clear that he would not treat people from the Southeast who gave him fewer votes like others that massively voted for him.
In response to what was then largely peaceful agitation for Biafra, the Buhari government declared the Indigenous People of Biafra, a terrorist organization.
He sent police officers and soldiers to shoot and kill any real or imagine members or sympathizers of IPOB. Now imagine this.
The Buhari government did not proscribe Myetti Allah and other Fulani herdsmen associations that perpetrated murderous violence and savage killings across the north terrorist organizations.
The government did not send soldiers to shoot at sight any real or imagined Fulani herdsmen or Muslim militants that have killed and continue to murder innocent Nigerians. Police detectives have not been sent to areas where Fulani herdsmen are living in the country.
Instead, Buhari sent the state army to protect them. The government engaged in rehabilitating ex-Boko Haram militants, integrating them into the state security apparatus.
Northern state governments have conferred with Fulani jihadists, Muslim militants, kidnappers, and bandits. They have met with them, negotiated with them, paid ransom to them in the presence of police officers and soldiers.
Fulani bloodletters have kidnapped and murdered many Nigerians including those from the southeast living in the north without any repercussions and consequences.
These ‘known gunmen’ in the north attacked and killed an Igbo medical doctor in Zamfara. They kidnapped and murdered an Igbo catholic seminarian in Kaduna. They kidnapped and disappeared an Igbo catholic priest in Katsina and murdered an Igbo Christian woman in Kano.
Just to mention a few. Meanwhile, security measures taken to tackle unknown gunmen in Imo and other southeastern states have not been deployed to ‘neutralize’ known Fulani killer herdsmen, jihadists, bandits, and murderers across the country.
Look separatist groups exist and operate in other parts of the country. Don’t they? These groups have emerged as a result of growing discontent over misgovernance of the country. Unlike IPOB, separatist groups in other parts of the country have not been proscribed. They have not been declared terrorist organizations.
The Buhari government should review its security strategy in the southeast because it drips with prejudice, hate, and Igbophobia.
The government should end this ethnoreligious vendetta being prosecuted in the name of combating insecurity in the region. The government should recognize and guarantee the democratic rights of Nigerians to peaceful protests, civil agitations, and disobedience