Igbo Ekunie Initiative, a coalition of professionals in Nigeria and the Diaspora from the South-East has reacted to the recent order by the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris for all firearms to be submitted to the police.
The group said it does not see any reason light weapons used by vigilante and local hunters for gaming should be demanded by the police, while Boko Haram terrorists and Fulani herdsmen who carried prohibited firearm and had wrecked havoc would be treated lightly.
The group said considering the complementary role of the vigilante to the police in crime fighting, and the legal backing they enjoy in most southeastern states, it was rather too harsh to demand for their disarmament.
A press release by the president and secretary of the group, Maazi Tochukwu Ezeoke and Lawrence Nwobu, respectively, read in part, “Currently, there is a high level of ethnic mistrust, distrust and suspicion amongst Nigerians which has worsened under the current Buhari government.
“In that vein, the general consensus is that the directive from the Inspector General is to disarm the good people of the South East who currently are not represented at all in the leadership of all the security agencies of Nigeria, thus increasing their vulnerability to the genocidal massacre by the rampaging terrorist Fulani Herdsmen.
“We hereby condemn and denounce the Inspector General’s directive in the strongest possible terms and have been shocked that the Anambra State Police Commissioner, Mr Garba Umar has in furtherance of the enforcement of the directive in Anambra State, ordered members of the public, individuals and groups such as vigilantes, neighbourhood watch, town unions, hunters and night watchmen to surrender and hand over their arms and ammunition to the police before the expiration of 21 days.
“We maintain that the Inspector General’s directive as it relates to the South East is absolutely worrisome and uncalled for especially when taken into perspective that States like Anambra, Ebonyi and Enugu are among the most peaceful areas in the country has taken the issue of security as cardinal policy of government that relies heavily on established vigilante outfits which will now be affected by this very bizarre directive from the Inspector General.
“The Inspector General of Police failed woefully to address his mind to the reality that in some States like Anambra, Enugu, Imo and Abia, the local vigilante groups have been accorded legal recognition as bonafide vigilante services working in the communities for the State. These vigilante outfits assist or collaborate with the Nigerian Police to maintain law and order in their domains.”
The group said the Anambra State House of assembly enacted the Anambra State Vigilante Group Law in 2004, with the enactment of Enugu State Neighbourhood Association and Watch Group Law, just as Imo and Abia States had done same.
It continued that, “One would have expected that the Inspector General of Police should devote his energy and resources to addressing the reckless and cruel bloodletting all over Nigeria by the rampaging violent and terrorist Fulani Herdsmen whose genocidal crimes of huge proportions have so far baffled and overwhelmed the Inspector General in particular and indeed the entire security forces in Nigeria.
“So far thousands of innocent and defenceless Nigerians have been massacred and hacked to death in the months of December 2017, January, February and March 2018 by the duo of terrorist Fulani Herdsmen and Boko Haram insurgents particularly in the Northeast and North-central.
“In these instances, the IGP Ibrahim Idris and Nigeria Police Force have remained grossly incompetent and incapable; engaging in shadow chasing and beating around the bush. In some cases, the Inspector General actually sided with and spoke in favour of the killers!
“We warn that the enforcement of the unwise and myopic directive of the Inspector General will further aggravate the already tense security situation all over the country with the likely clampdown and skirmishes that will naturally ensue when Nigerians expectedly ignore and resist the ill-fated directive.”