NIGERIA: How Peace Returned To S-East —Police, Stakeholders

Map of the South-East. Image via Research Gate

*We took war to criminals before Yuletide —Imo Police

*Serious efforts were made to achieve peace —Imo Govt

*Agitators heeded advice of Elders — Ebonyi leader

*Attacks imported by external forces —Methodist Archbishop

By Anayo Okoli, Peter Okutu, Chimaobi Nwaiwu, Chinonso Alozie, Ikechukwu Odu, Emmanuel Iheaka

-- On the heels of the no-sit-at home in the southeast last Monday, relative peace is being experienced in the region after reports of violence, kidnappings by hoodlums for the past few months, burning of police stations and public buildings in the region.

These violent activities are in the past presently and people are move around freely without fear.

Looking back, stakeholders tried to explain the carnage that held sway in the region for months, attributing it to many forces.

For Alaigbo Development Foundation, ADF, “Christmas is a period of celebration and criminals, bandits and unknown gunmen may not be able to put their acts together in such a period.

“Everyone is busy celebrating Christmas and New Year. Crime requires planning and execution. Human beings must be involved in planning and execution. But during Yuletide, it is difficult to gather together for the effective execution of high-level crimes. Everyone is busy celebrating”, ADF spokesman, Abia Onyike said.

In his reaction, the Methodist Archbishop of Okigwe Archdiocese, Most Rev. Livinus Biereonwu Onuagha said the relative peace in the southeast region now and lack of attacks on people and institutions depicts the peaceful nature of an Igbo man.

“The Igbo by nature are not violent people. All violent attacks that have been happening in the S-East were imported and staged by external forces, they are man-made, imported into South East.

The Igbo man is peaceful. We accommodate people and are harmless. All these violent attacks that have been happening in the southeast are imported and staged by external forces. The violence we experienced is alien to the people of the southeast.

“It is not our nature to be violent. So wherever you are seeing violence in the southeast, it is because people who have a vested interest in one area or the other have planted it. The Igbo man by nature is peaceable, he is a communal person and not an individualistic person. The Igbo man loves staying with his people, always likes to be in the midst of his people, his brothers, and sisters. Anytime death happens in the southeast, every aspect of society is brought to a standstill.

“So, you cannot have interest in killing yourself and then you go out and start shouting. It is not part of the Igbo man’s character or style. Violence is alien to us.

“If the Nigerian government will not allow Igbo to become a Republic of Biafra, which is the mindset of many people, the federal government should let us control our resources and develop like Western Germany. They are delaying us, they are delaying the pace of our development.

“Do you know that there is nothing like Chemical Engineering Department in the University of Nigeria Nsukka immediately after the war and up till this moment? Do you know why it is like that? The reason is that our people are proactive. During the war, we used our scientists in the university to fight the war which the whole world fought against us.

“Since then, they don’t want us to move an inch. They just want us to remain at a place that is alien to us. Our nature is development: morning, afternoon, and night. And when you stop our development, you have stopped our breathing and that is exactly what the Nigerian situation is doing to the Igbo man.

“Let them allow us to exercise our God-given nature and potentials in every area of development, every area of the economy. We can do it by the grace of God. We can accommodate t hem at any time but they should not bring in desert spirit to our people.”

We took war to criminals before Yuletide —Imo Police

The police in Imo State said they took war to criminals before the Yuletide, the reason the state recorded crime-free celebration.

State Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Micheal Abattam said that the state police command was proactive about recording a crime-free Yuletide in the state, in line with the assurance made by the Commissioner of Police.

He said the police deployed both uniform and plaincloth personnel to identify flashpoints to tackle any crime attempt.

“The Commissioner of Police, CP Rabiu Hussaini had told Imolites that the Yuletide would be crime-free. He had detailed officers and men and directed them on how best to police the state. If you look around, you will see that we have more policemen on the streets, both uniform and plainclothes policemen.

“Apart from that, he made sure he pushed in enough of our Search and Flush Patrol Teams to man the three senatorial zones. And they are all there.

“Again, the areas we see as black spots, which we felt might give us problems were policed earlier before now. And based on the proactive nature of the tactical teams as directed by the Commissioner of Police, we were able to take the war to the doorsteps of the criminals and a lot of them were arrested. So, instead of causing problems, we removed them and put them where they are supposed to be.

“The Commissioner of Police also made sure that the border areas of the state were manned by fierce policemen. People coming in and going out were searched. If nothing incriminating was found, they are allowed to continue their journey. A lot of criminals were arrested”, he submitted.

Govts should engage youths—Imo AA Chairman

The Chairman, Action Alliance (AA), Imo State, Comrade Ifeanyi Okponwa-Eze, expressed joy over the crime-free celebration recorded in the region.

Okponwa-Eze submitted that there is no alternative to peace, but urged state governments to create jobs to engage youths.

“We thank God for a peaceful Yuletide. We have appealed several times for peace to be given a chance. No matter what the grievances maybe, I do not see any justification in one setting his house on fire. We are the ones to suffer the consequences.

“Imo State and the entire southeast zone had no peace in 2021. As we bid farewell to 2021, and without violence, I want to believe we are also saying bye to violence in South East.

“While we call for peace, governments must rise to their responsibilities as a way of curbing insecurity. Part of the responsibility is the creation of jobs to engage the youths. It is a fact that a high level of unemployment is ravaging the zone, particularly Imo State.

“Governor Hope Uzodimma should rise to the occasion by engaging the youths meaningfully. Good governance has a way of discouraging insecurity.

“In all, we pray and hope for a better and prosperous 2022 that will be devoid of violence”, he stated.

Serious efforts were made to achieve peace—Imo Govt

Reacting, the Imo State government through the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba said: “First of all, let me thank God for giving us the wisdom to achieve this. This goes a long way to prove that the efforts of the Imo State government in collaboration with security agencies have started to yield positive results and which will be sustained to ensure that Imo people enjoy themselves, especially in this yuletide season. I can assure you that the government will sustain it.”

Speaking also, the President of Igbo National Council, INC, Chilos Godsent, said: “What we have is a relative reduction of violence. The reason is because of the intervention by stakeholders and groups to ensure there is peace in the region.

“There was a certain level of intervention urging aggrieved groups to toe the line of dialogue so that the areas of disputes can be resolved and peace will return to the troubled areas.”

Agitators heeded advice of Elders – Ebonyi leader

AN Igbo leader of thought and serving lawmaker of Ebonyi State House of Assembly, Oliver Osi in his reaction explained that the recent peace and calmness within the South East was due to the advice given by the critical Elders to agitating youths of the region.

In his words: “I think one of the reasons peace and calmness returned to the South East region of the country was the critical interventions made by critical leaders of the region.

“Some of them who have access to these unknown gunmen and the leadership of IPOB was able to talk to them. Talking to these persons in the language they will understand brought about the peace and calmness we are witnessing now.

“Again, you are aware that most persons have carried out propaganda against the South East that we do not deserve power in 2023 because we are the supposed problem of the country. That being said, we need to advise ourselves because as you can see, the southeast is favoured to produce the next President of the country.

“This popular political postulation has helped to reduce unnecessary agitations in the region. What is happening in Imo State is politically motivated as it has nothing to do with IPOB or any form of agitation.

“Furthermore, I must say that the peace-making disposition and wisdom of the elders of the region helped to the extent that youths started to jettison the issue of sitting at home.

“They must have equally reasoned as the elders have emphasized that the development was gradually destroying the economy of the south east which was rebuilt after the civil war. So, the development you are witnessing in the region was made possible through the acceptability of popular and genuine argument.”

Enemies are stealing peace in southeast—Ex CBN Director

Reacting to the new development, a former Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Director, Mike Ejinima said enemies were trying to steal the peace in southeast.

Ejinima also bemoaned the marginalisation of the zone in the politics of the country, adding that Nigeria would experience unprecedented economic and political fortunes if an Igbo man should become the president of Nigeria.

He equally said that the “no victor, no vanquished,” stance of the federal government was a deceptive assertion of the government, stressing that considering the treatment of the south east zone by the powers that be in Nigeria, the Igbos were the vanquished in the civil war.

He, however, hinged the return of peace in the southeast zone on the gradual identification of the enemies of the zone, who he said were hitherto bent on destroying the investments and people of the zone.