*Sends SoS to govs, stakeholders
*Seeks legalisation of defensive arms
From Steve Oko, Umuahia
A coalition of 21 pan-Igbo civil society bodies, have sent a Save our Sour (SoS) message to state governors of South-East, political elite and critical stakeholders for a quick intervention over alleged security threat in Igbo land which it said, “is worse than the civil war experience”.
The coalition in a joint press statement decried what they described as “the porous security situation, particularly the barbaric daily slaughtering of hapless citizens in different communities in Igbo land in the most dehumanising manner by armed Fulani herdsmen and terrorists”.
According to the coalition, Igbo land is now under siege, hence the need for immediate measures to defend it against the killer invaders.
“To all our people, Ndigbo, we say unto you ‘Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say, I am strong (Joel 3:10)”, the coalition declared.
The statement made available to The AUTHORITY in Abia read in part: “We, the undersigned representing various interests and organizations in Alaigbo, on behalf of our people and our land, send you this distress message!
“Our Ancestral Homes are under siege! Our Lives are being wasted! Alaigbo has been invaded! We must rise up and defend our Homeland!!
“The situation in Nigeria today is one of the worst security challenges in human history. For us in Alaigbo, the situation is more critical than the one we faced during the Biafra war.”
The coalition passed a vote of no confidence on the federal government, accusing it of colluding with the forces fueling rising insecurity in the region.
It, therefore, declared that the people were left with no other option than to resort to self defense, hence the appeal to the governors and other critical stakeholders to lay aside their political differences and unity for action.
“It seems there is no one in charge to whom the people can look up to for their protection or is the Government in power in collusion with the forces responsible for the state of generalized anarchy in the land?
“The people must take full responsibility for the protection of themselves, their families and their property. Our land has been invaded!
“When the enemy attacks us and our families; when he goes into our farm to destroy our crops, or forcefully enters our homes to seize the little foods we have for our children, should we just sit there and do nothing? Should we fold our hands, sit there until General Buhari or any Federal or State Authority comes to our rescue?
“Indeed, the Security of any man is first and foremost his personal responsibility.
The role of Government on matters of security of the lives and property of the people is crucial but only second to the efforts of the individual citizen who are direct victims”.
“In the light of these truths that we categorically declare that –
We, in the entire Igbo nation, should not mystify issues concerning the Security of our People and our Ancestral Communities!
That Right of Self-Defense is inalienable and therefore:
“Every citizen has a duty and a right to carry defensive weapons for the protection of himself, his family and his property including his farmlands and ancestral homes.
“The Government should recognize and hence legalize private ownership and possession of defensive weapons, particularly now there is a state of virtual anarchy in the land.
“Anti-Open Grazing Law should be enacted by all the State Houses of Assembly in Alaigbo to enforce the protection of our farms and crops and prevent famine in our land.
“Communities Vigilantes should be fully operational in all our communities, provided with legislative backing and thus provided with adequate system of weapon.
“We fully support the idea of State Police, provided that such State Police is under the full control of respective zonal and State Governments.
” We support the Bold Security Initiatives by our Neighbors in other parts of the Federation – the Yoruba, the Tiv, the Junkun, etc, to protect themselves and their Ancestral lands!”
“Yes, there is no mystery in the Security Measures being taken by our neighbors – the Yoruba, the Tiv in Benue State, the Junkun in Taraba, the Edo People, etc, to protect themselves (their men, women and children) and their Ancestral lands.
“What they have done is to exercise their fundamental right to Self-Defense, a right which we ourselves have been trying to exercise BUT now need to assert in a more positive and non-ambiguous terms.The Yoruba nation first established the needed Security structures.
“And no one can rationally, legally and politically challenge what they have done and are doing to protect their people and their land.
“In all these, the People and their Governments have worked in tandem! And therefore Ndigbo, we should learn from their examples.”
The coalition urged all the Houses of Assembly in Igbo land to quickly pass the anti -open grazing bill to curb the barbaric herding of livestock on farm lands by herdsmen.
“Thus, from the experience of our Neighbor, it is imperative that Regional/State Governments (Governors and Houses of Assembly) need to do two basic things to secure our land and protect our people, namely –
Pass the enabling Security Law, particularly the Anti-Open Grazing Bill which have been submitted to them, and set up and equip the necessary Security Structures including Community Vigilantes.
“We also hereby call on all our various communities and citizens to support their local Vigilantes organizations with all that are needed to make them effectively functional.
“We are aware that a few of our State Legislatures have passed the Anti-Open Grazing Bill, awaiting signing by the Governors. We, therefore, urge the Governors to urgently do so if they have not already signed the bill into law. Other States are called upon to follow suite and enact the Anti-Open Grazing Bill.”
The coalition said that “criminals from West African and other countries have taken advantage of this situation to invade our communities, wrecking all manner of havoc, killing, maiming and kidnapping our innocent citizens, rapping our wives and daughters with reckless abandon”
“And the Federal Government of Nigeria is hardly doing anything to protect the people”, the statement added. ”
On the way forward, the statement further read :
“The most common identity of these criminals is that they hide under the movement of cattle. Therefore, the first step in tackling the Security challenges is to control the free movement and grazing of Cattle.
“There is need for urgent Igbo National caucus to assert our collective resolve and our support for our governments to enact the Anti-Open Grazing Law And to put in place all necessary measures to enforce the law and ensure our Security!
“We, the undersigned are calling for an URGENT IGBO NATIONAL CAUCUS involving the people and our Governments to give popular backing to the necessary adequate Security arrangements for our collective action.
“Today, virtually all communities have their VIGILANTE (Local Security Watch) either operational or in limbo, Therefore, every community should be encouraged to set up and energize their Community Vigilante. State Houses of Assembly and Governors should quickly enact enabling Laws to back such measures. The State Governments and the various communities must provide the needed resources for their effective operation.”
Signatories to the statement include : Professor Uzodinma Nwala Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF); Professor Elochukwu Amuchazi, Igbo Leaders of Thought ILT; Nze Fidelis Ozichukwu Igbo Town Unions ,ITU; His Grace Chris Ede, Christian Council of Nigeria, Enugu; and
Bishop Goddy Okafor, Christian Council of Nigeria SE.
Others include, Mr Ngozi Odumuko, Nzuko Umunna; Mr J. Ikunna, Igbo Intelligentsia;
Mr Tony Nnadi, Lower Niger Congress, LNC;
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Inter-Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law; Bar Alloy Ejimakor, Counsel for the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB.
Among the signatories also are Max Ozoaka, South-East Lawyers Forum; Engr. Anthony Aniebue, Peoples Restoration Movement, PRM; Emeka Emekesiri, MOBIN; Dr J. C. Chukuokolo, South-East based Coalition of Human Rights and Democracy Organizations, SBCHROS; and Ndubisi V. Anaenugwu , BVI
Others include, Engr Ike Iwendu, Association of South East President- Generals; Mrs Maria Okwo, Igbo Women Assembly, IWA; Pastor Dr Okey Anoruo, Association of Imo Town Unions; Comr Uchenna Madu, Leader Movement for the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB; Mr Okey Orji, Coalition of Pro-Biafra Organizations; and Ms Ola N. Uchendu, Sons and Daughters of Alaigbo.