Caution on military incursion in Orlu, neighbouring communities

On February 19, conflicting reports emerged about military operations in the forests around Orlu axis in Imo State. Some people said that the military have descended on peace-loving citizens and mowed several people down. The other side of the story blamed the incursion on the activities of members of so-called Eastern Security Network (ESN), an arm of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), who were said to have an operational base in the forest of Orlu -Orsu axis. There were viral video on the incident, but The AUTHORITY, like several other media houses, is not in a position to authenticate those video and their sources.

Earlier before the incident, there were shoot-out between purported members of the ESN and the security forces along the streets of Orlu. Several people were reportedly killed during the fracas, while property worth millions of Naira were destroyed.

The latest military activity in Orlu was no longer on the realm of speculation as the Imo State Government have since owned up to inviting the military and provided justification on why it extended such invitation.The state’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Barr. Cyprian Akaolisa said in Owerri Friday, that the state government had to bring in the military to arrest the orgy of violence ochestrated by the ESN members who were described as “hoodlums and criminals”.

Akolisa accused the leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, of engendering the lives of the people through alleged criminal activities of the ESN in Orlu. He said: “The activities of the ESN linked to the IPOB led by Nnamdi Kanu is endangering the lives of the people of the state and the state government will not allow that to continue and that was why the state government invited the military to flush out the hoodlums who call themselves members of ESN in the Orlu – Orsu axis of the state. We don’t have herdsmen in Orlu and those killed were not herdsmen.

“In Awo – Idemili, we have the largest cattle market in Orlu zone and the owners of these cows are not Fulani people but our people. So, we cannot allow hoodlums to continue to cause crisis in Orlu. ESN members have cashed in on the #EndSARS protest last year to murder many people including security personnel and took away their arms with which they are now using to operate. We commend the federal government for deploying the troops to the state and the military will not leave Orlu until normalcy is restored in the Orlu – Orsu axis”.

On his part, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba, urged the residents to disregard the rumour of fresh crisis in the area and go about their normal businesses. He stated that the state government is aware of “malicious rumours circulating around that the security situation in Orlu and environs has worsened. The purveyors of this tale went even further to impute that security forces have been shooting sporadically and arresting innocent citizens. For the avoidance of doubt, there is no truth whatsoever in those stories. If anything, the situation in Orlu has since been brought under control. There is absolute peace and calm in the city as people are going about their normal duties.

“Government is aware that opposition elements who abinitio instigated the crisis for selfish reasons are not happy that government quickly arrested the situation, hence the rumours. Government assures all law abiding Nigerians living in Orlu or passing through the town that the city is completely safe. They should therefore go about their lawful businesses without any let”.

The two top officials of the Imo State government have said it all. Needless creating mountain out of a mole hill. They have clarified what needed to be clarified. People should be cautious in how they handle information concerning the issue. People should also be careful on their reaction regarding the issue.

If anything, Governor Uzodinma is from Orlu Senatorial Zone; he wears the shoes, he knows where it pinches the more. We do not believe he is so reckless, as his political opponents would want people to believe that he could bring in the military to mow down his own people. We also do not believe he could bring in the military, which several state governors have said are not under their command and give them specific instructions on who should be their target. He does not have such powers and cannot exercise same, even though he is a prominent member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). Since the ruling party has been mentioned in this context, it has far a deeper meaning than the ordinary and the managers or the party, including its national leader, President Muhammadu Buhari, understands what the innuendoes exactly mean. They are no don-dee, neither are then political clowns. When a ruling party is derogatorily used, the handlers of the party know exactly what that means and The AUTHORITY needs not expatiate on that.

On its part, the military high command should not be moved to take actions that could be interpreted they are on a mission to annihilate. There is no doubt that the treatment of Boko Haram, kidnappers and bandit elements by the military compared with IPOB members are distinctively several kilometers apart. However, it behooves on the current helmsmen in the Armed Forces to apply greater wisdom than their immediate predecessors in this regard.

Governors of the South-East extraction and the traditional rulers and leaders or thought from the zone, must as a matter of priority change tactics on issues regarding IPOB, herdsmen attacks, kidnapping, banditry and general insecurity in the zone. It is true none can say they are sleeping on this matter, but the general impression is that their efforts are less than salutary to the generality of the citizenry in their zone. They must wake up and take up more realistic action towards flushing out the several criminal herdsmen operating in the forests in the zone.

It remains a wonder how a serious-minded business man or woman should operate his or her business in the thick forests. Certainly, there is something sinister about such a business. If a business operates in a clandestine manner without any discernible address, does not contribute to the economic well-being of their host communities, do not operate in ways that portray operators of such businesses as good citizen, then, something is definitely wrong with such a business. And that is the crux of the matter! Cattle herding have become an albatross on the people all over the country.

How come no government is interested in disclosing the owners of the cattle businesses in the country? How come owners of cattle have remained anonymous? And this is the only business that is operating anonymously in the country, yet, garners hundreds of millions of Naira to the pockets of the owners and yet, do not pay any tax or contribute meaningfully to their host communities. A visit to any of such designated cattle colony or sales point will only expose one to continuous foul stench emitting from such places, no doubt serious environmental hazard and health challenges, yet, not even local government authorities in such places bother to hem in environmental sanity to such places.

There is no doubt that cattle herders are mere agents to the cattle owners. Why we have all along failed to beam out searchlight to the owners of the cattle and vicariously hold them responsible for whatever atrocities said to be committed by the herders, remains a wonder. ESN have said for the umpteenth time that they are only after criminal herders who have proven to be above the law. That is why the military incursion against ESN should be applied cautiously. If the Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) become realistically accountable on such issues, there is no doubt that issues of what the federal government chose to call “Farmers/Herders Clashes” will be brought to its knees. But where DPOs are obviously partisan, several other sections of the country would be adopting self-help methods for curbing the menace which will be to nobody’s advantage. It can only promote exacerbated criminality, which is not in the interest of Nigeria as a nation.

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