|Emeka Umeagbalasi of Intersociety|
From Thursday to Sat, 15th to 17th April 2021, lettered stakeholders from ‘host’ and ‘guest’ residents of the Southeast were assembled at Owerri, Imo State to brainstorm over state actor aided deteriorating insecurity in the Region and among the resource persons who took their time and turn to x-ray and examine the rising insecurity in the Region and proffer critical solutions was Emeka Umeagbalasi, a grassroots rights and democracy campaigner since 1995. He is also a Criminologist and Graduate of Security Studies and Master of Science Degree holder in Peace and Conflict Resolution.
The event was organized by Neighborhood Environment Watch Foundation, founded by Okezie Kelechi, PhD; an Environmentalist and Human Rights & Social Justice activist and funded by Savannah Center for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development (SCDDD), a centre founded by Prof Ibrahim Gambari, a renowned diplomat and top Aide of the Nigerian Presidency. The theme of the program was: Imperative of National Dialogue for Unity, Security and Development-Southeast Zonal Stakeholders Dialogue.
Umeagbalasi had at the event spoken on: X-raying the Current Insecurity in the Southeast: the Role of the Stakeholders or what the Stakeholders must do during which he blamed the present Federal Government of Nigeria and its security forces particularly the Nigerian Army for the rising insecurity in the Region and accused them of promoting and sustaining policy of structural violence, physical violence and cultural violence against the Region and its population. The Southeast insecurity was also strongly blamed on years of unaddressed state actor injustices including massacre of hundreds of defenseless citizens, indiscriminate clampdowns on self determination activists and uninvolved others, ethnic profiling or hatred and crackdowns on the basis of ethnicity and religion, state’s unwillingness to fish out and punish the perpetrators and aiding of the jihadist activities of the Fulani Herdsmen, etc; totality of which can lead to ‘citizens’ reprisal radicalism’ and widespread defensive self help.
The 8-page paper, which is a must read, is attached here: https://intersociety-ng.org/expert-paper-the-rising-state-actor-aided-insecurity-in-southeast-nigeria-and-what-the-stakeholders-must-doby-emeka-umeagbalasi-ivlp-fellow-board-chair-intl-society-for-civil-liberti/
The paper also highlighted and lamented that out of fifteen key Army and Police formations in the Southeast, twelve are headed by Muslims including ten Fulani-Hausa Muslims and two Southwest Muslims and out of the fifteen, only one is Igbo and two others Hausa Christian (CP, Anambra) and South-south Christian (CP, Abia). In the Southeast gateway States of Benue, Edo, Delta, Rivers, Cross River, Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa, out of their fifteen key Army and Police formations, thirteen are headed by Muslims including ten Fulani-Hausa Muslims and two Southwest Muslims and only two are Christians including Rivers State Commissioner of Police who is from Delta State.
Sixteen (16) Critical Solutions To Southeast Insecurity:
The Nigerian Government must demilitarize the Southeast Region and its key outposts including its named gateway neighbors by removing them from the military and police siege and withdrawing all the deployed military and police personnel on their roads, boundaries and other strategic locations.
The flooding of the Region and its outposts with Fulani-Hausa Muslim military and police commanders must be reversed and all the top officers named above and similar others removed or transferred out of the Region and its outposts. The percentage of Muslim senior Military and Policing officers to be posted to the Region and its named outposts must be drastically reduced to 30% so as to allow the Christian indigenous officers to fill 70% of the total slots or positions and give the indigenous citizens of the Region a true sense of security and safety.
All Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen, clandestinely aided and brought by the military and the police of the Nigerian Government and permanently settled in farmlands, bushes and forests in the Region and its key outposts must be moved out and relocated back to their northern bases and others where they were brought from.
The Nigerian Government must discontinue its clandestine policy of turning Southern and Middle Belt Nigeria into Sharia or Caliphate colony and respect the country’s pluralistic composition and secular status or its multi-cultural composition including non imposition of Islam as a state religion and respect for citizens’ freedom of religion and religious belief and freedom from discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity and religion, etc.
The constitutional rights to citizens’ freedom of residency and movement and ownership of property must no longer be misconstrued and misinterpreted by Government. These guaranteed rights are practicable and operable only to the extent of them being in strict conformity with the country’s Criminal laws and procedures and the Chapter Four of its 1999 Constitution and the ratified and domesticated African Charter on Human and People’s Rights Act of 2004 including rights of citizens of the country to peacefully and nonviolently reside in urban residential areas anywhere in Nigeria and own moveable and immoveable properties. In other words, the Constitution does not guarantee any citizen right to live violently outside his or her area of birth or move into another farmland or bush or forest and settle in same with small arms and light weapons and engage in terror-jihadist acts.
The Nigerian Government must frontally address and reverse the top security appointment imbalances highlighted above especially flooding key military and policing formations in the Southeast Region and its outposts with senior military and policing officers of Fulani-Hausa and Southwest Muslim backgrounds and revert back to Constitutional Sections 10, 14 (3), 42 and 217 (3) in balancing the appointments and postings.
Until the named top security posts’ imbalances are addressed and reversed, the Southeast Governors must steer clear or stay away from raising a regional security outfit and allow same to be operated by non state actors with capacity of being more independent and effective. Instead, the Southeast Governors, in consultation with critical indigenous stakeholders, shall send anti open grazing and odd hours grazing bills and get them passed into law by the Houses of Assembly of the Southeast Region and possibly that of Delta State.
There shall be a special probe panel to criminally investigate the listed massacres or butcheries so as to fish out the perpetrators and put them on trial or hand them over to ICC for international prosecution and victims of the butcheries must be carefully and harmlessly identified and adequately compensated or catered for.
The proscription of IPOB must be revisited and reversed; likewise that of Islamic Movement in Nigeria or Shiite Muslims and all their members presently abducted and held in secret dungeons by the Army, Police and DSS must be freed and all pending criminal proceedings against them and their members dropped and discontinued in all the courts across the country.
The Nigerian Government must reverse its renewed crackdowns on IPOB activists and other innocent citizens labeled so and unconditionally release or free not less than 500 IPOB activists and innocent others secretly abducted across Eastern Nigeria since Jan 2021 by DSS, Army and Police and presently held in secret locations within and outside Eastern Nigeria without court bail and trial. Not only that the abducted Igbo citizens are presently undergoing torture and other inhuman and degrading treatments or punishments but also scores are most likely to have faced unlawful executions and extrajudicial killings in captivity.
It is shocking that till date, the Nigerian Government and its Army is still holding in secrecy since Oct/Nov 2020 hundreds of citizens of Anambra, Imo, Abia, Ebonyi and Enugu States who are residents of Obigbo in Rivers State. The abductees include Citizen Elvis Chigbu and 109 others secretly abducted since past six months and presently held at the Nigerian Army Commando Base in far away Bida, Niger State. All the abductees numbering over 200 must be freed.
Federal and Southeast Governments must genuinely enter into credible negotiations with IPOB and other pro Biafra groups and decriminalize all their lawful activities especially those bordering on regionally and internationally recognized rights to self determination including ethnic identity, existence, development and freedom of worship and religion or freedom to hold religious beliefs without persecution or state terrorization.
The Nigerian Government must end its sustained policy of political and economic exclusion and segregation against the Southeast Region, its outposts and their populations and capture the Region and its outposts in the mainstream of the country’s social, economic, technological and political developments, projects and processes.
There shall be a National Dialogue/Constitutional Conference, to be attended by representatives of all ethnic nationalities in Nigeria and other indigenous stakeholders. The reps to such National Dialogue/Constitutional Conference shall be drawn according to population size of every ethnic nationality, using the United Nations national and constituent population projections for the country.
The National Dialogue/Constitutional Conference shall address the concerns of Nigerians including the type of government (i.e. regionalism or federalism or confederacy and security arrangements such as decentralization of the military and policing forces), religious practices and freedoms and a new constitution to be put in place to replace the non inclusive and militarist 1999 Constitution.
The Conference shall also be allowed to determine whether Nigeria will continue peacefully and harmoniously as one or be peacefully divided autonomously or regionally or independently with six new republics; namely: “Kanuri Republic”, “Arewa Republic”, “Middle Belt Republic”, “Oduduwa Republic”, “Republic of Igbo” and “Niger Delta Republic” or “Republic of Biafra” (one country for Peoples of Old Mid West and Old Eastern Nigeria, now Southeast and South-south).
For: International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law
Barr Chidimma Evangeline Udegbunam
Head, Campaign and Publicity
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Website: intersociety-ng.org