Political will, dialogue necessary to end sit-at-home – Security experts

Following the lingering insecurity and violence occasioned by the sit-at-home in the South-East, some security consultants have said the federal and state governments must show political will, respect the rule of law and have a dialogue with key stakeholders in the region to end the menace.

A security consultant and Chief Executive Officer, Beacon Consulting, an indigenous security risk management and intelligence consulting company, Dr Kabir Adamu, told our correspondent in an interview on Thursday that the government, Nnamdi Kanu, and his supporters must be ready to obey the law.

In spite of efforts by present and former governors in the region to end the sit-at-home and insecurity, the Monday sit-at-home has continued. At the moment, there have been reports of violence in the region over the one-week sit-at-home ordered by the Simon Ekpa-led faction of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra.

Among several incidents, on Friday night, the Amaraku Market in Isiala Mbano Local Government Area of Imo State was razed and some vehicles burnt, while a tricycle rider was also killed in Owerri, the state capital.

On Tuesday, gunmen set ablaze a police patrol van at Ukwuagba-Ngbo community in the Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, as part of the enforcement of the one week sit-at-home.

The attackers were said to have stormed a police checkpoint in the area and ordered policemen on duty to leave the scene, while they set their van ablaze. The splinter group had penultimate week declared a one-week sit-at-home across the South-East.

Speaking on how to address the problem, Adamu said, “Like every part of Nigeria, the South-East is being bedeviled by insecurity challenges. We are shying away from calling it what it is. It is quite unfortunate because those people are not ghosts. They operate within the environment. The security agencies and the locals know them. I think it is a reflection of how bad things have become in the country that we are using the term ‘unknown gunmen’.

“To address the issues, it will be a combination of political, social, and security initiatives. Hence, there has to be a political decision which will involve the state, local government, traditional rulers, and everyone who has influence.”

Adamu said the grievances that led to the security challenge, regarding real and perceived marginalisation, had to be addressed by both the federal and state governments.

He said there was also the need to strengthen the administration of the criminal justice system, such that anyone who picks up arms illegally and is not a member of any security organisation should be arrested and prosecuted.

Speaking on the calls for Kanu’s release as a means to douse tension in the region, Adamu said, “Nnamdi Kanu is among the political discussion to ensure peace in the region. The Federal Government has accused him of certain offenses, and at a point, the court released him on bail. But for some reason, he was not released on bail. We can’t operate in a country that does not obey the rule of law.

“If the court says Kanu should be released on bail, then he should be released on bail. If the Federal Government has enough evidence to support the allegations against him, they should present the evidence in court. If they don’t have it, he should be released with conditions. Just as the Federal Government should obey the rule of law, Kanu too should obey the law and those incitements should stop. All sides need to comply with the provisions of the law.”

Also, a security consultant, Chigozie Ubani, who is a fellow, at the Institute of Security, Nigeria, told our correspondent that while the activities of the gunmen should be condemned and treated in accordance with the law, the Federal Government should look into the root cause of the problem.

He stated, “Why are people raising guns against the state? From the Niger Delta, Asari Dokubo is raising guns. It is the same thing in the Northeast. For the South-East, Nnamdi Kanu is the issue. He has been in detention against court orders to release him. The Federal Government, through the courts, has kept him in custody and his case is as slow as a snail.

“Why is the government deliberately instigating this? Let the government look into Nnamdi Kanu’s case by meeting South-East stakeholders and working out something. It has to be a win-win situation.

“It must not be the way the government wants it or how Kanu wants it. That is why political leaders are very important at this time. There are some new governors in the South East with a new mindset. Ohanaeze is also there. A few more stakeholders should also be involved.”

Ubani argued that if Kanu is released, the unrest would stop, stressing that the government needed to act fast to curtail the situation.

(Punch)