Enugu — More groups have joined the league rejecting the idea mooted by the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN, to set up a vigilante group in the South East, with some groups describing the request as very provocative.
Igbo Ekunie Initiative, IEI, a coalition of professionals in Nigeria and the Diaspora, in their position described the demand of MACBAN as "reckless and provocative".
A leading civil rights group in the South East, International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law, Intersociety, said it would not join issues with the Miyetti Allah but "we are holding the South East Governors, mostly that of Enugu, Anambra and Ebonyi States responsible for hobnobbing with the terrorists group".
The Igbo National Council, INC, in their own reaction out rightly rejected the request and asked the Igbo people to start preparing to defend themselves from any attack by armed herdsmen and warned that "enough is enough". They also threatened to declare Miyetti Allah, persona non grata, should the group fail to apologize to Ndigbo over their statement in the next 48 hours.
The Coalition of South East Youth Leaders (COSEYL), said the demand by MACBAN was "an insult of the highest order", pointing out that allowing that would amount to committing " an abomination in Igbo land".
Also, Anambra State chapter of the Civil Liberties Organization, CLO, described the call as quite unacceptable and an insult on Ndigbo.
Igbo Ekunie Initiative specifically warned against the consequences of any attempt to export what they described as "infamously vicious and violent Fulani militia into any part of Igbo land".
In a press statement jointly signed by its president and secretary, Mazi Tochukwu Ezeoke and Lawrence Nwobu, respectively, Igbo Ekunie Initiative said the request was "absolutely uncalled for and worrisome especially when taken into perspective that States like Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi, Abia and Imo are among the most peaceful areas of the country.
"There is absolutely no threat in any form to the Fulani people living in the South-East nor to their business interests that should warrant the establishment of a Fulani defence corp.
"We maintain that we already have effective local vigilante services all over the South-East to augment the services of the secular security services and there is absolutely no need to pollute the already harmonious security relationship by adding the Fulani militia into the equation.
"One would have expected that the Miyetti Allah should devote its energy and resources to assisting in addressing the reckless and cruel bloodletting all over Northern Nigeria by the Fulani herdsmen whose genocide crimes of huge proportions have so far baffled and overwhelmed the entire security apparatchiks in Nigeria".
The Human Rights Liberty Access and Peace Defenders Foundation, HURIJE, said it is quite unfortunate that the federal government disarmed local vigilante outfits in the South East and allowed the Fulani herdsmen to carry AK 47 about freely.
"Government should disarm Fulani herdsmen now because arming them in the South East in the name of establishment of vigilante will give them license to penetrate South East and kill more people, since the hands of our security personnel are tied".
Intersociety's Board of Trustees Chairman, Emeka Umeagbalasi, said with the exit of Rochas Okorocha of Imo state as the grand supporter of Miyetti Allah and his replacement with Governor Emeka Ihedioha who is still relatively new, Governors Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu, Willie Obiano of Anambra and Dave Umahi of Ebonyi "should be held responsible for all the atrocities Miyetti Allah had committed in South East so far, with the exception of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu who according to their investigation, is not working together with the Miyetti Allah".
NAF debunks report of dropping weapons for herdsmen in Enugu
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, has debunked the recent social media report alleging that NAF training helicopters dropped weapons at Akwuke Forest in Enugu State, saying it was "total falsehood and lies by mischief-makers".
Flight Lieutenant and acting Public Relations and Information Officer of NAF Ground Training Command, GTC, Enugu, Lt, Faith Aigbeoghain made this condemnation in a statement issued to pressmen yesterday in Enugu.
According to Aigbeoghain: "The attention of Headquarters GTC of Nigerian Air Force, NAF, Enugu has been drawn to a social media and online story being circulated by some mischievous and misguided elements.
"The mischievous elements purported that NAF helicopters were being used to drop weapons for Fulani herdsmen in the forest area of Akwuke community in Enugu South Local Government Area in Enugu State.
"The report alleged that helicopters had been seen on several occasions flying at low level and landing in the forest area to discharge their packages", she said.
She however dismissed the report as deliberately misleading and obviously concocted by the writer to cause disaffection and incite negative divisive emotions among Nigerians.
Aigbeoghain who further explained that NAF have two helicopter training institutions under its purview which have been operating in Enugu for several years pointed out that these are International Helicopter Flying School, IHFS and 405 Helicopter Combat Training Group (405 HCTG), whose training curricula include low level flying around the forest areas near Akukwe as one of their designated training areas.
"In particular, the 405 HCTG commenced tactical training on the newly acquired 109 Power Helicopters on May 24, 2019, which includes low level flying as well as other maneuvres requiring them to land and take off within the training area.
"However, at no time was any NAF helicopter used to 'drop' any materials, let alone deliver weapons to any individual or group.
"Members of the public, especially residents of Enugu State, are therefore advised to discountenance the fake report and go about their normal activities without fear," she said.
The NAF Command spokesperson said that NAF, as a professional fighting force, remained resolute in performing its constitutional role of defending the territorial integrity of a united Nigeria.
"Accordingly, we shall continue to work assiduously, in synergy with sister services and other security agencies, to rid the country of all criminal elements in order to enable all Nigerians pursue their legitimate aspirations," she added.