Southeast governors on Sunday said the legal framework for Ebube Agu has been set in motion.
They directed attorneys-general of the five states to propose laws to give the outfit a legal teeth.
“The attorneys-general and commissioners for Justice of the Southeast states have been directed to work with the Joint Security Committee to come up with the amendment of the existing state laws to reflect the new Ebube Agu outfit,” they said
The governors launched Ebube Agu (glory of a tiger) on April 11 to address the region’s worsening insecurity.
Several police stations have been attacked and officers killed in the last three months, across the Southeast states.
The governors, who met in Enugu on Sunday, set up an Advisory Board for Ebube Agu after agreeing on its structure and operational modalities.
The decision forecloses the call by separatist Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) for the scrapping of Ebube Agu.
The governors condemned Saturday’s attack on the country home of Imo State Governor Hope Uzodinma.
The gunmen first shot two security men at Oguta junction, killed six guards at Uzodimma’s home before setting the house ablaze. The police confirmed three dead.
It followed the killing of a man simply identified as Ikonso, said to be the commander of the Eastern Security Network (ESN), a security arm of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
Ikonso was accused of coordinating the April 5 attack on the Imo police headquarters and the correctional centre in Owerri, in which 38 vehicles were burnt and 1,844 inmates freed.
The Southeast Governors Forum, in a communique read by its Chairman and Governor of Ebonyi State David Umahi, said Ebube Agu would work with security agencies.
“The meeting condemns the attacks on the country home of the Governor Uzodimma and other state infrastructure.
“We sympathise with him and call on the Federal Government to fish out the perpetrators and ensure their prosecution,” the governors said.
The Forum directed Ohanaeze Ndigbo President-General Prof. George Obiozor to set up within 10 days a Peace and Reconciliation Committee and a Strategy and Welfare Committee.
The committees have the mandates to “engage our people for the peace and security of our people and visitors” and to “engage and protect our people, especially those who are being unfairly treated”.
The governors reiterated their call for state police and restructuring of the country.
“The meeting is in support of restructuring, the setting up of state police and other national issues as discussed in the last National Executive Council (NEC) meeting.
“A committee has been set up to work out acceptable modalities and submit them to NEC in its next meeting,” the governors said
The meeting also restated the ban on open grazing in the region.
“Southeast leaders restate their commitments to our state laws banning open grazing in the Southeast and urge the security agencies and the local vigilantes to enforce the ban in all states of Southeast.
“Southeast governors agreed on the implementation of various #ENDSARS youth empowerment programmes in the Southeast states as soon as possible,” they added.
Governors of Enugu and Abia also attended the meeting; those of Anambra and Imo were represented by their deputies.
Also present were Prof Obiozor; Obi of Onitsha Igwe Alfred Achebe; Archbishop of Enugu Ecclesiastical Province, Anglican Communion, Rev. Emmanuel Chukwuma; former Governor of old Anambra State Chief Jim Nwobodo, elder statesmen Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, among others.
The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) condemned the attack on Uzodimma’s home.
Its chairman and Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, in a statement, urged Nigerians to support security agencies to curb the increasing spate of insecurity in the country.
The statement reads: “The Nigeria Governors’ Forum deeply sympathises with Governor Uzodinma and commiserates with all those that have been injured, maimed or killed.
“The forum calls on all good citizens to cooperate with the nation’s security forces and the government in trying to build a civil, safe and secure environment for our citizens.
“For those behind these crimes, they must understand that they do not have the monopoly of violence. This is taking criminality to reckless and irresponsible heights.
“All hands must be on deck to fish out the perpetrators of this dastardly act as in our view, they constitute a small league of persons trying to harm the corporate existence of our beloved country, Nigeria.”
Residents of Awo Omamma Community in Oru East Council Area of Imo State are deserting their homes following the attack on the governor’s premises.
With arrests being made amid heavy security presence, there is apprehension as the gunmen were said to have threatened to return.
A kinsman of the governor, who pleaded not to be named, said: “When I heard heavy gunfire during the attack on the governor’s home, I ducked.
“When things calmed down, I came out and was walking home with some kinsmen when we were surrounded by armed men.
“They took all our mobile phones and told us that the attack on the governor’s home was just the beginning, that they would be back.
“The villagers are vacating their homes to neighbouring communities. This is because some of us don’t trust these soldiers.”
Ohanaeze Ndigbo, in a statement by spokesman, Alex Ogbonna, deplored the attack.
“This is not acceptable and must be condemned by Ndigbo, anywhere, everywhere. We must as Igbo, no matter the cause, not attack our sanctuaries. This is an abomination and a new development that is totally out of character of the Igbo.
“The President General, therefore, warns Igbo youths not to be used or make themselves available to be used by those elements within and outside Igboland that want to turn the Southeast into a theatre of crises, conflicts and violence.”
The President, Ohanaeze Ndigbo in Imo State, Akpuelu Azunna, said it was too early to say who was behind the attack.
“The attack is condemnable,” he said while urging security agencies to get to the root of it.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Chief Mike Ahamba (SAN) urged Ndigbo not to allow anarchy in the land.
“The attack is very unfortunate and most condemnable and we must not allow anarchy to slip into our midst.
“Anarchy is dangerous past time anytime, anywhere. I think it’s a very bad development,” he said.
Former President of Aka Ikenga, Chief Goddy Uwazuruik, expressed shock at the attack.
“The Federal Government should make effort to find out who is doing the bombings and creating an atmosphere of uncertainty in the Southeast,” he said.
IPOB, in a statement by its spokesman Emma powerful, condemned the killing of its members in Imo.
It said those responsible for the killing of its commander would “pay” for it.
Powerful, who also spoke on Channels, said the Army did not have the wherewithal to penetrate its camp and that Ikonso was ambushed while visiting his village.
“It is a lie. Nigerian Army does not have the wherewithal to enter IPOB’s camp. IPOB and ESN are intact. God is on our side,” he said.
He also said the slain commander had been replaced.
In the statement, Powerful said: “The killing of the heroic innocent Biafrans protecting our communities and towns from terrorist herdsmen masquerading as cattle herders in cold blood is very painful.
“The Supreme Court Administrator of Imo State Hope Uzodinma and all those who had a hand in this wickedness will pay dearly – Hope Uzodinma and his cowardly Nigerian security agencies that cannot confront terrorists but only flex their muscles when they see Biafra agitators.”