South-east governors and other Igbo leaders are set to meet President Bola Tinubu over rising insecurity in the region, Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State said on Thursday.
Mr Uzodinma disclosed this while speaking with reporters shortly after meeting with Mr Tinubu at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The governor recalled that he and other governors from the five states in the South-east and the leadership of the Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, had resolved to meet with the president over the insecurity in the region.
He explained that he was at the Presidential Villa to secure an appointment for the meeting between the South-east leaders and Mr Tinubu.
“My visit has to do with the security situation in the country. The South-eastern part of the country, of course, you are aware, has been bedevilled with this high level of security ranging from banditry, kidnapping activities of unknown gunmen,” he said.
Mr Uzodinma regretted that the insecurity in the region had persisted despite resources and community efforts invested to quell the situation.
The governor said the leaders would request the president to support them in addressing the insecurity in the region.
At the meeting, the Igbo leaders are expected to continue their demand for the release of Nnamdi Kanu, the separatist leader who is being prosecuted by the federal government for treason.
IPOB’s sit-at-home order
There have been recurring sit-at-home orders in the South-east, often declared by a faction of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
Simon Ekpa, the leader of Autopilot, a faction of the IPOB, has been issuing the orders despite opposition by the IPOB faction led by its detained leader, Nnamdi Kanu.
Days after a one-week sit-at-home order ended in the South-east, Mr Ekpa declared another two weeks’ lockdown in the region.
The latest order, according to the pro-Biafran agitator, would hold from 31 July to 4 August and continue from 7 to 11 August. The action, which the group plans to violently enforce, would then end on 14 August.
But Mr Uzodinma said the sit-at-home orders were not sanctioned by either the various state governments in the region or the federal government, adding that those who obey the illegal order do so out of fear.
“The situation is that because of the indiscriminate killing of people and high level of insecurity, our people are so afraid to come out, not only because there’s any sit-at-home order. It is perception management that we’re trying to do.
“So, they (enforcers of the orders) have put too much fear into the people. Otherwise, how can non-state actors give a sit-at-home order and it will be obeyed? People are scared. People are afraid because of what they’ve seen in the past. And nobody wants to die,” he said.
Mr Ekpa, the controversial agitator, hails from Ngbo, a community in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. But he lives in Finland, a North European country.
Asked if the Igbo leaders were exploring some “diplomatic options” to stop Mr Ekpa’s actions in the region, Mr Uzodinma stressed that he and other governors in the region would not be able to carry out such action because “diplomacy and the foreign policy programmes” can only be executed by the federal government.
“We are worried by the level of insecurity in the region, (and) the contributions of some people within and outside the country. Federal government still remains the only platform that can address both foreign and local content contributors to this problem,” he stated.
‘I don’t operate security vote in Imo’
In Nigeria, the federal government often allocates security votes to state governors, a monthly allowance for funding security expenditures within the state.
The act is not backed up by any Nigerian law.
Mr Uzodinma said his administration does not “operate” the security vote in the state.
“Security vote, I’m not against it, but I don’t operate it in Imo state. Again, you should find out from my parliament, I don’t operate it in Imo State but I still think that governors should be given a headroom, governors should be allowed a window to have funds they can use to manage security issues,” he said.
“So, it is then important that governors who have been elected, sworn in to manage the resources and the mandate of the people, be given latitude to operate so that they’ll be able to provide results.”