Southeast Governors Forum Chairman and Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi yesterday warned that the rising criminality, especially the attacks on policemen and formations, can consume the region.
According to him, most of the criminal attacks were not by herdsmen but by the criminals from the region.
The governor said: “We are also problems to ourselves. We enjoin leaders to rise to condemn this because it is a little monster that if encouraged can consume all of us beyond the herdsmen menace.
“We condemn totally the killings of policemen and burning of police stations in the Southeast.
“They are not being done by herdsmen; they are done by people across the Southeast – bandits and criminals.
“My directive to a policeman is that if you see anybody coming to kill you, demobilise the person, that is the rule of engagement.
“Policemen should not fold their hands and be killed. I want Southeast leaders to rise to condemn this.
“How would we feel if because of the killings and burning of police stations in the Southeast, the Federal Government withdraws all the policemen? The people claiming to protect us are not doing so.
“Let us not create another monster in the Southeast, otherwise we will all regret it.”
Umahi confirmed the killing of two persons over a boundary dispute between the Ezilo and Iyionu communities of Ebonyi.
He ordered the arrest of the councillor representing the area for his role in the crisis.
Speaking after the state security council meeting, the governor said a committee was on the verge of resolving the dispute having declared the land a buffer zone.
“But the councillor took some foreign investors to the land and this led to shootings, during which two persons died,” he said
The governor said the killings showed that the problems were beyond herdsmen.
“We want to place it on record that there are no herdsman is in Ebonyi as of now. We didn’t ask them to leave. They left on their own, meaning that they were privy to the attacks in Ebonyi. For their safety, they should please not return now.
“We are still killing ourselves; we are killing policemen, we are burning police stations, which means that the Southeast should know that our problem is not just herdsmen.
“We are also problems to ourselves and we enjoin leaders to rise up to condemn this because it is a little monster that if it is encouraged, can consume all of us beyond the herdsmen menace.
“So, we have sent messages to the leadership of Miyetti Allah: ‘please Ebonyi is under tension because of these killings.’
“We will want them to still stay out until such a time that it will be safe for the traditional ones to show face,” he said.
Shooting on Enugu-Abakaliki road
The movement of vehicles along the Enugu Abakaliki expressway was halted yesterday following a heavy shooting at the Ezilo axes.
A passenger, Afam Cyprian, who was travelling to Enugu said travellers were stranded at Okpoto for about an hour.
He said military patrol vans were on the highway but told them not to advance.
“Many people are looking for another route. Some have gone back to take Afikpo road. I am looking for a way to go back to Abakaliki,” he said.
Police spokesperson, Loveth Odah, said the Commissioner of Police, Aliyu Garba, dispatched patrol teams to restore peace and open up the road for users.
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She however said the shooting could not be related to the boundary dispute as the area is not close to the highway.