By Phil Okose Onitsha
Facts emerged yesterday that the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Mr Ibrahim Idris, has no power whatsoever, to disarm vigilante groups enacted by the state laws.
Making this disclosure to newsmen in Onitsha, Anambra state, the President of Igbo Ekunie Initiative, a coalition of professionals in Nigeria and Diaspora, Mazi Tochukwu Ezeoke, warned that disarming the vigilante groups will no doubt cause insecurity in Nigeria as that directive would be resisted by states backed up by their state laws.
Urging the IGP to allow sleeping dog to lie, the group’s President told the IGP to focus on how to curtail the incessant killings of innocent Nigerians by the Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram and leave the vigilante groups who have played more roles in fighting crime in Nigeria alone than the police.
In a press release signed by the President, Ezeoke, and his secretary, Lawrence Nwobu, which was made available to newsmen in Onitsha, the group said, “the attention of Igbo Ekunie Initiative, has been drawn to the recent directive issued by the IGP to the 36 states of Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory police commands to confiscate arms and ammunitions including unprohibited firearms or gaming/hunting guns legitimately used by various states, rural and urban communities and vigilantes in Nigeria“.
“We hereby condemn and denounce the IGP’s directive in the strongest possible terms and have been shocked that the Anambra state Commissioner of Police, Mr Garba Umar, has furtherance to the enforcement of the directive, ordered members of the public to individually and groups such as vigilante groups, neighbourhood watch, town union, hunters and night watchmen to surrender and hand over their arms and ammunitions to the police before the expiration of 21 days.
We maintain that the IGP’s directive as it relates to the South East is absolutely worrisome and uncalled for especially when taken into perspective that states like Anambra, Ebonyi and Enugu are among the most peaceful states in the country”.
“The Police boss failed woefully to address his mind to the reality that in some states like Anambra, Imo and Abia that the local vigilante groups have been accorded local recognition as bonafide vigilante groups working in the communities for the state. These vigilantes assist or collaborate with the police to maintain law and order in their various domains.
Anambra state House of Assembly enacted the vigilante group law 2004, a similar scenario took place in Enugu 2006 and Abia also has a law enacted.”
“One could have expected the IGP to address the issue of blood-letting all over Nigeria by the rampaging terrorist Fulani herdsmen whose genocidal crimes of huge proposition have so far baffled and overwhelmed the IGP and entire security forces in Nigeria”
“The unwise and unilateral directive of the IGP show the force is totally aloof in matters of influx, proliferation, possession and use of firearms particularly those classified by the firearms Act of 2004 of the Federation of Nigeria as prohibited firearms .
We warn that the enforcement of the unwise and myopic directive of the IGP will further aggravate the already tensed security all over the country with the likely clampdown and skirmishes that will naturally ensue when Nigerians expectedly ignore and resist the ill fated directive” he stated.