The five governors of the South East of Nigeria met in Enugu last week to deliberate on the security situation of the region. The impact of the now infamous “Sit-at-Home” forced on the South East has taken its toll, and the chickens have come home to roost. The economic and social life of the South East has taken such a hit and has been damaged almost irretrievably.
Against the background of the South East governors meeting are videos emerging of Asari Dokubo’s claims and counter claims, in interviews granted to television stations, the recent being with Channel TV’s Seun Okinbaloye, in which he plainly accepted that he owned and ran a private Army which had been contracted by the Federal Government to engage in Black Ops for the government.
Asari’s contract clearly was to do what government cannot legitimately do, include kill innocent Nigerians, and subvert an entire region, and provide the Buhari administration ultimate deniability. But Asari is squealing. He even claims, and people in the South East have known this for a long time that he works in partnership with the Nigerian military. The Unknown Gunmen had tactical help and disappeared into the military barracks which how come they remained “invisible” and protected.
But of course, the Nigerian military has issued a statement denying partnership with Asari Dokubo’s private army, or any knowledge of the nature of its contracts with Buhari’s NSA. All one can say at this point is, weird! But how did we get here? What road led to this situation where the South East, once Nigeria’s most peaceful and productive region, succumbed and slipped to normlessness?
For years, Nigerians were familiar with the kidnappings in the Niger Delta, the assassinations and human trafficking in the South West; the rise of Boko Haram and terrorism in the North of Nigeria. In the period, the South East seemed almost inured from these degeneracy, and contended only with petty thievery, mercantile con, and such like. Stuff for beginners. As a matter of fact, South Easterners resisted and rose vehemently against the rise of the “Bakassi Boys” – a militia raised by the governors in the South East to combat incipient criminality in places like Aba and Onitsha. The “Bakassi Boys” were effective, but they came with a certain level of brutality which disenchanted the Easterners who feared that they were becoming uncontrollable laws unto themselves. They forced the governors to dismantle the “Bakassi Boys,” because those boys were asserting extra-judicial authority and growing beyond their breeches.
So, how did the Igbo allow the so-called IPOB and ESN to impose themselves on the South East, forcing them to hide in their homes every Monday? The fact is, it was neither the IPOB nor the ESN, whose leaders have consistently, vehemently denied any involvements in the killings and the forced confinements in the East. They have consistently asked this question: what do we stand to gain in the violence in the East? The fact is that “insecurity in the South East” is the doing of some dark force which had the backings of the Buhari government. The story began with the election of Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.
The South East voters, mostly Igbo, did not trust Buhari, both in his ability to govern a multi-ethnic nation like Nigeria, and in his narrow politics. This mistrust of Buhari goes way back to Buhari’s participation in the July 1966 coup and the organized massacre of the Igbo. Buhari was also a remorseless combatant in the civil war which the Igbo fought against the federation of Nigeria. Mr. Buhari did not seem to have overcome the psychological effects of that war. Even though he seemed to have made moves to work with Igbo like Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Chuba Okadigbo, and Edwin Ume-Ezeoke, the Igbo voters rejected him consistently at the polls.
It has been said of Buhari by those who know him intimately, that he never forgives a slight. And so, the man never hid behind niceties when he declared his intentions to discriminate against those who gave him only 5% of the votes in favor of those who gave him 75%. Buhari put this into play very brazenly from the moment of his inauguration: he established of policy of discrimination and containment of the Igbo. He isolated them from the commonwealth. He did not appoint any Igbo to his Executive office. None to his security staff. There was no Igbo in public policy in the Presidency.
To drive home his disdain, he only made an Igbo the Photographer of Aso Rock. The symbolism was acute: the Igbo were to be mere observers, while others, particularly his kinsmen were the real actors of power. He basically gave the South East, the middle finger. Seeing the trajectory of the Buhari administration, within months, young Igbo went to the streets and mounted street protests against Buhari’s policy of discrimination.
Rather than act as the leader of the nation, and call these young protesters in for rapprochement, Buhari sent in policemen and soldiers, and ordered them to shoot at peaceful protesters with live bullets. Neither the National Assembly, nor the governments of the South East and the South-South states called the president to order on the needless use of force and killings of unarmed youth, mostly Igbo protesting in Enugu, Aba, Onitsha, Port-Harcourt, and Asaba. Young Igbo men and women were shot like dogs on the street for protesting the Buhari policies.
The most egregious was the killing of a young woman on the street in Onitsha. But rather than drive them under, these killings enraged these young Igbo protesters, who said, “ok, if you do not want us in Nigeria, and guarantee our rights as Nigerian citizens, let us go and revive the sovereign state of Biafra. In fact, call a referendum!” they insisted. It was a sharp about-turn for Nnamdi Kanu, hitherto a convinced Nigerian nationalist and campaigner for Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as president. But perceiving the situation of the Igbo of the South East under Buhari as untenable, Nnamdi Kanu became a convinced Biafran activist.
These killings, and the unwarranted use of force against peaceful street protests led these Bafran activists to adopt another peaceful, non-violent method of protest: “the sit-at home” protest, to demonstrate non-violent support for Nnamdi Kanu, who had been extraordinarily renditioned from Kenya. The IPOB announced it, and it was heeded without force or compulsion from Port-Harcourt to Asaba. It was a wild and unanticipated success which shocked the Buhari government, and challenged its own narrative of IPOB as a terrorist organization. But policy set down by Britain to recognize and grant asylum to pro-Biafran activists triggered the violent reaction by the Buhari government and the use of Black Ops to ignite violence in the East and tar IPOB as a violent terrorist organization. What has been happening in the South-East is a low intensity war organized and executed by Buhari’s NSA.
To discredit the Biafran agitators, and turn hearts and minds against them, they used lowball methods, scaled it up, and turned a peaceful protest into a violent and coercive protest. Buhari’s security agents broke into Maximum security prisons in Owerri and Abuja, freed all sorts of criminals, including armed robbers and murderers, and unleashed them on the South East. They recruited a low life called Asari Dokubo, armed him, and gave him the charge of these cretins to harass and violate the South-East.
Dokubo’s ragtag army of ex-bandits, criminals, junkies, creek rats, and such like have laid siege on the South-East, under the guide and tactical partnership with the military who have very clearly provided them coverage, though they now deny it. From the contours of the statements made by Asari Dokubo in his various interviews, it seems all too clear now that Asari Dokubo and his Army are the Unknown Gunmen who have been operating in the South East; causing mayhem, and doing contract killing of the Igbo of the South East on behalf of the Buhari administration.
This ostensibly to offer them deniability from the stark fallouts of that policy. The facts are only just emerging, and I hope that the governors of the South East meeting this past week on the security of the South East factored these revelations in their discussion. It is urgent and imperative for the governors of the South East to raise a petition before the Council of state, and the Representatives of the South Eastern states to call for the National Assembly to use its investigative powers to investigate former President Buhari, his NSA, and ascertain the extent of the involvement of the Nigerian military and other security agencies in the quite extraordinary illegal use of a private army to carry out extraordinary subversion of a federating region of Nigeria under guise of fighting Biafran separatists.
What funds were used? Did the National Assembly sign off on these operations that quite clearly violate the constitution of Nigeria? These revelations should necessitate the trial and jailing of the ex-president and whoever participated in this scandalous misuse of power and the levying of internal war against a constituent part of Nigeria, which has turned the South East into an economic and social wasteland. Dokubo’s private Army is a very dangerous development.
, and he must answer to the unsolved killings, like the death of the Port-Harcourt real estate mogul, Gabe Ofoma, who was killed on his way back to Port-Harcourt after a weekend in his Nnewi country home, and Dr. Chike Akunyili, husband of Dora Akunyili. Asari Dokubo must account for them, and that private Army must be disbanded summarily and contained.
By: Obi Nwakanma