A media group, Enugu Journalists’ Forum (EJF), at the weekend, called on state governments and leaders of thought in the South-East zone to put in place measures to firmly protect the region from Fulani herdsmen and other criminal elements.
The group stated in a statement that the call had become necessary in view of the planned take off of the South-West’s security outfit, Amotekun, which was put together by governors in the zone.
The Abuja-based media group, in a statement by the Acting President, Malachy Uzendu, and Publicity Secretary, Onyekachi Eze, expressed fears that criminal elements may now have safe haven in the South-East if the heat becomes too much on them when the Amotekun becomes operational in South-West.
“This is not the time to sit on the fence. We expect our Governors and Leaders of Thought to begin preparations for a regional security outfit to protect our people.
“There is so much insecurity in the South-East before now. Many of our people have either been kidnapped or killed, women and young girls raped by these marauding herdsmen and their allies.
“Security of lives and property can no longer be entrusted in the hands of Divisional Police Officers, Anti-Robbery and Anti-Kidnapping Squads and Mobile Police Formations, who appear to be more interested in mounting road blocks to extort money than the protection of the people.
“We call on our South-East Governors and State Houses of Assembly to put machineries in motion for the establishment of a regional security outfit to protect our people,” the group advised.
The EJF noted that not less than 30 Catholic Priests and several ordinary people including academics, Traditional Rulers and Business Moguls have either been kidnapped or killed by the Fulani herdsmen in the South-East last year, pointing out that the situation could worsen with the likely influx of criminal elements from the South-West to the region.
It however commended the Enugu State Government for establishing the Forest Rangers, but said that it should be extended to other states in the region, and backed by legislation.
The journalists’ group also, commended the Enugu State Government for the demolition of structures to make way for total and comprehensive rehabilitation and expansion of the closed Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu.
It regretted the pains of people of the region since the Airport was shut down last year, and said the delay by the Federal Government for its rehabilitation had untold hardship, especially during the yuletide.
EJF enjoined those whose properties were demolished to see such as sacrifice for the wellbeing of the people and called on the Federal Government to expedite action on the project so that the Airport can be put to use before Easter.