Growing instability in the South South : Who is responsible?
As Nigeria faces serious security threats, there are growing fears that the South South geopolitical zone may become a hotbed of conflict if utmost care is not taken.
Attacks by unknown persons have been recorded in Rivers and Akwa Ibom states.
Whereas Rivers suffered two attacks in which security men were killed in Ikwerre and Abua/Odual Local Government Areas, the latest hits in Akwa Ibom have taken a complete different dimension.
There are reports that the Biafran separatist flag was hoisted on Akwa Ibom soil, according to a Daily Post account.
These separate incidents within the South South are raising concerns among the people of the geopolitical zone, with most leaders wondering which state in the region would be next.
Governor Nyesom Wike who addressed Rivers people after the incident in Abua/Odual had wondered where the next attack will be.
He may have been referring to his state when he made those comments, but with what has happened in Akwa Ibom, there is indeed need for the people of the South South to worry.
In the sixties, the people of the South South were engaged primarily in an agitation for the creation of states out of what was then the Eastern and Western Regions.
While the struggle for the creation of the Midwest Region saw the daylight before the outbreak of the Civil War in 1967, a corresponding request for the creation of the COR Region was still in the mill before the Nigerian Military carved out 12 states.
So far, information filtering out do not suggest that Niger Delta militants are involved in ongoing efforts to undermine the sovereignty of the country.
Port Harcourt Telegraph checks show that militants in the South South who have since submitted to an amnesty deal with the federal authorities are staying away from a budding conflict that is engulfing the entire nation.
Their posture may reflect the general mood in the region which appears for now, undecided over what line to tow in these troubled times.
An ex-militant who spoke under conditions of anonymity told this publication, “Our actions in the past were based on basic principles and interests. We are not involved in what is presently going on.”
“There have been attempts to draw us into the fray by groups that are seeking certain alignments, but the general feeling among top militants in the South South is that we will not support anything which does not leave the South South intact.
“The South South could be a country of its own. We have no interest in a Biafran demand as a bloc. I think it is important to stress this point.
“Some of us may have opened discussions with some of these elements that are running around with weapons.
“While we respect their inclination to bear arms, the rights of some of our people to engage with them, the position to collaborate if any, does not reflect the thinking of our people or the position of intellectual militants in the region”, the ex – militant leader opined.
Asked what he meant by intellectual militants, he said, “these are Niger Deltans with cerebral minds. They belong to different persuasions, they do not carry weapons, but they believe in our cause, the cause of the region.”
According to DAILY POST armed men who are alleged to be members of Eastern Security Network, ESN, had attacked a police station at Ibiaku Ntok Okpo in Ikono Local Government area of Akwa Ibom State.
Two police officers were killed and five police vehicles set ablaze.
The attack came in the wake of an earlier one on Tuesday, when the gunmen stormed Ika police station and killed a female officer.
The name of the deceased was given as Esther Akpan. Also killed was Isonuyo Paul, a policeman who was going home in a Volvo car.
In the meantime, Biafra Nations League, BNL, is disclaiming reports that hoodlums who attacked a police station and hoisted their flag at Ikono LGA of Akwa Ibom State were members of the Eastern Security Network, ESN
“Those who carried out the attack are no doubt sympathizers of the Biafran struggle from the State”, the BNL noted.
According to the secessionist group, the attackers are “supporters [of Biafra] trying to enforce the hoisting of flag strategy which [we] have been threatening to carry out.”
Somehow, a feeling that there are some people who are trying to take advantage of the situation in the country to stir crisis in the South South and the South East exists.
Henry Edet, Chief Head of Operations of BNL is quoted by the DAILY POST as saying, “some unknown gunmen are being sponsored by politicians to destabilize the South East and South South, and they do that in the name of Biafra.”
What is likely to be the reaction of the South South to ongoing efforts to drag it into a conflict it has no appetite for?
What does restructuring mean to the South South? What will be the aspiration of the South South if anything happens to Nigeria? Who has the right to set the South South agenda?
Many in the South South who are looking up to their leaders want these questions answered.
They hope that the South South would convoke a meeting that would address these issues, including the question of South South security which is under threat from unknown persons.
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