Editor's note: In this piece, Henry Nnanna Okeke writes on the need for southeast governors to adopt "Enugu forest guards" model for regional security.
According to Okeke, the time has come for governors of the region to take a concrete step in safeguarding the lives and property of the people of eastern states by creating their own version of Amotekun
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The question is "Should the southeast not have Southeast Forest Guards Network or "Amaefula" Operation?
Security and Welfare of the people remains the primary purpose of Government as enshrined in section 14(2) of the 1999 Constitution. Primarily, this means that the security and welfare of the people is at the centre of the entire concept of government.
In a bid to unanimously combat Insecurity in the region, the southwest states of Nigeria officially launched a security formation code-named "Operation Amotekun" on January 9th, 2020.
Amotekun operation as a child of necessity is a regional effort birthed to assist the conventional police force in crime control and prevention.
Legally, Amotekun operation is a larger scale compliance to section 20 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015. According to section 20 ACJA, "A private person may arrest a suspect in Nigeria who in his presence commits an offence, or whom he reasonably suspects of having committed an offence for which the police is entitled to arrest without a warrant."
Therefore, the Western Nigeria Security Network (WNSN) otherwise know as “Amotekun” is a lawful innovation by the Governors Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo) Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Gboyega Oyetola (Osun), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos) , Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti) and Dapo Abiodun (Ogun).
Enugu Forest Guards
Enugu State Government under the able leadership of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has demonstrated absolute commitment towards security, safety and welfare of the people. Evidently, the Governor of Enugu State understands the primary purpose of government when he boldly introduced and adequately funded the Enugu State Forest Guards and other security approaches that have brought tremendous security confidence to Enugu State residents and her visitors.
The Forest Guards initiative of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi administration is the first of its kind in Nigeria. Through a transparent recruitment process by the DSS, adequate funding by the Governor, operational formation and synergy with the Police, Air Force and other security agencies, the Enugu State Forest Guards initiative is today a success story worthy of emulation.
Southeast states' collaboration
Although the governors of the southeast have met severally at the Enugu Government House to chat a road map for security of the region, there is now need for "walking the talk".
The peculiar forestation of the South East States ordinarily calls for regional security efforts. A careful study of the region and her security issues have revealed that the forests have routes to and fro each State. For instance, local hunters in the olden days could move from Awgu forest in Enugu State to Okigwe forest in Imo State within hours. Oji River forest in Enugu State has a route to and fro Awka forest in Anambra state. From Amechi Idodo - Nkalagu Forest is connecting Ebonyi and Enugu State. The proximity of our forests and the mode of operations of criminal elements in the region obviously requires a holistic adoption of the Enugu State Forest Guards model.
Call it South East Forest Guards or " Operation Amaefula", a regional effort to secure our people and their farmland is highly recommended at this juncture. This is more so when we consider the fact that criminal elements in the southwest forests will certainly relocate to safer forests as Amotekun Operation kicks off in essence.
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Therefore, this is a clarion call for the people and government of southeast states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, and Imo state to urgently adopt and expand the Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi's already successful Forest Guards initiative for maximum security of the southeast region. This is imperative in view of the likelihood of metamorphosis of our current federal police to state/regional police. The South West is deliberately prepared for the restructuring of our national security apparatus hence the birth of Western Nigeria Security Network (WNSN) otherwise known as "Amotekun Operation".
The question remains, should the southeast not have Southeast Forest Guards Network otherwise known as "Amaefula" Operation?
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