ADF PRESS STATEMENT
By Alaigbo Development Foundation
Addressed by Barr. Max Ozoaka,
Co-ordinator, ADF Legal Bureau
On 6th February, 2020.
MEETING SECURITY CHALLENGES FACING NDIGBO IN THEIR HOME LAND
Security Is the joint Responsibility of the People and their Government!
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I hereby welcome you to this Press Briefing in my capacity as the Coordinator of the Legal Bureau of the Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF). The Bureau is currently charged with supervising the input and measures which the ADF is currently advancing in the on-going efforts to ensure the Security of our people and our neighbors.
We like to begin by emphasizing some fundamental facts about the on-going security crises in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The situation in Nigeria today is one of the worst security crises in human history. For us in Alaigbo, the situation is more critical than the one we faced during the Biafra war.
There does not seem to be anyone in charge to whom the people can look up to for their protection or the Government in power is in collusion with the forces responsible for the state of generalized anarchy in the land.
The people must take full responsibility for the protection of themselves, their families and their property.
We must stop mystifying the issue of security as if when the enemy attacks us and our families, when he goes into our farm to destroy our crops, or forcefully enters our home s to seize the little foods we have for our children, we must do nothing but sit down until Buhari or any Federal or State Authority comes to our rescue.
Indeed, the Security of any man is first and foremost his personal responsibility.
The role of Government on matters of security of the lives and property of the people is crucial but only second to the efforts of the individual citizen who are direct victims.
It is true that one of the major reasons for the establishment of Government by man is to ensure his security and that of his family.
However, this does not in any way remove the citizen’s personal responsibility in matters of his own security and that of his family.
There are layers of responsibility over the security of every man – from the family, kindred, village to the Clan, and, ipso facto, from the Local Government to the State, the entire country and indeed to the Global Community. Thus, every tier of society has a role to play in matters of security of lives and property of the people.
It is in this sense that the Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF) emphasizes the fact that – SECURITY IS THE JOINT RESPONSIBILITY OF THE PEOPLE AND THE GOVERNMENT.
In the light of these truths the Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF) categorically declares –
That every citizen has a duty and a right to carry defensive weapons for the protection of himself, his family and his property including his farmlands and ancestral homes.
The Government should legalize private ownership and possession of defensive weapons.
Anti-Grazing Law should be enacted by the State Houses of Assembly, This is very urgent!
Communities Vigilantes should be fully legalized and provided with adequate security equipment.
The idea of State Police is fully supported by ADF provided that it is fully under the control of respective States Government.
We, in the entire Igbo nation, should not mystify issues concerning the Security of our People and our Ancestral Communities!
There is no mystery in the Security Measures being taken by our neighbors – the Yoruba in South West Nigeria, the Tiv in Benue State, the Junkun in Taraba, the Edo People, etc, to protect themselves (their men, women and children) and their Ancestral lands.
What they have done is to exercise their fundamental right to Self-Defense, a right which we ourselves have been trying to exercise BUT now need to assert in more positive and non-ambiguous terms.
The Yoruba nation first established the needed Security structures.
And now the various states within the Yoruba nation are enacting the relevant laws to back those security measures taken earlier.
With this step, all ambiguities in the earlier steps they took have been taken care of and thus challenges to their right to exercise Self-Defense has been neutralized.
The Benue State first established the enabling laws for their security;
And then the requisite structures and instruments followed.
And no one can rationally and politically challenge what they have done and are doing to protect their people and their land.
Within the Igbo nation, we are aware of some measures which some of our Governors are taking with regard to our security.
Apart from certain basic inadequacies, what those security initiatives lack is the backing of the popular will and support of our people. They also lack enabling laws to back them up.
DRAFT ANTI-OPEN GRAZING BILL BY THE ADF
In 2016, the Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF), in anticipation of this crises and following consultations with some of our respectable stakeholders submitted a Draft Anti-Open Grazing Bill to all the Seven (7) States in Igbo-Speaking Areas. Information we have is that only Abia House of Assembly passed the Bill but it is yet to be signed into law by the Governor.
That initiative of ADF was sequel to her earlier intervention in both the Senate and the Federal House of Representatives, challenging the RUGA, CATTLE COLONY AND GRAZING ROUTES as was then proposed by the Federal Government. Those programs eventually have been rejected by majority of the various states and nationalities within the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Why is the Grazing of Cattle an issue and core one for that matter which affects the Security of lives and property in the Federal Republic of Nigeria today?
Those who emphasize what they call herders-farmers clash as a major root-cause of the present bloody Security situation in Alaigbo and other parts of the Federation are right in a sense. The free roaming and grazing of cattle that lawlessly destroy the crops of helpless farmers is the major root cause of the problem.
What is more, criminals from West African and other countries have taken advantage of this situation to invade our communities, wrecking all manner of havoc, killing, maiming, kidnapping our innocent citizens, raping our wives, sisters and daughters with reckless abandon and mindless impunity. Our President, General Mohammad Buhari has himself publicly confessed that many of these criminals come from Libya.
The most common identity of these criminals is that they hide under the movement of cattle. Therefore, commonsensically, the first step in tackling the Security challenges, is to control the free movement and grazing of Cattle.
We are not saying that nobody should rear cattle. All we are saying is that open grazing of cattle is bad for our Security and bad for our economy and our survival.
Therefore, the law banning open grazing of cattle, goat and sheep must now be enacted for the above reasons.
WHAT IS TO BE DONE AND DONE URGENTLY?
IGBO NATIONAL CAUCUS TO ASSERT OUR COLLECTIVE RESOLVE AND OUR SUPPORT FOR OUR GOVERNMENTS TO ENACT THE ANTI-OPEN GRAZING LAW AND PUT IN PLACE ALL NECESSARY MEASURES TO ENFORCE THE LAW.
We, the undersigned are calling for an URGENT IGBO NATIONAL CAUCUS involving the people and our Governments to give popular backing to the necessary adequate Security arrangements for our collective action.
What do we have on Ground?
We have our Ancestral customary Laws which prohibit the roaming of GOATS, SHEEP, COWS, CATTLE, in our communities and farms.
We have Old Eastern Nigeria Law which prohibits the roaming of animals within the community. Such animals are teetered to avoid the destruction of farm lands arising from freely roaming within the community.
In most of our ancestral communities, women organize themselves and provide schedules for various groups of women to operate on assigned days, to monitor, arrest offending animals and hand them over to community leaders. The owners of such animals must pay approved fines before they can reclaim their animals.
All Governments in Alaigbo are called upon to Urgently enact the Anti-Open Grazing Law and provide all necessary measures to ensure the security of lives and property in our Region!
ROLE OF COMMUNITY VIGILANTE GROUPS.
Today, virtually all communities have their VIGILANTE (Local Security Watch), Therefore, every community should be encouraged to set up their Community Vigilante. State Houses of Assembly and Governors should quickly enact enabling Laws to back such measures. The State Governments and the various communities must provide the needed resources for their effective operation.
Security is the joint Responsibility of the People and their Government!