COALITION OF PAN-IGBO CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS

DISTRESS CALL
TO IGBO LEADERS, GOVERNMENTS AND STAKEHOLDERS ON
THE SECURITY OF ALAIGBO!

We, the undersigned representing various interests and organizations in Alaigbo, on behalf of Our People And Our Land, send you this Distress Message!

A. Our Ancestral Homes are under siege! Our Lives are being wasted! Alaigbo has been invaded! We must rise up and defend our Homeland!!
The situation in Nigeria today is one of the worst security challenges 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. Our land has been invaded!
We must stop mystifying the issue of security. 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, should we just sit there and do nothing? Should we fold our hands, sit there until General 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 personal 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 we the undersigned maintain that – SECURITY IS THE JOINT RESPONSIBILITY OF THE PEOPLE AND THE GOVERNMENT.

In the light of these truths that we categorically declare that –

We, in the entire Igbo nation, should not mystify issues concerning the Security of our People and our Ancestral Communities!
That Right of Self-Defense is inalienable and therefore –
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 recognize and hence legalize private ownership and possession of defensive weapons, particularly now there is a state of virtual anarchy in the land.
Anti-Open Grazing Law should be enacted by all the State Houses of Assembly in Alaigbo to enforce the protection of our farms and crops and prevent famine in our land.
Communities Vigilantes should be fully operational in all our communities, provided with legislative backing and thus provided with adequate system of weapon.
We fully support the idea of State Police, provided that such State Police is under the full control of respective zonal and State Governments.

B. We support the Bold Security Initiatives by our Neighbors in other parts of the Federation – the Yoruba, the Tiv, the Junkun, etc, to protect themselves and their Ancestral lands!
We, in the entire Igbo nation, should not mystify issues concerning the Security of our People and our Ancestral Communities! This is what the example of our neighbors teaches us. And we, therefore. fully support them.
Yes, there is no mystery in the Security Measures being taken by our neighbors – the Yoruba, 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 a 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 the later action, all ambiguities in the earlier steps they took have been taken care of and thus challenges to their right to exercise Self-Defense have been neutralized.

The Benue State first established the enabling laws for their security, and followed it up with needed structures and instruments to back the laws.
And no one can rationally, legally and politically challenge what they have done and are doing to protect their people and their land.
In all these, the People and their Governments have worked in tan dem! And therefore Ndigbo, we should learn from their examples.

Thus, from the experience of our Neighbor, it is imperative that Regional/State Governments (Governors and Houses of Assembly) need to do two basic things to secure our land and protect our people, namely –
Pass the enabling Security Law, particularly the Anti-Open Grazing Bill which have been submitted to them and
Set up and equip the necessary Security Structures including Community Vigilantes.
We also hereby call on all our various communities and citizens to support their local Vigilantes organizations with all that are needed to make them effectively functional.

C. To the State Governments in Alaigbo. Within the Igbo nation, we are aware of some measures being taken by some of our Governors 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.

We aware that a few of our State Legislatures have passed the Anti-Open Grazing Bill, awaiting signing by the Governors. We, therefore, urge the Governors to urgently do so if they have not already signed the bill into law. Other States are called upon to follow suite and enact the Anti-Open Grazing Bill.

D. Why the Anti-Open Grazing Bill?

i. Why is the unrestrained movement and open 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.
Ii. 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.
iii. The free roaming and grazing of cattle that lawlessly destroy the crops of helpless farmers is the major root cause of the problem.
iv. 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 and kidnapping our innocent citizens, rapping our wives and daughters with reckless abandon. And the Federal Government of Nigeria is hardly doing anything to protect the people.
v. The Nigerian President, General Mohammad Buhari, has himself publicly confessed that many of these criminals come from Libya. And so what?
vi. The most common identity of these criminals is that they hide under the movement of cattle. Therefore, 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.
E. What Is To Be Done And Done Urgently?
Urgent 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 and ensure our Security!
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 if allowed to roam freely 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 enforce the law and to ensure the security of lives and property in our Region!
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Role Of Community Vigilante Groups.
Today, virtually all communities have their VIGILANTE (Local Security Watch) either operational or in limbo, Therefore, every community should be encouraged to set up and energize 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.

Finally, we declare that Security Is the joint Responsibility of the People and their Government!

To our all people, Ndigbo,  we say unto you
“Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say, I am strong.” – Joel 3:10

Signed:
Prof. Uzodinma Nwala Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF).
Prof. Elochukwu Amuchazi Igbo Leaders of Thought (ILT)
Nze Fidelis Ozichukwu Igbon Town Unions (ITU)
His Grace Bar Chris Ede Christian Council of Nigeria, Enugu.rjt31z
Bishop Goddy Okafor Christian Council of Nigeria SE.
Mr Ngozi Odumuko Nzuko Umunna
Mr J. Ikunna Igbo Intelligentsia
Mr Tony Nnadi Lower Niger Congress (LNC)
Bar Emeka Umeagbalasi Inter-Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law
Bar Alloy Ejimakor Counsel for IPOB
Barr Max Ozoaka South-East Lawyers Forum
Engr Anthony Aniebue Peoples Restoration Movement (PRM)
Emeka Emekesiri MOBIN
Dr J. C. Chukuokolo South-East based Coalition of Human Rights and Democracy Organizations.(SBCHROS)
Ndubisi V. Anaenugwu BVI
Engr Ike Iwendu Assoc. of SE Presidents- General.
Mrs Maria Okwo Igbo Women Assembly (IWA)
Pastor Dr Okey Anoruo Assoc. of Imo Town Unions
Comr Uchenna Madu MASSOB
Mr Okey Orji Coalition of Pro-Biafra Organizations.
Ms Ola N. Uchendu Sons and Daughters of Alaigbo