Boko Haram Suspects And South-East Governors

Governors from the South East axis of the Country met in Owerri, Imo State capital recently, where they condemned and rejected the alleged relocation of Boko Haram suspects to prison facilities in the area.
The Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, had, at the end of the governors’ meeting, told Journalists that they rubbed minds on the likely outcome of the relocation of Boko Haram detainees and agreed that it was not in the best interest of the zone.
While reasoning that even if Federal Government’s decision to transfer the suspects to that area might not be devoid of security undertone, Governor Okorocha said the development has a far-reaching effect on the psyche of the people in the zone.
The governors, who were unanimous in their decision, were reported to have appealed to the Federal Government to have a rethink and possibly send the suspects back to Abuja where Nigeria has enough security.
It would be recalled that some weeks ago, the news of the relocation of Boko Haram detainees to the prison facility in Ekwulobia in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State made the rounds and no sooner people got wind of it than it triggered chains of protests across the state. All commercial activities in Anambra State came to a halt. Unionists, drivers and other concerned persons were not left out of the protest.
Coincidentally, the protesters’ message tallied with that of the South- East Governors. They agreed that the Federal Government has the power to detain suspects in any of its prisons, irrespective of where the offence was committed but that in this case, it is something unique, considering the monstrous activities of members of Boko Haram and porosity of security even in prisons.
One Chris Ogbonna, State Vice-Chairman, Trade Union Congress (TUC), presented the feelings of his people this way: “As much as we know that the Federal Government has the right to take anybody, any criminal to any prison in the country, in this particular case, it is frightening. People are jittery everywhere, no Nigerian citizens will be comfortable having Boko Haram insurgents near them, South-East is a peculiar case”.
Looking at the nefarious exploits and heinous activities of Boko Haram, it is glaring that most of the time, they confronted no barrier in hitting at their targets, be it police or prison formations, bringing sorrows and pains to the people in such areas. It is on record that some of these security stations where overtaken with ease by these insurgents.
Moreover, anywhere the insurgents are placed in confinement whenever there is an invasion, the people of that area suffer the pains.
It is, therefore, on this premise that we join the South East Governors and other concerned persons in calling on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency rescind its decision to dump Boko Haram suspects in any prison in the area as well as in prisons in the neighboring states.
We know that the Federal Government is vested with the power to detain suspects in any of its locations outside the Federal Capital, we, however, call on it to be careful in the exercise of such right so that it will not constitute danger to the people of that zone, who hitherto had been living in peace.
Since the people of Anambra State received the information about the presence of insurgents in Ekwulobia prison, they have been fleeing the area for fear of the unknown and possible military molestation. We are worried because we do not see how much their transfer to Anambra State will assist in solving the problem of insurgency in the country. Instead, the transfer of such detainees to other zones could cause the spread of insurgency across the country.
Also, our worries become more intense when we consider the magnitude of harm the Federal Government action has inflicted on the economy of the people who have closed down their businesses for weeks in a protest against the Federal Government’s action.
We are aware that some civil groups have dragged the Federal Government to court, calling for reversal of its decision which has also attracted condemnation from religious bodies. It will be good, therefore, for the Federal Government to reconsider its stand by sending the detainees to where it has formidable security to contend with any eventuality”.