Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Anti-Ebubeage protest, Tuesday, broke out in Aba the commercial nerve centre of Abia State as thousands of Igbo youths took to the streets to protest the excesses of the operatives of the Ebubeagu regional security outfit.
The irate youths demanded the immediate resignation of Gov. Hope Uzodinma of Imo State who they accused of “using Ebubeagu as a militia group to eliminate perceived enemies.”
The protesters who came under the aegis of Coalition of South East Youth Leaders, COSEYL, said they were protesting what they called the over-zealousness of the Ebubeagu in extrajudicial killing of innocent Igbo youths, and its inefficiency in confronting “real bandits” suspected to be Fulani herdsmen rampaging most communities in South-East.
This is coming two days after bandits numbering over 30 blocked the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway around Leru/Ihube Okigwe axis at the border between Abia and Imo, and reportedly abducted the entire occupants of three passenger buses.
The protesters demanded to know why Ebubeagu is so weak in confronting criminal herdsmen behind many atrocities including rape and kidnappings for ransom in the zone.
About 14 youths returning from a wedding reception in Imo State, were reportedly killed by Ebubeagu security operatives penultimate week.
The Irate youths marched through major streets in Aba including Faulks Road, Okigwe Road and Azikiwe Road chanting war songs.
They carried placards with various inscriptions such as: “We Don’t Want Ebubeagu in South-East”; “It is Now a Crime to Be a Youth in Imo State;” “Hope Uzodinma Should Resign Immediately For Killing 21 Igbo Youths With Ebubeagu;” “Ebubeagu Must Go;” “Ebubeagu is a Curse;” “Hope Uzodinma Must Resign;” among others.
Later in an interview with Ikengaonline, President General of Coalition of South East Youth Leaders, COSEYL, Comrade Goodluck Ibem, accused South-East Governors where Ebubeagu has been launched of using the outfit against Igbo youths.
He said the protest would be taken to other states of the South-East “until Ebubeagu is disbanded.”
He also vowed that the protest would be sustained until “Gov. Hope Uzodinma of Imo State resigns for allegedly “using Ebubeagu to waste 21 innocent Imo youths and tagged them ESN operatives.”
According to him: “COSEYL is protesting against the Ebubeagu security outfit in Aba, Abia State which is used by some South-East Governors to kill our youths in their prime while leaving the real Fulani terrorists and Jihadists to be moving freely in our forests and bushes kidnapping our people, raping our women and killing our people at will.
“The Enugu – Port Harcourt expressway mainly the boundary between Abia and Imo state has been taken over by Fulani terrorists and kidnappers who kidnap our people on daily basis and nothing serious has been done to arrest these criminals committing such atrocities on Igbo soil.
“Ebubeagu killed 21 innocent youths returning from a traditional marriage in Awo Omamma village in Oru East Local Government Area of Imo State accusing them of being bandits whereas the real criminals who are the Fulani Jihadists and terrorists are left unchecked in the zone.
“It is now a crime to be a youth in Imo State as our youths are now killed at random.
“We are taking the protest to Imo State after Aba because Governor Hope Uzodinma has committed so much crime against humanity with Ebubeagu security outfit.
“Over 25,000 innocent youths have been secretly killed by Ebubeagu security outfit and other security operatives under his watch. After Imo State we will proceed to Enugu and Ebonyi States respectively.
“Some of the Igbo youths were Killed for gallantry on Igbo soil and said enough is enough! We are not stopping the protest until our demands are met . Forward ever and backward never. Enough said!”
COSEYL expressed disappointment at the attitude of the present crop of South-East Governors and the political elite, accusing them of showing no concern over the plights of the people.
He warned them to either stand with the people or brace up for the wrath of Igbo youths as the youths are determined to take their destiny in their hands.
According to him, Igbo youths have risen and will not retreat until Igboland is sanitised.