In the last 72 hours, reports emerged about the Nigerian army descending on Orlu, Imo, in an operation believed to stall the activities of the Eastern Security Network (ESN). The ESN are a security outfit in the Southeast similar to the Southwest’s Amotekun, but only that they are an offshoot of the separatist group he Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
The ESN have been at the center of the ethnic crisis in the state as they respond to the unbridled violent attacks by herdsmen. The Nigerian army were mostly spotted in the air, hovering in helicopters as seen in clips that circulated online. The operation, although not directly leading to attacks, had intimidated innocent and harmless residents who were just minding their business. It’s worth mentioning that this is happening in Eastern Nigeria, a region brutalised and traumatised by the Civil War of the 60’s where the army bombarded with airstrikes.
The army surveillance in Orlu is from the the government’s intimidation playbook, using state security apparatus to do its bidding. We saw this at last week’s #OccupyLekki protests where the police and army were geared up to resist legitimate demonstrations, wielding guns and throwing peaceful protesters into Black Marias. Why is always against harmless citizens that the government shows its might?
The Northeast has been blighted with insurgency and banditry for years, leading to loss of lives and livelihoods and although there have been small wins, terrorism is yet to be eradicated in the region. Circling back to the herdsmen, the government is yet to tackle their encroachment in some states and the violence they leave in their wake. The army was in Orlu as a flex of power and, if anything, it has further deepened the mistrust between the government and people.
When Bernard Dayo isn’t writing about pop culture, he’s watching horror movies and reading comics and trying to pretend his addiction to Netflix isn’t a serious condition.