Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State has announced the suspension of Ebubeagu South-East Security Outfit and setting up of two new vigilante outfits to replace it. The two new outfits are Ebonyi State Neighbourhood Watch and Ebonyi State Vigilante Corps.
This followed the passage of a new law setting up the two outfits by the State House of Assembly and signing of same into law by the Governor. The governor said the decision is in obedience to the High Court ruling which ordered the disbandment of Ebubeagu in the State. Umahi stated this during an expanded State Security Council meeting in Abakaliki, capital of the state.
“I have directed that Ebubeagu will not function in the State until the stay of Execution is granted and appeal is entered, this is in obedience to the rule of law and respect for our Judiciary which I have great respect for, whether the judgment is good for our people or bad, it is the judgment of the Court,” Umahi informed the council. He however noted that another Court of coordinate jurisdiction had earlier passed a judgment restraining anybody from disbanding Ebubeagu.
“What it means is that I have two judgments on the same subject and I could choose the one to obey if I were not a lover of the Judiciary, however, I have decided to obey the later judgment that says that Ebubeagu should not function, so for now, Ebubeagu should not function while we process the stay of Execution and appeal entered at Enugu,” he said. Mr Umahi noted that Neighbourhood Watch will rely on the law passed since 2015 while the Vigilante Corps will rely on the new law passed by the House recently.
“Another vigilante that has come into effect is the Ebonyi State Vigilante Corps and this will also function in the State and I am hereby inaugurating these new outfits officially today and by the laws of the State they are empowered to function,” he said. The governor noted that over 30 personnel of Ebubeagu have been killed in the past one year while 23 of the personnel are facing prosecution for various infringements of the law.
He warned that disbandment of the vigilante services could have dire consequences for the state as it has the lowest number of police personnel among the states of the federation.
“For those who would like to care, they must know that Ebubeagu was not formed from outside our society, there are also infringements from other citizens of Nigeria, other security Agencies and such are being addressed.” “Ebubeagu matter is not an exception but what is very important to note is that the Governor of Ebonyi State or any of my officials will never direct any of the personnel of Ebubeagu or any of the new outfits to go and disrupt the lawful activities of any of the political parties or the right of any individual,” the governor said.
The governor condemned those who protested against the disbandment of the security outfit in front of the court in Abakaliki. “I condemn the protest vehemently and I have directed the Commissioner of Police to ensure that anyone who tries that again will be arrested, even though people have the right to peaceful protest but because of the respect I have for the Judiciary, they must not go to do such protest at the gate of the Judiciary and in fact they should not attempt to do that”
“The judgment of the Court remains the judgment of the Court and this is the Court of first instance, we still have the appeal Court and we still have the Supreme Court to be used to address any envisaged injustice,” he added.