Umahi inaugurates two vigilante groups in place of Ebubeagu



Uba Group

Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State has inaugurated two vigilante groups to complement the efforts of security agencies in protecting the lives and property of the residents of the state.

The two vigilante groups, according to the Governor, are Neighborhood Watch and Ebonyi State Vigilante Corps.

The formation of the two vigilance groups comes three days after the Federal High Court, Abakaliki, presided over by Justice Fatun Riman, disbanded Ebubeagu, on the ground that its establishment was illegal.

Justice Riman had in the ruling on Tuesday, February 14, 2023, ordered the Police and the Department of State Security to arrest and prosecute anyone found bearing arms in the name of Ebubeagu Security outfit in the state.

But Umahi who reacted on the matter on Friday during a broadcast to the people of Ebonyi State on the issues of peace and security in the state, said the state would obey the judgement of the court, until the judgement is vacated at the Appeal Court.

He said the law empowering the two vigilance groups to operate had been passed into law by the State Assembly.

Umahi said “On the issue of Ebubeagu, 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 judgement is good for our people or bad, it is the judgement of the court, however, it must be noted that just about a month ago, another court of equal jurisdiction had passed a judgement restraining anybody from disbanding Ebubeagu, what it means is that I have two judgements 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 latter judgement 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 and Ebubeagu when granted will begin to function again.

“However, let me thank the House of Assembly for passing into law another two sets of vigilante outfits for Ebonyi State which started in 2021 but they graciously passed it a few days ago and that is Ebonyi State Neighborhood Watch. Let me say that we have had this Neighbourhood Watch even before now far back as 2015 and they did tremendously very well so the law is back and they are empowered to function. 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.”

While lamenting that over 30 Ebubeagu security operatives had been killed in the last one year, Governor Umahi urged the new vigilance groups not to infringe on the rights of anybody.

“These two vigilante outfits, my directive is that they must not infringe on the rights of anybody, it is important to note that over 30 Ebubeagu personnel have been killed in the last one year, the latest was the killing of the pregnant wife of the Ebubeagu Commander for doing nothing and as we talk now 23 Ebubeagu people are in court, some are also in prison for infringement on the laws establishing Ebubeagu.

“So, for those who would like to care, they must know that Ebubeagu was not formed from outside our society, there are also infringement 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 never and will not, nor any of my officials 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, so those who have been clamouring to disband Ebubeagu must know that there are consequences.”

Governor Umahi also condemned the recent protest by some youths against the judgement which disbanded Ebubeagu Security outfit.

He said “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 judgement of the court remains the judgement 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.”