From Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri

Imo State Governor Hope Uzodinma says that the Eastern Security Network (ESN), the regional security outfit of Igbo separatist group Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), was the brainchild of South-East governors but was hijacked by the group.

Governor Uzodinma, who made the assertion at the weekend while interacting with members of the Correspondents Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Owerri, said that the governors abandoned their plan of using the name “Eastern Security Network” when it was appropriated by the IPOB.

The governor revealed that South-East governors plan to hold a summit in Owerri to discuss setting up another security outfit for the region.

The summit, the governor said, will assess the security situation in the region and determine the best solution to tackle it.

Governor Uzodinma, who admitted that pressure is being mounted on regional governors to launch a veritable security outfit for the zone, vowed that the new security outfit would be different from others when introduced.

‘In the next couple of weeks, governors of the South-East will hold a security summit in Owerri with a view to fashioning out modalities for setting up a security outfit for our region. We will hold an elaborate discussion with a view to finding a lasting solution and to complement the work of security agents in the country,’ the governor stated.

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‘It’s necessary for every zone to be vigilant and have a security outfit, especially with the present situation we have in this country. We cannot lose fate with the management of security in our region and at the same time, we must be careful in the way we go about it.

‘South-East governors tried to set up the Eastern Security Network by working with Ohanaeze Ndigbo. The attorneys-general of the five southeastern states had already anchored a report on it, and before we knew it IPOB hijacked the name and started using it to commit crime.

‘That arrangement has not stopped. We are trying to take a review. We will come up with an outfit that will be lasting. We don’t want to do things because others have done it or be copy cats. There are permutations and we must defend our people and ensure that there is no external aggression.

‘It’s not the failure of government because the primary responsibility of government is to protect the lives and property of the people.’

Speaking on state properties misappropriated by previous administrations, Governor Uzodinma expressed confidence that justice would be done and all stolen properties recovered.

He dismissed the claim made by the former governor of the state, Senator Rochas Okorocha, that allegations of recovering properties allegedly misappropriated by his administration are a witch-hunt, stressing that the panel of recovery of public property did a diligent job by investigating widely.

He added that Eastern Palm University has been gazetted while government will soon gazette its finding on the report of the commission of inquiry on lands and related matters.