He was reacting to a motion by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) House of Representatives lawmakers from the state on the floor of the House on Thursday, wherein they accused the State Government of arming the Ebubeagu security outfit and using it for various extra-judicial and illegal operations in the state.
The motion was moved by Idu Igariwey representing (Afikpo North/Afikpo South) federal constituency and supported by four other PDP lawmakers from the state. They are Livinus Makwe (Ohaozara, Ivo, Onicha), Sylvester Ogbaga (Abakaliki/Izzi), Chukwuma Nwazunku (Ebonyi/Ohaukwu) and Edwin Nwonu (Ezza North/Ishielu).
The lawmakers also alleged that the security outfit is being used to hound, intimidate and even eliminate opposition party members in the state.
According to them, the group is being used to hunt one Linus Okorie, a former member of the House down in the state.
But Eni, who is the Chairman of Afikpo South Local Government Area, debunked the allegations. He noted that the motion by the five PDP Lawmakers from the state is informed by destructive opposition politicking.
According to him, “This infamous quintet have never sponsored any meaningful bill or participated in any worthwhile debate on the floor of the House, only to wake up from their inactivity to attempt setting fire on the security infrastructure of Ebonyi State in a bid to play the script authored in Lagos to sabotage the political standing of Engr. Dr. David Umahi.
“It is unfortunate that the PDP National Assembly members of Ebonyi State extraction have chosen to play politics with the efforts of the State Government to curb insecurity bordering on communal clashes, farmers/herdsmen clashes, kidnapping and other violent crimes in Ebonyi State, by criticising ‘Ebubeagu’, the State Vigilante Outfit.
“Ebubeagu is a creation of an existing law duly passed by the Ebonyi State House of Assembly and its mandate of complementing the Nigeria Police Force and other law enforcement agencies in securing lives and properties are well spelt out in the enabling law.”
Mr Eni said the lawmakers lied by alleging that operatives of Ebubeagu are not professionally trained and wield AK 47 and AK 49 rifles alongside other dangerous weapons.
“The truth,” he said, “is that the vigilante group underwent diligent training in the use of arms which in all cases are limited to duly authorised pump action rifles.
“The group does not have any detention facility as it hands over any person suspected of committing an offence to the nearest police man or police station for investigation,” he added.
The Council Boss noted that Ebubeagu is an answer to the insecurity question in the South East and neither indulges in torture nor other illegal activities as alleged by the lawmakers.
“If there is any substance in the litany of allegations catalogued by Igariwey and his fellow misrepresentatives, one would expect them to make formal complaints to the police or even to the DSS against the suspects involved, rather than pushing for the proscription of a group which is part of the solution to the rife insecurity in different parts of Nigeria.”
He noted that on the contrary, the security outfit has been under attack by hoodlums supported by opposing political elements leading to loss of lives of at least seven Ebubeagu operatives in recent times.
“Why did Iduma not mention it in the House? Why are they not complaining of lack of AK-47 and AK-49 licenses for Bandits, Anarchists and other Violent Criminals who are on the prowl.
“State vigilante has become a convention in Nigeria and discerning leaders have continued to support them to achieve their mandate of complementing police efforts in securing the people.
“We have ‘Amotekun’ in all the States of the South West Region and ‘Hisbah’ Police in the North and yet, resourceful National Assembly members from these states have never raised questions about the legitimacy, activities and modus operandi of these vigilante groups.
“Why are Igariwey and co against Ebubeagu? What are they hiding? They should come clean because only the guilty are afraid,” Eni said.
He declared that “anybody antagonizing Ebubeagu must have a skeleton in his cupboard because an Ebonyi State without Ebubeagu will be a dystopia where only gunmen and their sponsors will survive.”
Ebubeagu security outfit was formed last year by governors of the southeast to help security agencies curtail the rising insecurity in the region.
The Ebonyi chapter was inaugurated by Governor David Umahi in December last year even though it has been in operation for some months before the inauguration.
It was established after the state House of Assembly passed a law to that effect which was assented to by the governor.