Despite attacks on its operatives, the Eastern Security Network (ESN) continues to intensify the hunt for armed and violent Fulani cattle herders in the south-east and south-south, reports OAK METRO.
The non-state armed vigilante group which was established in December 2020 by Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), is highly regarded by farmers in the south-east who say the group has helped them return to farm after armed Fulani herdsmen forced them to give up farming in the region.
In Abia and Enugu, residents said ESN agents are still seen patrolling and searching the bushes.
“We see them in the bushes when we go to our farms,” said Ms. Amaka Nwankwo from Abia, who added that “sometimes dem dey stay with us until we have finished uprooting our cassava”.
Mr. Nduka Onwuegbu, who confirmed the presence of ESN in his community, told OAK METRO that the operatives helps their local vigilante arrest armed criminals disrupting peace the community.
“They are doing a good job here in my community,” said Onwuegbu.
Meanwhile, in Imo, Ebonyi and Anambra, ESN operatives operate mainly in the forests where they believe to be hideouts of Fulani terrorists.
“When I go bush to catch bushmeat for night, I dey see dem for duty. They no dey find innocent people trouble,” said Ezeakor, an Anambra hunter.
Residents of some communities in Delta and Rivers said they only saw ESN operatives when there was a distress call about the presence of violent Fulani herders.
Since January 2021, Nigerian forces have stepped up attacks against members of the vigilante group, whom they accuse of being responsible for attacks on police and other federal security agents.
IPOB has continued to deny any wrongdoing on the part of the ESN, stating that its duty is only to secure the farms, to drive out violent Fulani cattle herders and other criminals.