David Umahi, Governor of Ebonyi has declared his intention to negotiate with bandits to ascertain their grievances and the way forward.
Umahi made the declaration on Friday in Abakaliki at the presentation of 40 Toyota Sienna vehicles and 20 Hilux vans to security agencies for enhanced operations in the state.
The governor directed local government chairmen and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to identify the bandits and present them for debriefing.
“I won’t talk to the bandits and empower them as we cannot continue to kill ourselves and destroy public infrastructure.
“The bandits are our children and I am pained when they or the security agencies are killed.
“I want to ascertain their grievances against the Ebonyi or federal government, collate the facts for discussions to commence,” he said.
He expressed disappointment over the announcement of guidelines for the 2023 elections, noting that the nation was at a crossroads for such engagement.
“Let us forget about the 2023 elections with the leaders taking responsibility for the situation and discussing a way forward.
“No one takes money to the grave and when we hear a gunshot, we will run and abandon the money we amassed.
“This is not a period to discuss political parties but ensure that the resources of this nation which can truly transform it is judiciously utilised,” he said.
Umahi debunked the insinuation that members of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) or Eastern Security Network (ESN) were after him, insisting that he has discharged his duties to the people.
This insinuation is coming after Engr. Fidelis Nweze, the Ebonyi State commissioner for Infrastructural development narrowly escaped a gun attack on Tuesday as he abandoned his car and ran into the bush leaving his SUV at the mercy of gunmen who shot sporadically in all directions.
The incident happened at the site of a proposed international airport in the State.
The gunmen were feared to have targeted the State Governor, Dave Umahi who was scheduled for an inspection visit to the airport.
The heavily armed men came on seven motorcycles and two vehicles.
“On getting to the site, they opened fire, but God averted their bullets from hitting the Commissioner for Infrastructure Development, Engr Fidelis Nweze, whom on suspecting the movement of the motorcycles, ran to the nearby bush and take cover, leaving behind his SUV Jeep.
“The gunmen then broke into the SUV and made away with the Commissioner’s laptop, architectural plan documents and money. They shot repeatedly on the air and took over the site for some time waiting for the arrival of the governor,” the source said.