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  • News - North Central - Benue
  • Updated: March 30, 2021

FACT CHECK: No Evidence Biafra Secessionist Movement-Affiliated Eastern Security Network Captured Notorious Fulani Bandits’ Leader in Benue

FACT CHECK: No Evidence Biafra Secessionist Movement-Affilia

On Monday, 8 March 2021, the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)-linked Eastern Security Network (ESN) militia claimed in a Press Release assented to by its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, that its members have captured a notorious leader of a gang of Fulani bandits, identified as Mohammed Isa.

According to Kanu, Isa and his squad had been attacking peaceful communities in Benue State, Northcentral Nigeria and its environs.

Some major Nigerian online newspapers reported the news.

In the release, Kanu, a Biafra political activist based outside Nigeria, commended the ESN operatives for their perceived success.

Worthy of note is that the ESN had been rejected by Southeast governors in Nigeria, as Dave Umahi, the Chairman of South Governor’s Forum and Governor of Ebonyi state, said in December 2020 that it is needless creating the security outfit.

"I want to commend men and women of the Northern Command of the Eastern Security Network (ESN) for the successful capture of Mohammed Isa, the notorious leader of Fulani bandits and killers in the Lower Benue. 

"This individual and his gang of murderers have been terrorising peaceful farming communities in Benue and nearby states,” Kanu had said.

But was any notorious bandit, Mohammed Isa, truly captured? AllNews probes.

Who are ESN?

On 12, December 2020, Kanu, from his base abroad, announced the formation of the ESN, under his command.

Kanu's IPOB had stressed that the decision was out of his passion to efficiently secure the South-South and South-Eastern regions of Nigeria.

"What we are launching today is 'Eastern Security Network' not Biafra army," Kanu had said in an online broadcast.

IPOB berated Eastern governors for not doing enough to safeguard lives and properties and likened the ESN to the Western Nigeria Security Network codenamed Operation Amotekun.

Who are IPOB?

Led by a controversial figure, Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB is agitating for the secession of the Igbo from Nigeria, decades after late Odumegwu Ojukwu first mobilised the nationalist aspirations of the ethnic group to break away, resulting in a 30-month civil war (1967-1970) that led to the death of hundreds.

With years of bad governance and the Nigerian government’s failure to address the challenge of national integration, secessionist agitations were reawakened by Ipob, leveraging on the masses' anger against the state.

In 2017, Nigeria proscribed IPOB and declared it a terrorist organisation amid a major standoff with the army in Abia State, the home state of Kanu.

The group has rejected being labelled a terrorist organisation saying its actions and demand for secession are peaceful. But it recently established ESN, which it said would protect the Igboland “against Fulani herders," albeit met with resistance by Nigerian authorities.

Does Fulani bandit by the name, Mohammed Isa, exist in Benue State?

Kanu and IPOB provided no pictorial evidence, nor gave an account of how the supposed capture took place.

IPOB, since the creation of ESN, has always stormed the internet with pictures and videos of its presumed achievements. AllNews fact-checked several of these reports and found many to be misleading.

But this time around, IPOB/ESN didn't show off a picture or clip of their 'successful operation'.

Meanwhile, prior to ESN’s announcement on Monday, 8 March 2021, there is no information in the public domain about any bandits leader in the Benue axis named Mohammed Isa. Locals don't even know any suspected criminal by that name, according to security authorities and a reliable source who is based in that geo-political zone.
When this reporter reached out to the Police Public Relations Officer of Benue State Command, Catherine Anene, she said: “I have tried to confirm, but no one knows about it.”

READ ALSO: VIDEOS: How We Killed Soldiers, Police Officers – Youthful IPOB Member

“For now, I am not aware of any bandits leader by that name in Benue State,” she added.

Conclusion

A ‘bandit leader’, named Mohammed Isa in Benue State is nonexistent.

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