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Eastern Security Network

The Indigenous People of Biafra formed the ESN (Eastern Security Network) in December 2020, as a reaction to the Igbo’s perception that they are targeted by Muslim Fulani herders, whom they accuse of grazing on farmlands and committing crimes against local residents. The movement then morphed into a paramilitary unit with broader functions.

The Nigerian government saw the ESN as a threat to its authority and deployed the army to locate and destroy ESN bases. In January 2021, intense fighting broke out in the town of Orlu, in Imo State. The military confrontation lasted for seven days, until ESN declared a unilateral ceasefire and both sides withdrew from the city.

Shortly after the Orlu Crisis, IPOB gave all the governors of southeast Nigeria 14 days to ban open grazing, threatening to deploy the ESN to enforce a ban if the authorities did not do so. However, the ESN did not wait 14 days; a few days later, ESN operatives attacked a Fulani camp in IsuikwuatoAbia State, killing their livestock and burning down their houses. Following the raid, some governors responded by heeding the ESN’s call and banning open grazing.

IPOB accused the Nigerian Army of working in collaboration with the governor of Imo state to continue the harassment and intimidation of civilians in Orlu and environs, especially the arrest of a Rabbi and his family members, whom it was reported were being tortured. Beginning from 15th February there were reports of the Nigerian army sending reinforcements to Orlu. On the 18th of February 2021 Nigeria Military launched an airstrike in Orlu, Imo state; the IPOB issued a swift statement through its State Directorate asserting that “they have finally brought the war upon the Biafran people.

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