Apex Igbo body, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has told the Federal Government that leaders of the South-East will no longer fold their hands while security agencies kill and incarcerate their youths. It charged the Federal Government to set up an independent judicial inquiry to look into the alleged killing of some members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) by security operatives in Port Harcourt.
Ohanaeze, in a statement by its President General, Chief John Nwodo, raised four issues, which the inquiry should determine. They are: Was the IPOB demonstration an unlawful assembly? Did IPOB require a police permit to demonstrate? Was IPOB violent in any manner that threatened public peace and order?
Does possession of Biafran flags and coat of arms per se constitute conspiracy to commit treasonable felony? A team of security operatives from the Nigerian Army and Police had clashed with members of the IPOB during the group’s solidarity rally in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital last Friday in solidarity with Donald Trump on his swearing-in as President of the United States. IPOB alleged that the security agents killed 11 of its members, injured 27 and arrested 57 others. It has threatened to take up arms if what it described as the continued killing of its unarmed and defenseless members continues.
The police, on its part, have charged 54 members of the group to two magistrates’ courts for conspiracy to commit treasonable felony and conducting themselves in a manner likely to force or compel the President to change his measures by displaying flags and other items of the Biafra Republic.
The Army has also, through its Public Relations Department, issued statements indicating that they are prepared to go to any length to ensure that the IPOB was contained. Nwodo said: “Given the serious national security implications of this development, Ohanaeze would like the Federal Government to appoint an independent judicial inquiry into the killing of IPOB and MASSOB members in Port Harcourt.
“We have just witnessed wanton massacres of Nigerians in Benue and Southern Kaduna without a single arrest or prosecution. Last year, several farmers were killed in Nimbo, Enugu State by herdsmen without any of those arrested prosecuted.
“After a Judicial Inquiry and findings on massacre of followers of Ibrahim El- Zakzaky in Kaduna State, no arrest or prosecution has been made. Where is consistency in the enforcement of the law? Does anyone truly expect Ndigbo to fold our arms and watch our children massacred and incarcerated with such impunity? “A dangerous trend is emerging in our country. There are gathering storms of conflict.
A stitch in time saves nine. Government must do the needful and set up an inquiry before overzealous law enforcement agents plunge the country into chaos.”
The Ohanaeze president general, who acknowledged that some of the issues are subjudice, said it is important in the public interest to note that the correct position of the law in Nigeria is that any curtailment of the right of the citizens to freely associate and assemble for lawful purpose is uncon-
He added that while it is unnecessary for police permit to be first had and obtained, prior to any assembly, subject of course to section 70 of the Criminal Code (See IGP V ANPP (2008) WRN 65; Anambra V AG Federation (2005) NWLR (PT 572) 616 per UWAIS JSC, “any attempt to deal with demonstrations of IPOB in a manner different from treatment of Boko Haram members, Niger Delta Avengers, Fulani herdsmen and Oodua Peoples Congress would be discriminatory and unfair.”
Meanwhile, former Political Adviser to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, has said that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari resuscitated militancy and civil unrest in the country. Ezeife stated this yesterday at the Authority Newspapers Awards, held in Abuja.
According to him, before the coming of Buhari as president, militancy in Nigeria was over.
He posited that there was no militancy disrupting the economy during Obasanjo and President Goodluck Jonathan’s administrations. Ezeife, who chaired the occasion, stated that appointments of persons in political offices and the exclusion of some zones were responsible for the civil un-rest being witnessed in the country today.
According to him, Buhari’s refusal to appoint the Igbo in political offices and his removing those already there, led to the issue of IPOB and MASSOB.
He said: “Buhari came and started marginalising the Igbo, even removing those who held sway in different positions of authority. He is also championing the killings of harmless Igbo youths at every slightest provocation. “The Federal Government is pushing the Igbo out of Nigeria by killing Igbo youths for no just cause.
“Buhari should know that there is too much blood flowing all over Nigeria. If the injustice and marginalization of the South-East persist, then Biafra as a physical entity becomes a reality”.
Also in his paper, True Federalism, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) stated that what would see Nigeria survive is proper deregulation of the country. According to him, Nigeria is not about the Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa Fulani alone, but 392 other ethnic groups. He stated that these ethnic groups must be given recognition if Nigeria has to go where it should go.