Travel ban: South East governors won’t apologise to IPOB – Umahi

…beg Buhari for expansion of Enugu Airport tarmac

Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, says the South East governors will not apologise to the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

IPOP in a statement on Wednesday had demanded an apology from the governors as part of peace and reconciliation measures between the group and the state executives.

IPOP said the apology had become necessary given the South East governors denial of their complicity in the 2017 Operation Python Dance Military exercise, which lead to loss of many lives. IPOP also hinged the need for the apology on the governors’ role in the proscription of the group by the Federal Government.

Umahi, while fielding questions from State House correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari,  dismissed the demand for an apology by IPOB, noting that it was not the governors who proscribed the group but the Federal Government.

Umahi who is the Chairman of Southeast Governors Forum, also described the travel ban by IPOP  as empty threats, adding that no responsible government would allow a proscribed group to promote lawlessness among its people.

“We have no apology for IPOB because we did not proscribe them,” said Umahi. “Yes, we are the leaders of the people and we had to speak against their activities,” he added.

The governor also mocked IPOB, saying: “IPOB have no powers to place travel ban on governors or anyone; I will even tell IPOB any time I intend to travel.”

Meanwhile, the governors have called on the Federal Government to include the expansion of the tarmac of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu in the planned rehabilitation work at the airport.

The Chairman of the Forum, Gov. Dave Umahi of Ebonyi, made the call when he briefed State House Correspondents after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He said the call had become imperative in order to accommodate bigger aircraft at the airport.

“I came to see him on behalf of our people on the closure of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu.

”We are very happy with him for ordering the closure of the airport consequent to our letter to him to intervene and that closure has saved a lot of lives because if you land at that tarmac you will see that the tarmac was gone.

”We are aware it wasn’t constructed by the present administration but the tarmac became bad as soon as it was completed.

”So, we have discussed the timeline for the completion. We are all aware that towards December, we have a lot of heightened social-economic activities in South East and Enugu is our base – it’s our capital, what Kaduna is to the north, it’s what Enugu is to the South East.

”So, we pleaded with Mr President for the extension of the tarmac so that it can accommodate bigger aircraft;

“We pleaded with Mr President to do what he did when we had the same issue with Abuja International Airport, which he intervened in a number of ways.

”He provided a number of palliative like buses with escorts armed, provided helicopters (though the government didn’t pay for that but they paid for vehicles) which they did through a number of transport companies,” he said.

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