The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to warn the Chief of Army Staff of the Nigerian Army, Lt. Gen. Faruk Yahaya and Police Commissioners in the South-East over alleged killing of innocent Igbo youths in the region.
Ohanaeze said this in a statement issued on Tuesday by the National Publicity Secretary, Dr Alex Ogbonnia, in reaction to the unjustified killing of members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, who were peacefully protesting the continued detention of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu despite being acquitted by the Appeal Court.
“Enough is enough,” Ohaneze warned, noting that there is a limit Ndigbo can be pushed in the quest for one Nigeria.
It condemned the point-blank shooting of unarmed Igbo youths by soldiers and policemen in the South East in the name of quelling agitation for Biafra.
The Igbo group regretted the ‘Igbophobia’ being propagated across the country which led to the rigging of the 2023 Presidential election to prevent an Igboman no matter how credible and competent from becoming the President of Nigeria.
It added that all the security agencies were silent and went to sleep while Igbos are being attacked, killed and properties burnt in Lagos but at the same time the same security agents will kill Igbo youths in the South-East for protesting and not attacking anyone.
The statement partly read, “The attention of the Ohaneze Ndigbo Worldwide has been drawn to the remarks made by the Chief of Army Staff of the Nigerian Army, Lt. Gen. Faruk Yahaya, with the heading: “Don’t threaten Nigeria’s integrity – COAS warns IPOB, ESN”.
“Yahaya is quoted to have warned that ‘the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Eastern Security Network, ESN, or any other group or individuals have no constitutional backing to threaten Nigeria’s integrity.’”
“Yahaya emphasised that ‘elections or no elections, neither IPOB, ESN nor any other group or individuals should threaten the integrity of this Nation as enshrined in the Constitution of Nigeria. Yahaya issued the warning at an Army event in Abuja, on Monday, April 3, 2023.
“On Friday, March 31, 2023, five members of the IPOB were shot dead in Osusu, Aba, Abia State, while they were on a procession.
“Confirming the incident, the Abia State Commissioner of Police, Mr Mustapha Mohammed Bala, a Katsina-born well-educated police officer claimed that “On 31/03/2023 at about 11:45hours, policemen on confidence building patrol/show of force within Aba metropolis came under attack by the proscribed IPOB/ESN members.
“They were armed with petrol bombs, machetes, battle axes and other dangerous weapons. Bala added that “the attack was repelled by the Police operatives with minimal casualties while the majority of the hoodlums scampered for safety.”
“Ohanaeze’s findings revealed that ‘some residents, armed with video evidence, informed that the group was protesting peacefully against the continued detention of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, without disturbance before they were shot at.
“It is most appalling that Bala should refer to the IPOB men as ‘hoodlums’ and most unconscionable to view the death of five IPOB members as ‘minimal casualties.’
“Every knowledgeable Nigerian knows that the current political travails in Nigeria are rooted in Igbophobia. The backwardness and poverty that have become the character of Nigeria are the manifestations of Igbophobia or the orchestrated marginalization and alienation of the Igbo from the centres of power.
“For the avoidance of doubts, the IPOB philosophy is in line with the position of Chief E K Clark, the Leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum and the Leader of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, ‘that the former military Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, should have allowed the Igbo to secede at the outset of the civil war in 1966.’
“And that ‘instead of continued mistreatment of the Igbo in Nigeria, they should be allowed to go.”‘
“IPOB insists that instead of the continued indignities to the Igbo, they should be allowed to go.
“In other words, while the Ohanaeze Ndigbo on one hand and the IPOB on the other converge on the dissatisfaction with the Igbo mistreatment in Nigeria, the divergence is on the approach or methodology for a change.”
Ohanaeze stated that it has been looking forward to a day like today when in collaboration and coalition with other ethnic nationalities, eminent Nigerians of goodwill, the youth and indeed all the progressive minds, will through a social change dynamic and democratic process entrench good governance in Nigeria.
Ohanaeze further stated, “We believe that with good leadership, Nigeria has sufficient human and natural resources that will stimulate upscale prosperity and sustainable economic development for the good of everybody in the country.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide has often reiterated that a search for peace, progress and development in Nigeria will remain elusive or unachievable without justice and equity. Nigeria at the moment is at a critical juncture with two major options: truth and progress on one hand or falsity and backwardness, poverty and political travails on the other.
“Finally, while we are still in one-week mourning and sackcloth for the five boys or the “minimal casualty” by Mustapha Mohammed Bala boys at Aba during a peaceful protest for the release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, another Yakub Yahaya is using his office to issue a profiling threat to the IPOB.
“Ohanaeze has repeatedly called for a political solution in resolving the IPOB matter and that the adoption of extra-judicial minimal casualties daily against the IPOB by the Nigerian security operatives is heinous, savage, unethical, antithetical to democratic norms and, of course, far from the solution.
“Even when the previous calls on the Presidency appear to have fallen on deaf ears, we still remind President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR and the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces to rein in the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Yakub Yahaya from his selective threat to the IPOB.
“Such selective profiling is enough considering the hundreds of lives that have been neutralised through the Bala concept of minimal casualties.”