A high-powered delegation of the Northern Governors’ Forum, on Monday, visited the South-East states and Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, with a message that despite the unfortunate incident in Abia State, steps had been taken to ensure that there were no reprisals in different parts of the country.
Making a veiled reference to the attacks by members of the Indigenous People of Biafra on the Hausa community in some parts of the country, the governors said no law-abiding Nigerian deserved to be punished as a result of where he resided.
They called for the enthronement of peace- building measures despite the challenges facing the country.
The northern governors, who hailed Wike for taking urgent steps that led to the protection of Nigerians living in the state, made reference to the clashes that erupted in the Oyigbo Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, said Wike’s actions, especially his state-wide broadcast, helped to restore peace, despite the challenges.
Shettima stated, “Governor Wike, we are mightily proud of you. We are mightily associating ourselves with you. Nigeria is greater than political differences. We belong to one political family and that is the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“No interest should be bigger than the Federal Republic of Nigeria. You believe in the Nigerian Project. For that, we remain eternally grateful. In spite of what has happened in Abia State, steps have been put in place to ensure there is no retaliatory attack in any part of the country.”
Wike promised that he would continue to protect all Nigerians and foreigners living in the state.
The governor added, “Rivers State believes in the unity of this country. Rivers State will not be part of those calling for the disintegration of Nigeria. We owe it as a duty to protect every Nigerian living in the state.
“I will not allow any group to intimidate, harass or attack other Nigerians living in the state. We are Rivers people and we belong to the Niger Delta.”
Explaining that violence can never lead to the resolution of any grievances, Wike urged aggrieved persons to embrace dialogue in the interest of peace and development.
He added that the people of Rivers State had their own peculiar grievances against developmental issues in the country, pointing out that as governor, he had raised such issues, but would never support disintegration.
On the delegation of the Forum, led by its Chairman and Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, were Katsina State Governor, Mr. Bello Masari; Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal; Kebbi State Governor, Senator Atiku Bagudu; and Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong.
Also, during the visit of the northern governors to Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, on Monday, Shettima said no part of Nigeria could comfortably accommodate Nigerians in the event of any major crisis in the country.
Speaking in Umuahia during the visit, Shettima stated that the northern governors had faith in the unity of Nigeria.
He added that some of the governors, who had served in the National Assembly, had mixed with people from different parts of the country and had built a coalition across the country.
He stated, “We are here on behalf of northern governors to commend Governor Ikpeazu for his high quality leadership in handling the crisis in Abia.
“We are here to show solidarity. We have a moral obligation to ensure that Nigeria remain one. Nigeria is the largest conglomeration of black people in Africa and we cannot afford to separate.
‘‘If we separate, where do we go? North is the Sahara Desert and Chad cannot contain us. If we go South, it is the Atlantic Ocean; south is too small for us and the mountains of East Africa, with their so many challenges, cannot accommodate us.
“We are here to remind Nigerians that we are better as one. We are here to also invite our South-East colleagues to come to the flashpoints of the North to speak to Ndigbo living in the North.”
Ikpeazu hailed the northern governors for identifying with Abia residents and other Nigeria living in the state during the crisis period.
He pointed out that normalcy had returned to the state, saying Muslims had peaceful worship in mosques on Friday.
Ikpeazu added that just as in Jos, the curfew in the state would run from 10pm to 6am.
He said, “I am delighted by this show of solidarity by our brothers from the North. When this crisis started, I asked myself: what will my brother, Tambuwal in Sokoto, do if he is in my shoes or Shettima of Borno?
“We are one and I want to assure you that the security of all Abia residents, both indigenes are non-indigenes, are guaranteed. We cannot allow a few people to separate us.”
Meanwhile, IPOB, on Monday, asked the Federal Government to produce its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, who they claimed had been missing since soldiers invaded his residence in Umuahia.
The group said the Nigerian Army might have arrested or killed Kanu and his parents.
The IPOB, in a statement by its spokesman, Emma Powerful, equally alleged that the whereabouts of Kanu’s parents were unknown.
Powerful said Kanu’s parents had been missing since the alleged invasion of the family’s residence by soldiers.
The secessionists insinuated that Kanu and his parents might have been killed by the soldiers or detained in an unknown location.
He added, “We, the family of the Indigenous People of Biafra and its leadership worldwide, under the command and leadership of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, wish to bring to the notice of the whole world that the whereabouts of our leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, and parents are still unknown to mankind since the attack on his compound last week.
“IPOB have been searching for our leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, and his parents, who are nowhere to be found since last week.
“We are challenging the Nigerian Army and police to produce our leader since it is a prerogative right for him to make statement informing his confidants and teeming members all over the world about his condition.
“The Nigerian government knows the whereabouts of our leader, whether he is alive or dead, because the army has done the job they (personnel) were sent to do at Isiama, Afaraukwu Ibeku in Umuahia, Abia State, which was to kill Kanu and other members of the family.
“We were reliably informed that the Nigerian Army picked up Nnamdi Kanu, his father and mother within the time of the attack.
“We have gone so deep in search of our leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, but he is nowhere to be found.
“It is high time the whole world asked questions about Nnamdi Kanu’s whereabouts because members of Kanu’s family were inside the compound during the attack.”
Powerful also claimed that 22 IPOB members were killed during the alleged attack on Kanu’s residence.
IPOB, which stressed that Kanu was ready to attend the next hearing in his ongoing trial in Abuja in October, wondered whether the Federal Government had made good its plan to re-arrest him without first obtaining a court order.
Biafran agitators using fake videos to deceive international community –FG
But the Federal Government, on Monday, accused members of the IPOB of using fake videos of mass killings, harvested from other parts of Africa and doctored to look current, to mislead the international community and win their support.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, stated this when he addressed Online Publishers in Lagos on Monday.
He alleged that IPOB was planning to externalise the struggle, saying its members had been writing to the governments and national parliaments of some western nations to give the impression that they were being victimised.
Mohammed stated, ‘’We must warn the nation against IPOB’s next line of action, which is to externalise their lies and propaganda. Now they are writing to the governments and the national parliaments of some Western nations to give the impression that they are victims of an ethno-sectarian violence orchestrated by the government, hence they need protection.
‘‘Some of the tools that have been employed by IPOB include blatant lies and cheap propaganda, and the medium of choice for the organisation is the social media.
“IPOB has harvested gory videos and pictures from other lands and the distant past, which they are now circulating via the social media, to deceive the international community into believing that the people of the South-East are being subjected to state-sponsored, ethno-religious violence.
‘‘Such videos, which have very high emotive quotient, are circulating on the social media as we speak. These videos are doctored to make them look current. They are fake.’’
Mohammed said some ill-informed foreign individuals were already trumpeting IPOB’s lies and propaganda and even alleging genocide.
He added, “It is either they do not understand the meaning of genocide or are being mischievous. Either way, there is nothing like genocide anywhere in our country today. What we have in the South-East is a clampdown on a band of lawless people who have no regard for the laws of the land.’’
Military begins gradual withdrawal from Aba
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army, on Monday, commenced gradual withdrawal of its operatives stationed at various checkpoints in Aba after the recent clash with protesting members of IPOB.
NAN investigation on Monday showed that only a few of the new military checkpoints, mounted in the commercial city, had been dismantled.
The five military checkpoints, mounted on the busy Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway, had been reduced to three.
Emeka Chukwuma, a tricycle operator and resident of the city, told NAN that the checkpoints were causing gridlock.
He appealed to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu to prevail on the military authorities to remove the checkpoints to ease traffic.
Meanwhile, activities are gradually returning to normal in Aba after the clashes between the military and the IPOB members.
Markets have re-opened after the five-day dusk to dawn curfew imposed on the city by the governor.
Most of the shops at Ariaria International Market, New Market, Shopping Centre, Cemetery Markets have re-opened for business while customers were seen going about their business.
Punishment for IPOB activities as terrorist group is death –Anambra CP
In another dimension, however, the Anambra State Police Command, on Monday, said it was ready to enforce the ban on IPOB.
The Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr. Garba Umar, stated this at a press conference in his office at Amawbia near Awka, the state capital.
He reminded IPOB members that the punishment for belonging to the group as terrorist organisation was death.
His statement read in part, “Any person/persons involved in the activities of this proscribed group will be arrested and charged to court.
“The Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2013 as amended, provides a minimum punishment of 20 years and maximum, death sentence, depending on the offence.
“Section 37 Sub-section (1) Criminal Code Act, Cap 77, provides that “any person, who wages war against the state in order to intimidate or coerce the President or state governor, is guilty of treason and is liable on conviction to be sentenced to death.
“Therefore, I enjoin the general public to know that participating in the activities of this group is illegal and would amount to treasonable felony.
“I want to warn the general populace to desist from aiding and abetting members of this group. They should provide useful information to the Police to help us arrest fleeing members of this outlawed organisation.”
We’ll bounce back, says IPOB
IPOB also said no intimidation would make it surrender its fight for an independent Biafra nation.
It described the proscription of the group by the South-East governors as well as the declaration of it as a terrorist organisation by the Nigerian Army as a nullity and of no effect.
It maintained that only a referendum to determine a sovereign state of Biafra would assuage the group.
In a statement by Powerful, it wondered why herdsmen, who had consistently wreaked havoc on different parts of the country, had not been declared a terrorist organisation.
It accused the Federal Government of having a secret agenda to exterminate the Igbo race, adding that the Abia State Commissioner of Police was playing a rehashed script.
The group said, “It is also on record that till date, no police commissioner or governor in the South-East or South-South has dared to rise up against the fourth deadliest terrorist group in the world we know as Fulani herdsmen.”
The group vowed to continue its struggle irrespective of the intimidation, adding that in the end, governors in the South-East would regret their action of fighting their own people.