By Emeka Mamah, Vincent Ujumadu, Kingsley Omonobi, Anayo Okoli, Peter Okutu, Joseph Erunke, Nwabueze Okonkwo, Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Uguchukwu Alaribe, Dirisu Yakugbu, Festus Ahon, Ndahi Marama, Emeka Mama, Abdullahi el-Kurebe and Demola Akinyemi,
•Presidency replies Obasanjo, Jonathan
•Brandish IPOB flag, get arrested, Abia CP warns
•Group not a terrorist organisation – Ohanaeze
•Attacks in Delta, Sokoto foiled
South-East governors, yesterday, justified the proscription of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPoB), saying the action was to douse tension and end loss of lives in the region.
The Chairman of the South-East Governors Forum, Governor David Umahi, said the proscription had achieved its desired result.
Umahi, who addressed journalists in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State capital, with some security chiefs in attendance, claimed IPoB had lost its mandate by causing tension and killings in the South-East.
The group fought back, last night, condemning its proscription. It described itself as a peaceful organisation.
Meanwhile, the foremost Igbo body, Ohanaze, rose yesterday, from its meeting, insisting that IPOB is not a terrorist organisation.
The governor spoke on a day four persons were said to have been killed after assailants suspected to be IPoB members attacked a settlement in Asaba, Delta State capital.
In Sokoto, miscreants attacked traders, mostly Igbo, along Old Market Road, Ahmadu Bello Way and Emir Yahaya, forcing them to close shop.
Solders were immediately deployed to stop the attack.
Tension had risen sharply in the South-East after soldiers on Operation Python Dance II clashed with members of IPoB in Umuahia, Abia State capital, last Sunday.
There have been conflicting accounts of the showdown in which several people were said to have been injured.
The incident caused Abia State government to imposed curfew in the state while the Igbo influential group, Ohanaeze, called for the withdrawal of the Operation Python Dance II from the South-East.
Umuahia is the home town of the IPoB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, who is on trial for leading the secessionist bid for Biafra.
On Friday, former President Olusegun Obasanjo asked President Muhammadu Buhari to meet Kanu to resolve the crisis while former President Goodluck Jonathan called for a Council of State meeting to discuss the South-East development.
Presidency replies Obasanjo, Jonathan
The Presidency, yesterday, said the advice from Obasanjo and Jonathan was just the opinion of the two former leaders.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said, as former Presidents, they had the right to their opinions.
He told Sunday Vanguard on phone, “It is just an opinion. They have the right to their opinion. They are former Presidents, it is their opinion.”
Umahi, the Chairman of the South-East Governors Forum, during his press conference, yesterday, said IPoB activities in Abia had gone out of control of Kanu.
“When you put a small fire, how far it can go cannot be controlled. The IPoB activities were gradually going out of control of Nnamdi Kanu. Soldiers were passing by when IPOB members started throwing stones and other objects at them and it sparked the clash between the group and the military”, he said, while narrating the Sunday confrontation.
“It is a shame that when this thing happened, a man called Charles Ogbu had to send the phone numbers of South-East governors, the Senate President among others to our people and all our people could do was to call to insult us, talk to us anyhow. These are people that never experienced war in their lives.
“Our focus is how to save lives of every Nigerian and we believe in a united Nigeria. Lives of people are involved and we must not play politics with that”.
The Ebonyi governor asked security agents to ensure the safety of non-indigenes in Ebonyi and the entire South-East.
“Anybody that wants to foment trouble must be crushed and I want security agencies to beef up security around non-indigenes in the state and to report to me of any problem because we must maintain the peace.
He called on youths to stop insulting President Muhammadu Buhari and leaders of the country. Umahi explained that Operation Python Dance had no ulterior motive, saying it was to check kidnapping, armed robbery and other social vices in the South-East.
The Chairman of the South-East Governors Forum announced the setting up of an investigative panel to look into the alleged killings arising from the clash between IPOB and the military in Abia.
He hinted that northern governors will soon visit the South-East, a visit to be replicated by South-East governors to the North as a means of fostering unity in the country.
He maintained that majority of Igbo do not want secession from Nigeria but to be treated fairly, equitably and justly in the country.
Umahi explained that injustice or marginalisation should not be a reason to talk about secession, maintaining that dialogue should be the best way to resolve and redress all differences.
The governor said Operation Python Dance Two was not targeted at IPOB.
He noted that no one including the military expected that there will be violence as the Egwu Eke II that was staged last year was largely successful.
4 killed in Delta assault
The Asaba killing of four persons on Friday night was said to have been carried out by IPoB members or a cult group.
The attack targeted a Hausa community in the Delta State capital.
Sunday Vanguard learnt that the assailants, numbering three and clad in black attires, invaded the settlement located in Abraka market at about 10pm, killing three men, one woman while five others were left with grave injuries.
Armed with guns and other dangerous weapons, the suspected killers allegedly shot sporadically into where the victims were sleeping.
A source said the suspects also threw bomb into a mosque at Cable Point, adding that a brave resident picked the bomb and threw it into the river before it could explode.
The source explained that armed soldiers and policemen immediately arrived the scene and chased the invaders away.
According to him, the security agents took the injured persons to hospital for treatment and deposited the corpses of the deceased in mortuary, lamenting that they did not sleep throughout the night.
Those killed were identified as Usman Abdullahi, Ali Sidi, Ibrahim Zubairu and the woman simply identified as Hauwa.
Confirming the attack in a statement, Delta State Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, CSP Andrew Aniamaka, said two suspects had been arrested in connection with their alleged involvement in the dastardly act.
Aniamaka named the arrested suspects as “Abraham Ndudi ‘m’, 24, from Kwale, Delta State, and Okereke Ifeanyi ‘m’, 21, from Ogbaru, Anambra State”, adding that the suspects were arrested from their hiding place in the ceiling of a major hotel in Abraka, Asaba, where they had fled into in their bid to escape arrest.
Noting that the suspects were already helping the police in their investigation, he said “efforts are in top gear to arrest the third suspect, whose real name is unknown but simply identified as Last Burial”.
According to him, the five persons injured in the attack were recuperating at the Federal Medical Centre, Asaba.
While saying that investigation has commenced into the incident with a view to finding out the motive behind the shooting and the possible involvement of other conspirators in shooting and wounding of innocent persons, the police enjoined “non-indigenes and indigenes alike not to panic or contemplate any reprisal action as the law will surely take its course”.
Borno meets Igbo leaders
To douse tension in Borno, the state government, yesterday, met with the President General of Igbo Welfare Association, Chief Maclaw Nwaogu, and other leaders of Igbo community in the state, and assured them of protection of lives and property.
Governor Kashim Shettima, represented by his deputy, Alhaji Usman Mamman Durkwa, said the meeting with the Igbo community in the state was at the instance of the governor who was out of the state on an official assignment.
Durkwa said, inspite of the secessionist crisis in some parts of Nigeria, the Igbo community in Borno had demonstrated some level of maturity and resilience, adding that, even at the peak of insurgency, which saw many people fleeing the state, the Igbo remained calm and went about their normal businesses.
Sokoto: Soldiers deployed after attack on Igbo traders
In the Sokoto incident, Igbo traders were forced to close shop as soldiers were deployed to Bello Way to prevent further attacks on the traders.
The irate youths, said to be carrying cutlasses, stones and sticks, allegedly set a building belonging to one Chief Gabriel Okafor on fire.
“I had gone out when I received a call from my wife that some youths had invaded my house and set it ablaze. My family narrowly escaped the attack,” Okafor told Sunday Vanguard. Another victim, William Usoh, said the windscreen of his car was smashed by some youths along Emir Yahaya Road. “It was the arrival of the Nigeria Civil Defence and Security Corps (NCSDC) that stopped the youths from vandalizing shops within the vicinity,” he said.
The President of Igbo Community in Sokoto State, Chief Charles Uwaga, confirmed that some of his members had been attacked. “A member just called me to say his house had been razed. There are also cases of shops being vandalised.” Sunday Vanguard saw soldiers, policemen and men of Civil Defence Corps on major streets in Sokoto.
The situation forced the state government to call on residents to go about their activities without fear of molestation. A statement by the spokesman to Governor Aminu Tambuwal, Imam Imam, said: “Against the backdrop of heightened security situation in other parts of the country, Sokoto State government has urged all residents to go about their normal activities without fear of molestation.”
Saying that arrangements had been put in place to ensure security of lives and property, the statement stressed that nothing that was happening in other parts of the country will have a reprisal effect on Sokoto residents.
IPOB not a terrorist organization—Ohanaeze
Ohanaeze said that indeed IPOB is not a terrorist organization going by extant national and international laws, especially the terrorist prevention Act 2011, as amended in 2015.
It? however commended the South east Governors for their role in dousing the escalated tension over army’s siege of the region.
Rising from Imeobi meeting in Enugu, last night, the apex Igbo body said it stood for a united Nigeria under a restructured federal system of government that guarantees justice, equity and fairness.
In a communique read by the President General ?of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, flanked by other Igbo leaders, it condemned the military operation in the zone and urged the army to terminate the exercise henceforth.
The group said it will hold a special summit soonest in support of the restructuring agenda and supported all the resolutions of the southern leaders forum.
It emphasized concern on the continued policy ?of marginalization of south east zone as the basic cause of renewed agitation by Pro-Biafra groups.
Those who attended the meeting included: President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Chief Nnia Nwodo, Deputy
Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, Abia state Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, Imo state Deputy Governor Eze Madumere and Ebonyi state deputy Governor kelechi Igwe.
Others are former President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Prof Joe Irukwu, former Secretary General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Dr. Joe Nworgu, former minister for Information Walter Ofonagoro, former deputy Governor of Ebonyi state Prof Chigozie Ogbu, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, Dr. Greg Ibe and former Governor of Anambra state Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife.
We are a peaceful organisation — IPOB
The group called IPOB, condemning the South East Governors Forum for its proscription, described itself a peaceful body.
In a statement by its media and publicity secretary, Comrade Emma Powerful, the organization said the speed with which the governors announced the proscription of IPOB’s activities had proved that the governors “would remain slaves in the hands of their Hausa-Fulani masters”.
According to IPOB, it was unfortunate that the governors declared the group as illegal without condemning the barbaric and unprovoked killings of IPOB people in Umuahia, Aba and Port Harcourt, “as well as the continuous killing, raping of women and destruction of farm crops by Hausa-Fulani herdsmen masquerading as cattle rearers in Biafra land”.
The group went on: “We want to find out how the governors who do not know the foundations of IPOB, would make such a statement when they know that IPOB had staged 297 peaceful protests and rallies both at home and in Diaspora without a single record of violence or crime. With the record on ground, IPOB under Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, is one of the most peaceful organized freedom fighting groups in the world today.
“It is dangerous that the governors who are the chief security officers of their respective states in the zone would decide to hand over their people to the enemies who were out to kill, maim and destroy because of their selfish reasons.
“IPOB under Mazi Nnamdi Kanu must remain a nonviolent group in the pursuit for Biafra freedom, despite the high handedness meted against IPOB members and our leader.”
Brandish IPoB flag, get arrested Abia CP
Abia State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Anthony Ogbizi, warned that anybody found with Biafra emblem will be arrested and charged to court.
Ogbizi, who spoke while parading seven suspected members of IPOB, explained that with the proscription of the group by the South-East governors, it had become illegal for anyone to operate under IPOB or adorn Biafra emblems.
He lamented that one of the injured officers in the Sunday showdown with IPoB, an Assistant Superintendent of Police, ASP, serving at the Ariaria Police Station, had died out of the injuries he sustained.
The CP, who had earlier visited the burnt Ariaria Police Station in the company of the Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG, in charge of Operations, Force Headquarters, Taiwo Lakanu, accused IPOB of engaging in violence and propaganda under the guise of agitation for Biafra.
The CP also stated that IPOB attacked the area where the AIG Zone 9, Commissioner of Police, the Speaker and the Attorney General of the state reside, with petrol bombs, describing the attack as well planned.
He, however, denied that Kanu’s parents were being detained by the police.
Military lacks power to declare IPOB a terrorist organization – PDP
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Publicity Secretary, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, condemned the declaration of IPOB as a terrorist organization by the military, stating that the authorities lacked such power.
He said: “I believe that the power to proscribe an organisation lies essentially with the National Assembly and the Federal Government of Nigeria. It does not lie with the governors or the military.”
He, however, lauded the efforts of the South-East governors for banning IPOB and instructed its leaders, particularly Nnamdi Kanu to forward the group’s demands to the South- East Governors’ Forum and the Ohanaeze.
“The governors are the chief security officers of the various states and the primary responsibility of government is to secure lives and property of its citizens. That is the first and most important responsibility of government. Therefore as chief security officers of their states, they are allowed to take every measure that will ensure that peace reigns supreme in their various states. I believe that the governors of the South-East states have acted in the best interest of the country.
“But for the military, I think they over reached themselves by declaring IPOB a terrorist organisation. It is not in their powers to do so but that of the National Assembly ,” he said.
Adeyeye also decried the dearth of leadership among Ndigbo, noting that the development is largely to blame for the emergence of the now outlawed IPOB.
Ozekhome rejects classification of IPoB as terrorist group
Constitutional lawyer and human rights activist, Chief Mike Ozekhome, also rejected the description of IPOB as a terrorist organization by the military, saying the Federal Government appeared to be selective in its pronouncement.
Ozekhome wondered why other groups had not been declared terrorists organizations.
He said, “I do not believe the instances cited by the Defence Headquarters to justify the declaration of IPOB as a terrorist organization”.
“The herdsmen who go on rampage daily, maiming, raping, killing; those responsible for the Agatu massacre, Shiites massacre, Southern Kaduna pogrom, indiscriminate killings, brazen quit notices givers, across Nigeria, etc, have never been arrested, prosecuted, let alone being proscribed and stigmatized as terrorist organizations.
Tag herdsmen terrorists too – Owie
National Leader (South-south) of Action Democratic Party (ADP), Senator Roland Owie, faulted the decision by the military to declare IPOB as a terrorist group, saying it smacked of double standard.
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