• Show us the pipelines we vandalised in Niger Delta, IPOB demands.
By Lawrence Njoku (Enugu) and Uzoma Nzeagwu (Awka).
The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has criticised President Muhammadu Buhari over his call on the United States, United Kingdom and other members of the international community to declare the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as a terrorist group.
The President had, on Tuesday, in his remarks during an interview with Bloomberg, urged the international allies to take an additional step to proscribe IPOB as a terrorist organisation and block the group from the international financial network.
In its reaction, yesterday, through the National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze, Dr Alex Ogbonnia, the group reminded President Buhari to remember and act on the congratulatory words of Alhaji Maitama Sule to him in 2015, that “justice is key to good governance,” which is what the Nnamdi Kanu-led IPOB group demands.
Ohanaeze simplified the demand of IPOB, which is “treat us as partners in the Nigerian project or allow us to go.”
The group also faulted lopsided appointments in most of the military and paramilitary agencies in the country, which are not favourable to the Southeast region.
It also lamented the fresh massacre in Benue State, where 16 residents were allegedly murdered in cold blood by marauding Fulani herders, adding that Buhari should channel his energy on these killers rather than focusing on how to label IPOB a terrorist group.
The statement reads in part: “It is most expedient to enlighten the general public that what IPOB is asking for is the parting words of a Nigerian titan: the Maitama Sule imperative to President Buhari when he led the Northern leader’s forum to congratulate Mr President shortly after his victory in 2015. Alhaji Maitama Sule of blessed memory in congratulating Mr President, admonished that ‘justice is key to good governance.’
“That Mr. President should extend justice to all and sundry, irrespective of religion or tribe. Sule reminded Mr. President that an infidel with good conscience and equity can govern successfully, far better than a believer devoid of a sense of justice. Sule added that the solution to Nigeria’s problems could never be achieved by force, nor by fear, nor by power but by equity and justice to all.
“The prophetic Sule urged him to do justice to all parts of the country because, according to him, peace and stability are a product of justice and equity. He added that in the absence of justice and equity, there can never be peace and development. Mr President knows he ignored the eternal advice from the Nigerian foremost patriot, democrat and diplomat.
“What, I think the IPOB is asking for is very clear: Treat us as partners in the Nigerian project or allow us to go. On the other hand, how can one explain the obvious lopsidedness in the appointment of military and paramilitary personnel to head the followings organisations with little or no Southeast considerations: Nigerian Army, Nigerian Airforce, Nigerian Navy, Nigeria Police Force, Department of State Security (DSS), National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Nigeria Correctional Service, Nigeria Immigration Service and Nigeria Customs Service, among several others.
“On the other hand, as Maitama Sule predicted, the orchestrated alienation of the Southeast from the centres of power is the basic cause of the agitation in the Southeast. The Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, led by Ambassador George Obiozor, has repeatedly stated that a people denied justice may not have an interest in peace.
“The request by Mr. President to the West is almost unachievable because the West watch with keen interest and utter resignation the pathetic governance paradigm in the country. For the avoidance of doubt, democracy all over the world requires justice, equity, mutual toleration and institutional forbearance all of which are in short supply in today’s Nigeria.
“Mr President is reminded that the British profound sense of justice, fortitude, restraint, civic virtues and forbearance are the hallmarks that sustain their enviable government with an unwritten constitution. In a similar vein, what sustains the U.S. democracy is not just the constitution but democratic norms and values anchored on justice and patriotism.
“Ohanaeze contends that if Mr President confronts the menace of the Fulani herdsmen who have been terrorising many states, communities and individuals for over seven years now with similar obsession and commitment deployed to IPOB, Nigeria will be a better place.”
MEANWHILE, IPOB has denied their alleged involvement in pipeline vandalism in the Niger Delta by President Buhari. The group described the President’s allegation as childish, insisting that everybody knows that IPOB does not engage in pipeline vandalism in Nigeria, adding that the international community knows that IPOB does not involve in such acts.
The Media and Publicity Secretary of IPOB, Comrade Emma Powerful, in a statement, yesterday, claimed that the Federal Government and Western audience already know the pipeline vandals.
The statement reads in part: “Our attention has been drawn to the laughable and fallacious statement from the President of Nigeria, alleging that IPOB is behind pipeline vandalism in the Niger Delta.
“For the President to tell the U.S. and other Western countries that IPOB is responsible for pipeline vandalism in the Niger Delta shows how shallow-minded he is. Why should he choose to further advertise the failure of his government in credible intelligence gathering by making such laughable, wide and untenable allegations?
“President Buhari should tell America and other Western countries the locations of pipelines IPOB vandalised in the country.”