… Say secessionists not speaking for Ndigbo
Southeast leaders Saturday reaffirmed their commitment to one united Nigeria under the platform of justice, equality of rights, fairness, love and respect for one another.
The leaders also used the opportunity to disown secessionist activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and other pro-Biafran agitators, saying the groups were never speaking for the Igbo.
Rising from a close door security meeting at the Enugu State government house, the leaders made up of Southeast present and past governors, ministers, National Assembly members, other leaders of political, religious and traditional institutions from the zone, the leaders condemned in totality the violent secessionist agitations in the southeast and firmly proclaimed that “we do not support them. They do not speak for Southeast”.
In a communiqué read to journalists at the end of the four-hour meeting, by the chairman of the Southeast Governors Forum and Ebonyi State governor, Engr. Dave Umahi, said the leaders have set up a committee to engage such youths leading secessionist agitations to stop and allow the elders of the Southeast to address their fears.
Umahi also assured non-Igbos living in the southeast of their security and protection.
The fully attended meeting also directed southeast governors and Ohanaeze Ndigbo to liaise with indigenes from Northern part of Nigeria and other indigenes of other regions that are living in the southeast to come out openly to assure their people and Nigerians that they are very safe and well protected while living in the southeast.
According to Umahi, the meeting was a follow-up of the meeting Presidential delegation, led by the Minister of Defence, Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi had with the Igbo leaders, on June 11, 2021, on the security challenges confronting the region in particular and Nigeria in general.
The meeting, he added, was to enable the leaders to articulate their position to enable them not only to engage the presidential team but to also engage their people overall burning issues.
The communiqué reads in part: “We, the southeast leaders condemn in totality the violent secessionist agitations in the southeast. We firmly proclaim that we do not support them. They do not speak for the Southeast.
“The impression that Southeast leaders are silent over the agitations of our youths for secession is not correct. Southeast governors, Ohanaeze Ndigbo president and our national assembly members, our ministers and our leadership from southeast, notable leaders from southeast had come out publicly many times in the past to speak against such agitations.
“In order not to mismanage the unfortunate situation we found ourselves, Southeast leaders have set up a committee to engage such youths to stop and allow the elders of Southeast to address their fears.
“Meeting directed our governors and Ohanaeze Ndigbo to liaise with indigenes from Northern part of Nigeria and other indigenes of other regions that are living in the southeast to come out openly to assure their people and Nigerians that they are very safe and well protected while living in the southeast.
“The meeting also set up a committee under Ohanaeze to articulate and address all burning issues to further meet amongst ourselves and further meet with the presidential team
“We the Igbos reaffirm commitment to one united Nigeria under the platform of justice, equality of rights, fairness, love and respect for one another.”
The communiqué also noted the threats by some groups in some other regions against the people of Southeast even as the leaders firmly promised to protect everyone either from the Southeast or anywhere living in the southeast.
“We plead with the leaders of other regions to please note the threats against our people and protect them.
“We condemn the killing of security agents, burning of security infrastructure and killing of civilians in Southeast and even other regions. We request the security agencies to discharge their duties within the rules of engagement under the rule of law.”
The communiqué endorsed the Southeast joint security outfit, Ebube Agu and asked all the personnel of Ebube Agu to work with security agencies and respect the rights and privileges of all those living in the southeast and her visitors.
The communiqué also requested national assembly members from the Southeast to support state police creation in the ongoing Constitutional amendment.
It commended Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State for taking the pains of hosting them at all times without complaining.
Other governors present in the meeting included Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State while Governor Hope Uzodimma and his Anambra State counterpart, Chief Willie Obiano were represented by their deputies, Prof. Placid Njoku and Nkem Okeke respectively.
Other leaders present were former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu; Senate Minority leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe; former governor of Ebonyi State, Senator Sam Egwu; former Governor of Imo State, Dr. Ikedi Ohakim, former governor of old Anambra State, Senator Jim Nwobodo and president-general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Prof. George Obiozor and his predecessor, Chief Nnia Nwodo.
Others were: Minister of labour and productivity, Senator Chris Ngige; Minister of state for mines and steel, Uche Ogah; former secretary to the government of the federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim; elder statesman, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu; Archbishop Emmanuel Chukwuma and Bishop Callistus Onaga of Enugu Anglican and Catholic Dioceses; Southeast CAN Chairman, Bishop Emmanuel Ede and Former INEC Chairman, Maurice Iwu.
The rest included Allison Madueke, Mark Wabara, Senators Julius Ucha and Obinna Ogba, traditional rulers