By Isaac Ojo
The Igbo Patriotic Forum (IPF), a prominent socio-political organization, led by Chief Dr. Simon Okeke, OFR condemns in no uncertain terms, what it considers the unbridled and well orchestrated invasion of Igbo heartland by unidentified elements from the North.
The condemnation was contained in a press statement the group released recently.
The group while affirming their belief in the unity of the country Nigeria and the constitutionally guaranteed free movement of people, they are alarmed that the present migration of thousands of young men from the North into the South generally and then South East in particular, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic not only poses a clear and present existential danger to the peace and security of Igboland but is also a dangerous threat to national unity. This is apart from being an utter violation of the clear guidelines on the freezing of interstate movements by people who are not on essential duties as proclaimed by President Muhammed Buhari and the national Covid-19 taskforce at the national level and all the state governors at the sub-national levels.
While IPF commend the efforts of the Federal and state governments in the diverse actions they have so far taken in curtailing the spread of the deadly Covid-19 contagion, including the robust regime of stoppage of interstate movement of people who are not on essential duties, “we are alarmed that this protocol is observed in breach with regard to the inexplicable exportation of able bodied young men from the North to Igboland using various means of transportation and in the full glare of well-armed and positioned security and law enforcement agents. Most shocking too is that rather than apprehend these youth whose mission in Igboland are unknown, some security agents are alleged to be the ones facilitating their utter violation of extant laws and executive orders and pronouncements on the interstate movement of people”. Continuing, Chief Okeke, a former Chairman of the Police Service Commission, averred that “it is most worrisome that even with all the alarm being raised by concerned public spirited individuals and civil society and community-based organizations, the silence by the Covid-19 national taskforce led by the SGF Boss Mustapha, and the entire security paraphernalia of the country on this invasion of the Igbo heartland is not only deafening but frightening”.
The group, also expressed concern about the apparent lack of vigour on the part of elected Igbo officials of the Executive and Legislative branches in acting on behalf of the people they are meant to represent and serve but appear even tongue-tied in voicing out their displeasure on this clear breach of the safety, security and well-being of their people. In this regard the group urges the elected Igbo leadership collective- the state governors and members of the NASS South East caucus- not to appear unconcerned about the violation of Igbo geographic spaces by unknown young men from the North; to develop clear strategic thinking in relation to safeguarding the Igbo heartland from outside invasion; and to double up on their level of networking ability in rallying stakeholders on the best efficient options and means of curtailing this unbecoming situation”. The group thus called on Igbo governors, senators and members of the house of representatives to “wake up from their slumber and begin to provide the needed leadership in the area of regional security as they governors have just signaled they are committed to doing going by the resolutions of the just concluded meeting of the South East Governors Forum so as to stem the tide of the invasion of Igboland by Northern youth which is an ill-wind that will not favour anybody”.
While reaffirming its faith in the unity of the country and the freedom of citizens to move and live in patently orderly manner in any part of the country, IPF maintained that the Federal authorities and the security agencies owe Nigerians the obligation of matching words with action noting that “while the rhetoric of interstate lockdown is sweet music to the ears of all health and security conscious Nigerians, walking the talk is what is more important. Federal authorities and security agents can no longer pontificate over the curtailment of interstate movement and yet are complicit in aiding the invasion of Igboland by unidentified Northern youth. If they are not complicit now is the time for them to speak up loud and clear in condemning this illegality. Now is the time for them to act, to deploy the huge tools and formidable assets of Federal might and the power of its security apparatuses to stem this invasion, roll it back, detain all those who violate the law and hold accountable their sponsors and all others who are aiding and abetting this flagrant violation and abuse of valid legal protocols on the movement of people
“Now is the time to see our National Assembly Men and Women deploy their oratorial power at its best to save our states. Now is the time for our South East Governors to truly demonstrate that indeed they are the Chief Security Officers of their States. Governors take charge and protect lives and properties of your citizens from our Invaders. Failure to speak out or Act NOW means quiet acquiescence.”