By Tony Edike, Enugu
THE Nigerian Army said in Enugu yesterday that it was fully prepared to contain any form of uprising or reprisal attacks in the 10 states of Abia, Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Benue, Cross River, Ebonyi, Imo, Rivers and some parts of Taraba State which make up the 82 Division.
The Army called on citizens to go about their routine duties and disregard text messages urging non Christians to leave the area, saying necessary security measures had been put in place to ensure adequate protection of lives and property.
The assurance came as the Igbo Youth Movement, IYM, yesterday declared a 14- day prayer and fasting beginning from today for the peace, unity and progress of the country.
The IYM said it has implicit confidence in the ability of the Federal Government to resolve challenges now facing the country. Briefing newsmen in Enugu yesterday, against the backdrop of recent threatening short text messages asking non-natives and non-Christians to vacate the South East or face massive attack, General Officer Commanding the 82 Division of the Nigeria Army, Major General Sunday Idoko, said the army was determined to deal with any group that tried to thwart the relative peace and stability being enjoyed within the states under the division.
He stated that the ugly text messages could lead to serious breakdown of law and order, pointing out that security challenges facing the country including terrorism, kidnappings, armed robbery and communal clashes among others called for information gathering and sharing among security agencies.
“We have heard what happened in Plateau, Bornu, Yobe, Bauchi and Niger states where some churches were bombed on Christmas day.
These actions are regrettable and should be condemned by all peace loving Nigerians. Unfortunately, the group that claimed responsibility for these acts went further to order the relocation of some sections of Nigerians from where they are to their home states”, he added.
Idoko further stated that the1999 Constitution guaranteed free movement of Nigerians in any part of the country irrespective of tribe and religion, explaining that no individual or group had the right to take laws into his hands.
Also speaking on the state of the nation yesterday, IYM, which ordered the 14 days prayer and fasting called on Igbos to remain calm, law abiding and refuse promoting by any group to take laws into their hands.
President of IYM, Elliot Uko told newsmen in Enugu that he was confident that the country would someday pull out of the myriad of challenges confronting it at the moment, stressing that being confrontational might not solve the problems.
He said, “we call on Ndigbo to remain peaceful, law abiding,” these are testy times that try men’s souls and we evaluated the situation in the country, the cold- blooded massacre by the bombers and more recently the fuel subsidy removal and attendant crisis; we the Igbo are a mighty nation inside Nigeria.
We have suffered so much in this country beginning from 1953 till date. Igbo blood has been wasted in so many circumstances in the last five decades on account of this country and at this time, we want to ask our people to remain steadfast, resolute and continue to believe in the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
Uko said the group was convinced beyond reasonable doubt that peace would soon return to the country, explaining that the 14 days of prayer and fasting would be used to commune with God on the peace of the country.