By Charles Kumolu & Ikechukwu Nnochiri
FRESH facts have emerged revealing the reasons state governors in the South East geo-political zone outlawed the Nnamdi Kanu-led Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, before the Federal Government acted in the same manner.
Saturday Vanguard exclusively gathered from one of the governors and another eminent leader of Igbo extraction that the action was taken to save the zone from being consumed by the attendant crisis generated by IPOB’s activities.
The governors’ action, it was learnt was also made inevitable by Kanu’s failure to heed the counsel of Igbo leaders against continuing with his separatist agitation.
Kanu was said to have turned a deaf ear to several entreaties by both political and non-political leaders of Igbo extraction, thereby creating an atmosphere of fear across the region.
Specifically, IPOB’s activities, Saturday Vanguard was told had already begun taking a toll on socio-economic activities across the South East and other areas where they operated.
In justifying their decision, the state governor said they were not unmindful of the marginalisation of the South East, adding that calling for secession was not the appropriate way to demand equity for Ndigbo.
In addition, he said had IPOB been allowed to carry on with the agitation, the South East zone would have paid dearly for it.
Kanu was causing tension increasingly
He said: “Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of IPOB was increasingly causing tension in Igbo land and had refused to adhere to all the advice given to him. Between Tuesday and Thursday, some lives had been lost. Who were those killed? They were Igbos. Who caused the fracas? Nnamdi Kanu and his members did. But we condemn the killings. We told him several times that Igboland will be better in a restructured Nigeria and that secession should not be on the card.
‘’He also insisted that there would be no election in Igboland. If there’s anarchy in Igboland, who will invest in the place? Business will crash. IPOB’s activities were already affecting businesses in Igboland.
They did not care. All they were talking about was Biafra. They were causing tension in the country and we did not want anything that would lead to another civil war. Igbos are yet to recover from the effects of the civil war that ended in 1970 and another group was almost dragging the country into another crisis.
“There is no doubt that Igbo are marginalised. That is why we insisted on a restructured Nigeria. We want peace to achieve a better Nigeria. But Kanu appeared to be working against peace. We would agree on things and he would go out to renege and be courting trouble.
Would any Yoruba man go against the plans of leaders of Afenifere or even OPC? Would an Housa man go against the decisions of Arewa Consultative Forum or elders forum?
Kanu worked against peace
“We proscribed IPOB because it was in the interest of lives, property and general development of the Igbo to do so. The way they have championed the Biafra agitation was not good for the Igboman. It was not going to lead to anything. It was rather exposing our people to strife, poverty, killings and it was diverting business from the area. We didn’t see how any foreign or local investors will do business in an area full of tension and a full-blown crisis. That is why we banned IPOB.”
Meanwhile, Kanu had in a move signaling the commencement of legal fireworks over the ban, yesterday, dragged the Federal Government to a Federal High Court in Abuja arguing that its ban was illegal
The group in a motion filed pursuant to Section 6(6) (1) of the 1999 constitution, as amended, said the order granted by Justice Abdul Kafarati was given without jurisdiction.
Order granted without jurisdiction
A statement by Kanu’s lawyer, Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor said his client was not given a fair hearing in the ex-parte motion, adding that the decision to proscribe IPOB in line with the ex-parte motion was wrong.
The motion dated September 21, 2017, averred that IPOB was a non-violent organisation.
However, Ohanaeze Youth Council, OYC, commended the South East governors for outlawing IPOB, saying the action saved a major national catastrophe.
It also warned that proscribing IPOB was a temporary measure, adding that if the causes of the agitation were not addressed, another group may emerge.
A statement by OYC President, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro; Deputy National President, Dr. Arthur Obiora; and Secretary- General, Mazi Okwu Nnabuike, said it was not averse to any action that would end the marginalization of Ndigbo in Nigeria.
Release all Biafra detainees
The statement reads:”We are saddened by the level of confrontation between the Nigerian Army and the Biafra agitators and the consequent death of many Igbo youths in the process. We are also sad over the reported death of a policeman during this unfortunate but avoidable incident.
“We are equally aware that the South East Governors were also in discussion with the agitators before the military launched its action.
“However, considering the level of destruction and ruin that could have erupted, we applaud the South East governors for rising to the occasion. It was indeed the need of the moment. We cannot afford to continue to lose the life of our people, in addition to over three million killed during the Civil War.
“To this end, we call on the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government to urgently match action with words by commencing a genuine process of restructuring this country and suspension of Python Dance. We call for the release all Biafra detainees.”
Saturday Vanguard recalls that Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, Ohaneze President Nnia Nwodo and some other Igbo leaders met with the governors of the South East region and decided that it was time they put an end to the activities of IPOB.
The Nigerian Army was to declare them a terrorist group same day. A court in Abuja later in the week, granted the prayers of the Attorney General of the Federation in proscribing the body.
Kanu did not attend the meeting on the grounds that it was not safe for him to embark on the trip to Enugu where the meeting held.