By Chioma Gabriel, Vincent Ujumadu, Anayo Okoli, Samuel Oyadongha, Festus Ahon & Ugochukwu Alaribe
ABUJA— Senators from South-East, Tuesday, met with President Muhammadu Buhari over the tension generated in the region as a result of the activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
This came as the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, said the restructuring of Nigeria is ripe now more than ever before because all indicators point to it, adding that terrorist tag on IPOB is unfair and discrimatory.
This is even as an Aba North magistrate’s court has remanded 14 suspected members of IPOB in Aba Prisons, for alleged terrorism, murder and arson.
S-East Senators meet with Buhari
Led by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, the Senators said the South East zone was shortchanged by the current Federal Government.
Speaking with State House Correspondents after the meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Ekweremadu said they had a fruitful discussion with the president over pressing issues affecting the South-East.
The Deputy Senate President stressed that the South-East is of the opinion that dialogue remains the best bet in addressing some of the issues affecting the region.
According to him, “for us from the South-East, we believe that dialogue is better than any other form of engagement. So, we decided to visit the President and present to him some of the concerns of the South-East, including the issues of roads, general infrastructure, rail, airports and others.
“We also discussed the issue of security with him and of course, the issue of IPOB. We had a good conversation and he promised to look into the issues.”
Also addressing newsmen,Chairman, South-East Senate Caucus, Eyinnaya Abaribe, maintained that the region remained the most shortchanged in the country.
Abaribe said: “We had a fruitful discussion with the President. He has promised us that he is going to look into the problems of South-East.
“We know that there are problems everywhere but we also believe that South-East is the zone that is far much shortchanged at this time than other zones.”
Nigeria ripe for restructuring now— Nwodo
Nwodo who delivered a lecture at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House, London, yesterday, said in answer to a question from the chairman of the occasion and the Editor of African Business magazine, Mr Lanre Akinola, on the imperatives of the restructuring now that never in the history of Nigeria has there been unanimity for the reshaping of the country as it is now.
According to Nwodo, the entire Southern Nigeria and parts of the Middle Belt in the north are unanimous for the restructuring of the country.
He also said the disenchantment in the country over the existing structure is such that it would be gloomy if the desires of majority of the people are not met or continue to be deliberately ignored.
Terrorist tag on IPOB unfair, discriminatory
The Ohanaeze leader also berated the Federal Government for declaring IPOB as a terrorist organisation when their activities do not merit them such status, especially when the same government overlooked the activities of more dangerous armed militant groups like Fulani herdsmen whom they merely branded criminals.
“The declaration of IPOB as a terrorist organisation is in my view hurried, unfair, and not in conformity with the intendment of the law.
“Whereas I am not completely in agreement with some of the methods of IPOB like its inappropriate and divisive broadcast, the uncontested evidence given by the Attorney-General of the Federation in an interlocutory action claiming that IPOB attempted and/or actually snatched guns from law enforcement agents are, if proven, merely criminal offences.
“They do not constitute enough evidence to meet international law definitions of a terrorist organisation. Happily, the United States Embassy in Nigeria, only three days ago, shared this conclusion and asserted that the United States Government does not recognise IPOB as a terrorist organisation.”
Earlier in his paper entitled: “Restructuring Nigeria: Decentralisation for National Cohesion” Nwodo took a historical look at Nigeria’s political journey and concluded that the structure in operation now has failed because it’s not created by Nigerian people.
“Our present constitution is not autochthonous. It was not written by the people of Nigeria. It was not approved in a national referendum. In jurisprudence, its effectiveness will score a very low grade on account of its unacceptability. Regrettably, it continues to hold sway and begins with a false proclamation, ‘We, the People of Nigeria…”
He noted that the restructuring of Nigeria into smaller and independent federations units and the devolution of powers to these federating units to control exclusively their human capital development, mineral resources, agriculture, and power (albeit with an obligation to contribute to the Federal Government) is the only way to salvage our fledging economy.
Nwodo expressed regret that “those campaigning against restructuring in Nigeria have painted an unfortunate and untrue picture that those of us in support of restructuring are doing so in order to deny the Northern states who have not yet any proven oil reserves of the ability to survive. This is unfortunate.”
Nwodo finally charged President Buhari to rise to the challenge and lead the process of restructuring this country.
Court remands 14 suspected IPOB members in Aba prisons
The 14 suspects, Anthony Nnamani, Chima Chukwumere, Kingsley Sunday, Michael Onyediakchi, Eze Okereke, Christian Sylvester, Etim Effiong, Emmanuel Onwukwe, Ndubuisi Ukoha, Ogbonna Nwaji, Salvation Stephen, Chizoba Nwosu, Ejike Elom and Kelechi Anusie, were arraigned on an eight-count charge, which included murder of ASP Cyril Nwosu, burning of Ariaria Police station and exhibit vehicles as well as theft of pump action rifle belonging to the Police.
According to charge No /MAN/ 135C/2007, the alleged offences are punishable under sections 62, 64, 71, 319 (I), 324, 443(a), 443, 516(a) of the criminal code cap 80, volume III laws of Abia state of Nigeria.
Prosecuting counsel, ASP Nnamdi Ogbonna, held that the court has jurisdiction to make order on the matter and pleaded with the court to commence trial.
Counsel for 1st, 2nd, and 5th accused, Charles Onuchukwu , including those standing for the other accused, raised preliminary objection that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear some of the offences such as murder on which the accused were arraigned, adding that holden charge was unknown to law.
After listening to the argument of the counsel, Presiding Magistrate, Ogbonna Adiele, directed the Police to submit the case file to Director of Public Prosecution, DPP, and adjourned till October 4, 2017, for report on compliance.
We don’t believe in IPOB, its activities—Ngwa
Also, yesterday, Ngwa indigenes of Abia State said they have rejected IPOB and its activities, adding the group was not genuinely championing the Igbo interest.
According to a statement by Ezeukwu Executive Council and Nzuko Ukwu Ngwaukwu General Assembly of Ngwaukwu Ancestral Kingdom, the group alleged that IPOB was being used by “a group of politicians to cause trouble and unleash their devilish plots on Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, Ngwa and Ukwa people.”
The statement, which was signed by Nze Joe Nwogu, Traditional Prime Minister and Samuel Azumara, Palace Secretary, accused IPOB of ventilating Igbo issues in a very wrong way.
Ohanaeze cancels Igbo day celebration in Bayelsa
Meantime, Ohanaeze Ndigbo has ordered the cancellation of the 2017 Igbo day celebration in Bayelsa State.
It cited the need to use the occasion to stay indoors and pray for peace and unity in Nigeria.
According to the group, though the Igbo indigenes in the state cannot pretend over the incidence of violence and killings in the Eastern states over the agitations by some members of IPOB, the decision to cancel the celebration in Bayelsa was to mourn those that were killed in Aba.
President of the Bayelsa State chapter of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Maurice Amaku, while briefing newsmen in Yenagoa, said the decision was borne out of a collective agreement reached by the leaders and members of the Igbo community in the state.
America is right, IPOB not a terrorist group —Onuesoke
In a related development, a former Delta State governorship aspirant under the platform of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Sunny Onuesoke, has lashed out at Senator Shehu Sani, holding that IPOB is not terrorist group.
Reacting to a recent media report credited to Senator Sani, Onuesoke in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Stanley Efe, said the Senator was being sectional and sentimental on the issue of terrorist groups in Nigeria, adding that America was “right to say IPOB is not a terrorist group.”
IPOB to UN, UK: Tell Nigeria to produce Nnamdi Kanu
Similarly, IPOB, yesterday, called on the United Nations, UN, Mission in Nigeria and the government of the United Kingdom, UK, to prevail on the Nigerian government to produce its leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, who, it alleged, has been missing since the attack on his house in Umuahia penultimate week.
IPOB Media and Publicity Secretary, Comrade Emma Powerful, said in a statement that Kanu, who incidentally holds British citizenship, had not been seen since a detachment of soldiers stormed his residence September 14, 2017.
The statement said: “Ever since the brutal assault that left 28 persons dead inside his compound, including two of his cousins, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, along with his parents, Eze Sir Israel Kanu, and Ugoeze Sally Nmeme Kanu, has not been seen.”