WE join millions of well-meaning and peace-loving Nigerians to condemn in very strong terms the assault by a mob reportedly made up of members of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, on former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, in Nuremberg, Germany over the weekend.
Ekweremadu had honoured an invitation to the Second Annual Cultural Festival organised by the Igbo community, but some members of the IPOB accosted and assaulted him, tearing his clothes.
The mob complained of bad leadership, killings and the menace of armed herdsmen, saying Ekweremadu and some other leaders were not welcome to Igbo gatherings outside Nigeria.
IPOB has been known to routinely disrupt public events, including church services in the East and the Diaspora in a manner that belies their claim of non-violent agitation for Biafra independence. Ekweremadu joins a growing list of political leaders who have been attacked by mobs from their cultural backgrounds at public events.
These include Senator Anthony Adefuye who was stripped naked by angry youths in Lagos during the burial of Chief MKO Abiola in July 1998. Also, the late Ibadan billionaire, Alhaji Arisekola-Alao, was once assaulted by students at the University of Ibadan because of his alleged closeness to the late General Sani Abacha, while Senator Kabiru Gaya was in May 2016 mobbed and his country home in Gaya, Kano State burnt down by angry youths over alleged poor representation.
We are totally opposed to mob or jungle justice in any form because we are a society governed by the rule of law. There are legitimate and effective ways of registering grievances.
The IPOB assault on Ekweremadu took matters beyond the shores of this country and exposed the Igbo nation and Nigeria at large to ridicule. That is unfortunate.
However, this misplaced aggression is a wake-up call on elected and appointed leaders to the fact that the people are running out of patience with poor quality leadership that pervades all levels of governance in Nigeria. Nigerians are getting frustrated over endemic corruption, insecurity, mass unemployment and now the influx of marauding herdsmen into local communities and highways spreading fear and terror.
Most importantly, these elected politicians and socio-cultural leaders who are expected to speak up for the people capitalise on their exalted offices to pursue selfish interests, thus sabotaging the common good. This could be a timely warning that leaders who will not align themselves with the common interests of their people will no longer have it easy.
Leadership must rediscover the responsibility that is attached to their exalted positions which are held in trust on the people’s behalf.
Much as we detest these public assaults we hope it will bring leaders back to the realisation that they are accountable to the people.