By Anayo Okoli
OHANAEZE Ndigbo has raised alarm over the alleged massive arrest of Igbo youths by the Nigerian army and taken to unknown destinations.
Ohanaeze said the mass arrest is going on in Ohaji and Oguta Communities of Imo State by military personnel believed to be from 34 Artillery Brigade, Owerri.
The arrested youths were alleged to be members of Eastern Security Network, ESN, according to the apex Igbo group.
Ohanaeze wondered why the army were arresting Igbo youths who bear no arms and allow Fulani herdsmen to move around with AK 47 riffles.
They called on the Chief of army staff to immediately stop the mass arrests.
The Professor George Obiozor led Ohanaeze in a statement signed by its spokesman, Alex Ogbonnia said: “The attention of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide has been drawn to ongoing massive arrests of Igbo youths by the Nigerian Army.
The report indicates that “the military personnel, suspected to be led by the 34 Artillery Brigade, Owerri since Sunday have been arresting male residents and youths, particularly in Oguta and Ohaji communities and clamping them into vans and taken to unknown destinations”.
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“The report adds that the army are “busy, carrying out raids, discreet searches and arrests of youths and residents who are suspected to be linked to the Indigenous People of Biafra and its security arm, the Eastern Security Network”.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Ohanaeze Ndigbo led by Ambassador Prof. George Obiozor is unequivocal about the use of firearms by unauthorized persons, bodies or groups. Democracy, all over the world vests the absolute authority for the legitimate use of force in government. We had admonished that the exclusive indulgence of AK 47 to the Fulani herdsmen as canvassed by Governor Bala Mohammed is antithetical to the ethos of a decent society.
“For the armed forces to arrest the Igbo youths without evidence of arms, means of violence or crime is cowardly, uncivilized and mostly unacceptable to Ohanaeze Ndigbo. It runs contrary to every sense of natural justice and rights of citizenship for the army to invade some Igbo communities in search of youths; most of whom are brilliant university graduates whose society has denied employment and sense of belonging. This is adding salt to festering injury.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo does not just wax lyrical about Igbo youths of all categories or dispositions.
“We condemn crime irrespective of the source. On the other hand, we stand on a firm wicket that it is ruthless to arrest any Igbo in the guise of membership of a terrorist organization unless there is sufficient evidence of crime or unlawful possession of firearms.
“We call on the Chief of Army Staff, Major General Ibrahim Attahiru to urgently stop the wave of arrests before it gives impetus to the proposal by the United Kingdom Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to offer asylum to person who actively and openly supports IPOB and likely to be at risk of arrest or detention, and ill-treatment which is likely to amount to persecution”.