…Army denies posting only Northern Commanders to quell tensions in S’East
…Unknown gunmen in S’East have chosen wrong target —Nwodo
…Gunmen kill five, set vigilance office, vehicle ablaze in Anambra
By Anayo Okoli, Regional Editor, South-East, Vincent Ujumadu, Kingsley Omonobi & Ikechukwu Odu
The Nigerian Army and the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, yesterday, disagreed over the alleged deployment of northern commanders to south-east and south-south with the Igbo group frowning at the shoot-at-sight order given to Nigerian soldiers on Igbo youths.
Ohanaeze warned that Nigerian government should learn a lesson from history by not fighting an unwinnable war against nationalism, advising the Buhari- led government to “seek possible peaceful options that are the only solution that guarantees national unity and peaceful coexistence”.
However, the Nigerian Army has denied the allegation even as it reiterated that postings in the force are routine exercises and are based on professional competences of its officers and personnel, adding that the Army does not train, deploy or operate along ethnic, religious, tribal or regional divides.
In a related development, the former national chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, yesterday, said that unknown gunmen killing policemen and vandalizing their facilities in the South East region have chosen a wrong target.
Ohanaeze Ndigbo in its statement noted that “the dream of Nigerian unity is receding and fading fast with violence, crises and conflicts”.
In a statement by its spokesman, Alex Ogbonnia, the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Prof. George Obiozor was quoted as being “unequivocal that the current problems confronting Nigeria, example, ethnic militia, agitation for secession, insurgency, etc, are products of sustained orchestrated injustice in governance”.
According to the statement: “The attention of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide has been drawn to the the pattern of deployment of northern military officers to the South-East which lends credence to the above report. An online medium revealed that in preparation for its shoot-at-sight order, the Nigerian army has posted Northern Muslims as commanders over its operations and brigades in Anambra, Imo, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Enugu, Benue, Edo, Delta and Rivers States.
“In Anambra State, the Cantonment Commandant of the 302 Artillery Regiment, Onitsha, is Col. Abdulsalam Abubakar Sambo, a Hausa-Fulani Muslim; while in Imo State, the Brigade Commander of 34 Brigade, Obinze, is Brig Gen Ibrahim Tukura, another northerner. In Abia State, the Brigade Commander of 14 Brigade, Ohafia, is Brig General M. Ibrahim, still, a northerner; while in Akwa Ibom State, the Brigade Commander of 2 Brigade, Uyo, is Brig Gen Faruk Mijinyawa, another northerner. This is truly worrisome!
“The Shoot at Sight Order given to the Nigerian soldiers on how to engage the Igbo youths in the oncoming week is worrisome. The Sahara Reporters, May 8, elaborated on the new secret plan which by the grace of God has come to the public domain.
“The report further revealed that the exercise will commence from Orlu in Imo State, South East Nigeria. This is very disturbing.
“The President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Ambassador Prof. George Obiozor, an erudite scholar, seasoned diplomat with diverse experience in governments, has admonished the Nigerian government to “learn a lesson from history by not fighting an unwinnable war against nationalism but seek possible peaceful options that are the only solution that guarantees national unity and peaceful coexistence.
“Obiozor lamented that subnational consciousness or ethno-centric nationalism which is a dangerous form of nationalism to national unity has taken over Nigeria. The dream of Nigeria unity is receding and fading fast with violence, crises and conflicts.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo is unequivocal that the current problems confronting Nigeria, example, ethnic militia, agitation for secession, insurgency, etc, are products of sustained orchestrated injustice in governance. For instance, Senator Shehu Sani, the former senator for Kaduna Central, vehemently decried that the Igbo have been systematically marginalised since the civil war.
“Speaking in Kaduna at a meeting organised by the Association of Eze-Ndigbo in the Diaspora on Saturday, May 8, 2021, Sani described the marginalisation as a collective punishment.There has been a systemic exclusion and marginalisation of your people, stemming from the historical Biafra war. This is a collective punishment”, he declared.
“Every right thinking Nigerian, who loves the corporate existence of Nigeria, should align with Shehu Sani’s position. The problem with Nigeria in general and the Igbo in particular is located in injustice and the simple solution lays in manifest dialogue, equity and justice. Ohanaeze Ndigbo warns that Shoot-at- Sight Order to soldiers on Igbo youth is a call for another pogrom and genocide.Ohanaeze asks the federal government to refrain from the use of force in resolving the present national crises.
“History shows that military and violent means to solve the national question is bound to fail as it leads to further national fractionalization, anarchy and eventual or inevitable disintegration, as in all empires or multi-national states or countries”.
Army denies allegations
Director of Army Public Relations, Brig Gen Mohammed Yerima who denied the allegation said officers are posted to command units based on their capability and taking into consideration their posting history.
The statement was titled, “Re: Nigerian Army Shuns Southern Officers, Deploy Northern Commanders to Quell Tension in South East”.
It read: “The attention of the Nigerian Army (NA) has been drawn to an online publication with the above title.
“Ordinarily, the NA would have ignored this illogical narrative by the online media but for the good of members of the public.
“The NA condemns this report targeted at steering discord and disunity among peace loving Nigerians who have refused to be drawn into supporting the senseless attacks on security apparatus in the South East and South – South geo-political zones of the country.
“The NA being a national body does not promote or post its personnel along ethnic or religious lines.
“Postings in the NA are routine exercises and are based on professional competences not as portrayed by the baseless publication.
“For the records, let it be clear in everyone’s mind that the NA does not train, deploy or operate along ethnic, religious, tribal or regional divides.
“Senior officers are posted to command units based on their capability and competence taking into consideration their posting history.
“Furthermore, Officers are the most frequently posted personnel of the NA.
“However, because of the bias and seed of discord that the author of the report wanted to sow, it did not allow him to do a thorough background check of his report.
“Part of the poorly scripted article states that NA’s deployment is based on ethical line.
“To put the record straight, while it is true that the General Officer Commanding 82 Division Enugu, Major General Taoreed Lagbaja is from South West, the Commander 34 Brigade Owerri, Brigadier General Raymond Utsaha is from the North Central.
“Major General Gold Chibuisi is of the South East extraction and is also the General Officer Commanding 2 Division Ibadan which is the largest in number of states under command including 4 Brigades in Edo State.
“Equally, Brigadier General Farouk Mijinyawa was never the Commander of 16 Brigade as misrepresented by the writer.
“It is therefore clear that the concocted story lacks everything in terms of credibility and exists only in the pigment of the author’s imagination.
“The NA urges the general public to know that in the past months, several subversive elements have attempted to discredit the formidable security network in the South East and the NA in line with her constitutional roles of aiding the civil authority deployed officers and men to checkmate the activities of these bad elements who are bent on wreaking havoc in the region.
“Furthermore, the NA would like to request all peace loving Nigerians to disregard the content of the said article in its entirety as it lacks common logic.
“The NA under the able leadership of the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru remains committed to the defence of the territorial integrity of Nigeria as well as protecting lives and properties of all citizens and residents in Nigeria.
“The NA further solicits for the continuous support of all patriotic Nigerians in stamping out activities of criminals including subversive and divisive elements for a peaceful and prosperous Nigeria.”
Unknown gunmen in S’East have chosen wrong target —Nwodo
The former national chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, who said that the perpetrators of violence are making the region insecure by such acts, charged those behind the unholy activities to rechannel their efforts towards fighting gun-wielding herdsmen killing farmers and destroying crops in South East.
He, however, commended the governors of the zone for asking the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, to reconcile all the aggrieved parties in the region, adding that acts of vandalism is not the best approach towards the actualization of Biafra.
He said “I don’t understand these unknown gunmen killing policemen in South East. By the time they distabilize police formations in the zone, nobody would be safe anymore. If policemen have become their number one target, that means everybody in the zone is insecured. Policemen securing us are human beings and wouldn’t want to lose their lives. Those behind the attacks have chosen a very wrong target.
“I believe the South East Governors’ Forum has done the right thing by asking Ohanaeze Ndigbo to reconcile every aggrieved person in the zone. Before they reached that decision, some of us have come to that conclusion and have started our efforts with those who can reach out to IPoB and MASSoB leadership. We have made efforts to make their leadership understand that this is not the best way to actualise Biafra.
“There are better ways to fight this cause. Let’s go to the bush and flush out criminal and gun-wielding herdsmen killing farmers and destroying crops in South East. The herdsmen are equally rapping our women. Killing policemen and vandalizing their facilities in our zone is not our problem now.”
Gunmen kill five, set vigilance office, vehicle ablaze in Anambra
Meantime, five persons were feared dead when unidentified gunmen attacked Ozubulu community in Ekwusigo local government area of Anambra State last night.
The office of the local Vigilance outfit in the area and a vehicle were also set ablaze by the gunmen.
Among those killed included a business man who hailed from the community, while the identity of the other casualties could not be immediately ascertained.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Mr.. Ikenga Tochukwu, who confirmed the incident said however that he had not been briefed on the number of casualties.
“Yes, there was an attack in Ozubulu, but not the police station. Rather, it was the Vigilante office in the area.
“They came in Sienna vehicles and motorcycles and attacked the office. Security operatives have been deployed to the area and normalcy has been restored, ” PPRO said
According to him, the number of the gunmen must be large, adding that they repeatedly shot in the air thereby scaring the residents.