•As IPoB orders sit-at-home, bans church services on May 30
•Seek advice from experts —Iroegbu
•I never said IPoB was responsible for killings in S-East —Nwodo
By Anayo Okoli, Chidi Nkwopara & Ikechukwu Odu
AS Ohanaeze Ndigbo embarks on its peace and reconciliation assignment as recently directed by the South East Governors and Igbo leaders, it has invited members of the Eastern Security Network, ESN, and Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, to be part of the peace process.
Ohanaeze also invited Biafra National Guard, BNG, Biafran Zionists Movement, BZM, and other organizations and associations operating in the zone and Igbo land in general, saying it wants to achieve total peace and harmony in Igbo land.
This came as the Indigenous People of Biafra has ordered protest and a sit-at-home on May 30. It also banned church services on that day in Biafraland, adding that the protest would hold in 100 countries where IPOB members and sympathisers reside.
In a related development, South East Governors have been urged to seek advice from particularly, security experts, following the growing level of sophisticated insecurity in the land.
The Ohanaeze Reconciliation Committee, comprised of over 50 notable Igbo drawn from the National Assembly, serving Ministers, prominent traditional rulers, clergies, technocrats and businessmen was inaugurated last week at the Ohanaeze headquarters in Enugu.
The extension of invitation to the groups was part of the resolutions of the committee during its inaugural meeting. It was learned that IPOB was excluded because of the terrorist toga the federal government still hangs on it.
The committee, it was further learned has already embarked on wide consultations with stakeholders and leaders across the South East region, the nation at large and the Diaspora.
The members have vowed to reach out to everyone as “there is no substitute for peace”, insisting that the “ultimate objective of the exercise is to ensure peace, development, security and safety of Ndigbo wherever they are particularly in their homeland”.
The driver of the peace process, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has therefore urged Ndigbo everywhere to make “every effort and contributions necessary to guarantee peace and security in Igboland”, urging them to “send any information, suggestions, petitions, and documents that would facilitate the work of the committee to Ohanaeze National Secretariat, Enugu, through the Committee Secretary , Peter Aneke.
IPOB orders sit-at-home, bans church services
on May 30
In a statement yesterday, IPOB’s Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful said the sit-at-home was to honour its fallen heroes and heroines, adding that it would be observed in markets, churches, parks, airports and seaports within and outside the region and beyond.
The IPOB publicist said there would be no procession, protest nor church services anywhere in the zone, urging its members to stay indoors throughout the day.
The statement read in part: “We, the global family of the Indigenous People of Biafra wish to announce to the public and Biafrans both home and abroad that the annual anniversary of our fallen heroes and heroines will be on Sunday, 30th of May, 2021.
“As usual, there will be a total lockdown of the entire Biafra land on that day.
“There will be sit-at-home across Biafraland, Lagos, Abuja as well as northern towns with reasonable Biafran population.
“The sit-at-home order is also to be observed in all the markets within and outside Biafra land where our people do their businesses. It shall also be observed by Diasporan Biafrans in the over 100 countries where the IPOB family is present.
“We equally request our fellow comrades in Yoruba, Middle Belt and other Christians living in the far North to solidarise with us in the event as we honour all those who have paid the supreme price in our struggle for total freedom.
“All Biafrans living overseas must hold rallies in their respective countries of abode in honour of our fallen heroes and heroines including the gallant Imo State Eastern Security Network commander, Ikonso and his men who were murdered by the Nigeria security agents.
“The rallies will also show the outside world of our resolve and preparedness to leave Nigeria. We equally advise our Diasporan people to ensure they get the written approval of their host countries before embarking on the rallies.
“30th of May every year is very dear to Biafrans because it was the date our Hero, Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, declared our resistance to the genocidal attacks by Nigeria and Fulani which culminated into the 30-month civil war from 1967 to 1970.
“We shall always remember all those who died in the course of the war and our march to freedom.
“Consequently, there will be no movement on the roads throughout Biafraland; no banking or financial services in our territory; no commercial activities of any kind.”
Seek advice from experts —Iroegbu
The retired Nigeria’s National Director of Army Chaplains and a priest of the Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri, Brigadier General Charles Iroegbu, stated this while fielding questions on a number of national issues.
Iroegbu equally expressed fear that the formation of regional security outfits may not work as envisaged, because there is nothing on ground to show that the governors have good advisers on the issue.
His words: “I expected that with the level of insecurity in the land, the South East Governors for instance, would have known the urgent need to seek security advice, particularly from security experts within the region.
“In Imo State alone, we have seven to eight retired Major Generals who have held high ranking offices, both local and international. These are eminent senior citizens, loaded with experience on how to tackle security problems. Unfortunately, nobody seems to factor their wisdom in solving security problems.”
Making special reference to the formation of regional security outfits, Iroegbu said he was not too sure that creating these types of security outfits was the way out of the nagging problem.
Iroegbu said: “If you ask me, I will tell you that having these types of different security outfits is not the way out. It may turn around to render the nation more ineffective.
“Again, that will be another way of announcing to the entire world, the failure and collapse of a nation by those saddled with the task of building and making it strong.”
He recalled with grief that Boko Haram started like a group of people used by politicians to advance their pecuniary and political interests.
“Those boys were also empowered and gradually, they became something else. So, forming such groups, I am sorry saying this, might lead to anarchy. It is not just enough forming such groups, you will also have the capacity and the structural template to checkmate their actions and conduct”, Brig-Gen Iroegbu said.
I never said IPoB was responsible for killings in S-East —Nwodo
Meantime, the former President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, has distanced himself from a social media report alleging that he fingered members of the Indigeneous People of Biafra, IPoB, as being responsible for the ongoing killings in South East region.
Nwodo who described the report as “provocative,” said the originator wanted to put him on collision course with IPoB, adding that he never indicated interest to run for presidency in 2023.
He also said that he had always shared the pains of the IPoB who are fighting against the marginalisation of the Igbo in the scheme of things in Nigeria.
Part of the statement read: “It has come to my notice that a news item is being peddled in social media alleging that I have been vindicated on my statement in 2019 that IPOB was responsible for the killings in the South East and that herdsmen were innocent of the killings.
“The puerile, mendacious and provocative story also credited me with saying that even the recent killings in Ebonyi State were carried out by IPOB and and wouldn’t be cowed by IPOB and that any attack on my property would attract a reprisal attack from me on Afara ukwu.
“This is a terrible lie from the pit of hell and intended not just to tarnish my image but to set me on collision course with IPOB. Let me state categorically that I have not stated or given anybody the impression that I was interested in the 2023 presidential race, neither does my body language suggest it.
“Furthermore, I couldn’t have indicted IPOB on killings in the South East when I have always held the view that they are my children and share in their grievances arising from the overt marginalisation of the Igbo in the country.
“In my inaugural speech as President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in 2017, and in my address at Chattam House in London, I had stated clearly and firmly that the struggle of IPOB is my struggle except that we differ in modalities because while they sought outright independence for Biafra, Ohanaeze Ndigbo stood for the restructuring of the nation in a united Nigeria.
“It is also instructive that in the twilight of my service to Ohanaeze Ndigbo, we had reached an understanding to work in concert with IPOB to achieve the desired objective for Ndigbo. Where and when did I fall out with IPOB to make a public statement accusing them of any crime or denouncing their activities ?
“Moreover, it is on record that since I left as President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, I have deliberately shied away from making any public statement in order not to distort public view as to who speaks for Ndigbo after my exit.
“The only public speech I have made since then was recently on the day of tributes in honour of the deceased Afenifere spokesman, Yinka Odumakin. The obvious conclusion from the ill-conceived story is that it was intended to indict me and justify an attack on me. This mischief is as condemnable as it is indecent and should be roundly condemned by all decent minds. Nobody gains anything from unjustifiably engaging in a smear campaign on an innocent person.”