…Denies meeting with British High Commissioner for IPOB leader’s ordeals
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige has warned the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) to stop linking him to the rearrest of their leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
Ngige, who denied having a hand in the IPOB leader’s ordeals, said he was too engaged with his duties as the Chief Labour Officer of the country and hence, lacks the time to meddle into security and diplomatic matters, which clearly fall within the mandate of the Nigerian Security and National Intelligence Agencies.
A statement issued by Senator Ngige’s media office in Abuja, weekend, described the statement by the IPOB spokesman, one Emma Powerful, attempting to link the Minister with the arrest of Mazi Kanu as deceitful, mischievous, malicious and wicked, adding that both IPOB and the IPOB spokesman, know him very well as a man who calls “a spade a spade” and has no room for equivocation or speaking from both sides of the mouth since his days as Governor in Anambra State.
The statement read in part, “The attention of the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige (OON) has been drawn to series of fictitious reports in the social media linking him to the arrest of the leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
“The first of such reports alleged that Senator Ngige and the Senate Chief Whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu visited the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mrs Catriona Laing, to discuss the affairs of IPOB, as supporters of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“As if this was not enough, the same merchants of disinformation have besieged the social media and this time, the Sahara Reporters, with another fabricated, nauseating and vexatious report, alleging that Sen. Ngige, Governor Willie Obiano, Governor Nyesom Wike and Sir Emeka Offor, conspired and betrayed Nnamdi Kanu and assisted in his arrest.
“Going through the news item, whereas they alleged that Governors Obiano and Wike funded the operation and that Sir Emeka Offor offered to set up a parallel Radio Biafra, no role was ascribed to the Honourable Minister at all.
“So, this so-called IPOB intelligence Unit-M Branch report is nothing but massive tissues of lies from the pit of hell, as it concerns the Minister.
“Consequently, we wish to use this medium to set the records straight for the benefit of unsuspecting members of the public who may have been deceived by the wicked lies being circulated in the social media by unscrupulous and mischievous characters whose intent is to malign the person of the Honourable Minister and through that, put him in disrepute.
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“Firstly, Ngige did not at any time pay a visit to the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, to discuss the affairs of IPOB. It happened that on May 13, 2021, the Minister was returning from an official meeting of the Economic Sustainability Committee held in the Presidential Villa and passing by, paid a courtesy visit to his brother and friend, the Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu whose home is within the vicinity of the Villa Pilot Gate.
“Coincidentally, Kalu had some guests in his house at the same time. Sen. Kalu introduced his guests, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria and her officials and the Minister exchanged pleasantries with them, stayed briefly and left after a group photograph.
“During this ‘chance encounter’, there was never a time the affairs of the proscribed IPOB came up. Senator Kalu had also debunked this report in an earlier statement through his media aide, stating this same account.
“Mischievously, it was this photograph that had been earlier published in the Sun Newspapers that these evil minded persons are now circulating in order to get even with the Minister and Senator Kalu.
“Secondly, the report by IPOB, posted in Sahara Reporters, alleging that Ngige, Willie Obiano, Nyesom Wike and Emeka Offor conspired and betrayed Nnamdi Kanu is a figment of the imagination of the writers and the spokesman of the IPOB, Mr. Emma Powerful and his likes who thrive in mischief, brainwashing and deceit.
“Everybody knows that the Labour Ministry is one of the busiest Ministries in the country today because of the numerous industrial disputes arising from the deleterious effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Economy and by extension, on the earning powers of Employees and Employers, necessitating continued bickering and re-negotiations of Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) all over the public and private sectors.
“Ngige is occupied, involved and engrossed with his duties as the Labour and Employment Minister, member of Federal Cabinet Committee for Economic Recovery and member of the Economic Sustainability Committee constituted by President Muhammadu Buhari, which is headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, with the mandate to tackle the challenges and fallouts of COVID-19 and post COVID-19 era.
“Most recently, he was appointed as a member of the National Steering Committee (NSC) of the National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy (NPRGS) to work assiduously to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.
“All these are besides other demanding engagements of the Minister of Labour and Employment, playing supervisory role over several federal parastatals under his Ministry. On these assignments, the Minister is putting all his energy and wealth of experience in order not to disappoint all Nigerians.
“It is therefore unthinkable that somebody with grey matter in his brain, except if he is hallucinating like the IPOB spokesman, could accuse a very busy Minister like Senator Ngige of being part of a ‘conspiracy’ for the arrest of Nnamdi Kanu.
“The Minister, being somebody with long standing experience in the public service, knows the bounds of his office and does not have the time to meddle into Foreign Affairs of Extradition and security matters that clearly fall within the mandate of the Nigerian Diplomatic Missions, national intelligence agencies.
“Ngige is neither the Minister of Police Affairs, Justice, Foreign Affairs nor the National Security Adviser, to start discussing issues of extradition or arrest of a fugitive outside Nigeria’s territory, which are clearly outside his mandate.”
The statement added, “If these false reports are targeted at coaxing Ngige into lending his voice to the discordant voices condemning or hailing Nnamdi Kanu’s arrest or calling for his unconditional release, then the propagators have failed because he has long decided not to make any comment for or against Kanu as he is already standing trial in a competent court of law for treasonable felony.
“Ngige is somebody who believes in the Rule of Law and will rather allow the law to take its course than get involved in the discussion of any issue which neither adds nor subtract any value to the trial process.
“Hence, the Minister has not and will not at this time of the country’s history, waste his precious time discussing such matters or any issue pertaining to IPOB
“The minister’s earlier views on the ill-advised violent secessionist agitations are well known and can be seen online in his interview with Channels Television aired on Monday June 14, 2021.
“He is a patriot and firm believer in a united and indivisible Nigeria based on Justice, Equity and Fair-play. His position has not changed and is unlikely to change in the near or distant future. He saw and participated in the war and up till today, describes war as ‘evil’ and an ‘ill wind’ that blows no side any good.”