By Luminous Jannamike, Abuja

IGBO Elders Consultative Forum, under the leadership of former Anambra governor Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, has urged Southeast residents to reject the five-day sit-at-home declared by Finland-based Simon Ekpa, a protege of detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu. They described Ekpa’s draconian order as the height of insensitivity to the plight of the people; insisting that it must never be observed nor allowed to stand. 

Ezeife, who briefed journalists in Abuja on Thursday night, said the Forum met, discussed and made critical analysis of some national issues and questions that have far reaching consequences on the peace, unity, stability and corporate existence of Nigeria in general, and Igbo land in particular including EKpa’s sit-at –home order in the South East.

According to him, “The Igbo Elders Consultative Forum has always believed that some faceless individuals in government and other unpatriotic elements who do not wish ndi Igbo well, and have been working hard with evil collaborators to truncate the scheduled 2023 General Elections in the South East are behind the purported sit-at-home order in the zone.

“The scheduled February, 2023 Presidential election will be historic in Nigeria because we are optimistic that patriotic and progressive Nigerians will elect Mr Peter Obi of the Labour Party as the next President of this country in a free, fair and credible election; hence evil and wicked elements must never be allowed to use the purported sit-at-home order to truncate next year general election.”

In the same vein, Secretary of the Forum, Prof. Charles Nwekeaku, maintained that it was the firm belief of Igbo elders that the release of Nnamdi Kanu is central to peace process initiatives in the South East, as well as the conduct of a free, fair and credible election in the zone next year.

“The moment Mr Kanu is released; no person will hide under IPOB and similar organizations to impose any draconian sit-at-home order on our people. We still ask the Federal Government to obey the unanimous and laudable ruling of the Court of Appeal and release our son Mr Nnamdi Kanu. The Court of Appeal had in a unanimous and historic judgment cleared Mr Kanu of the remaining 7 of the original 15 count-terrorism charges against him. Justice Binta Nyako of a Federal High Court, FCT, Abuja had earlier quashed 8 of the original 15 charges against Mr Kanu. The honorable thing for the Federal Government to do now is to release Mr Kanu, and stop this wide goose appeal at the Supreme Court.”

Speaking also, the Ezeigbo of Abuja, HRH Igwe (Dr.) Ibe Nwosu,said now that IPOB has publicly condemned and distanced its members from Ekpa’s sit-at-home order, the State Governors as the chief security officers of the various states in the South East must rise up to their responsibility of ensuring effective protection of lives and property of the citizenry, as well as freedom of movement of people and goods in the zone.

“The Governors should empower and sustain vigilante groups in the state to assist in the internal security maintenance in the South East. We also call on the traditional rulers, community and town union leaders, the clergy, youth organizations and other peace loving institutions and individuals to rise up to the challenge of ensuring not just free movement of people, goods and services in the South East, but also immediate casting of this draconian sit-at-home order permanently to the dustbin of history. The sit-at-home order must never be allowed to come back to the South East.”

The Igbo elders also called on the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC, to take necessary measures to provide a level playing ground for all the political parties and their candidates as well as conduct a free, fair and credible election in 2023.

“The people of the South East, both at home and in Diaspora, should all collect their permanent voters’ cards, PVCs, and ensure effective participation in the electoral process of next year,” they added.

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