From the Igbo apex socio-cultural organisation Ohanaeze Ndigbo came, on Friday, a charge to Southeast youths: stop the violence.
The group said there is nothing to celebrate in violence.
It was reacting to the spate of violence in the zone which has seen gunmen kill, maim and burn government facilities.
But Ohanaeze asked the Federal Government to conduct urgent in-depth investigation into the destruction of lives and property in the region by security agents.
It said the clampdown was unacceptable and warned of the consequences of human rights violations for the country.
However, some Igbo youths said the geo-political zone would not bow to any act of intimidation.
President-General of Ohanaeze, Dr. George Obiozor, told journalists in Enugu that Ndigbo would neither support the break-up of Nigeria nor become victims of Nigeria’s unity.
Obiozor, a former Ambassador to the United States of America, described as unfortunate the implications of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent statement on the civil war.
He said: “The last time I checked or heard a President speak of shock and awe, it was reserved for the enemy, not the citizens.”
Buhari had said earlier in the week that “many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Biafra war. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.”
Obiozor appealed to Igbo youths involved in violence to have a rethink.
He said: “I strongly advise them that there is nothing to celebrate in violence. We cannot change our lots and situations by steering and provoking hatred amongst ourselves, raining insults and abuses on ourselves and declaring war against those who disagree with your own ideas and approach to resolving our common problems.
“What good does it do to us in the destruction of government institutions and facilities, most of which were built by our own people and donated to the government for our own benefit and the general good of the society?
“I appeal to Igbo youths to kindly avoid violence in spite of all provocations. We know how aggrieved we all are, but peace options are the best.
“Ohanaeze once more urges the Federal Government to reconsider the use of force in resolving the present national crises.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo worldwide considers it imperative on the part of the Federal Government to conduct urgent in depth investigations on the destruction of lives and property in the Southeast.”
Obiozor, who condemned the level of extra-judicial killing of innocent Igbo youths by security agents in the Southeast, reiterated that history shows that military and violent means to solve the national problem often lead to national fractionalization, anarchy- and eventual or inevitable disintegration.
He regretted that Nigeria has “a history of crises and continuity as well as creative use of crises as means of solving our national political problems whenever we are near the brinks of catastrophy. In the recent past, we have had NADECO, Niger Delta militants and Boko Haram insurgency.”
Ohanaeze told the federal government to realise and be confident enough that no secessionist forces can defeat Nigeria, adding “the present situation in the country will soon be history. This too shall pass.”
He added: “Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide calls for a dialogue to resolve the present national crises. The Federal Government should acknowledge that because of the reality of Nigerian irresistible pluralism, it is always preferable to go for dialogue instead of force.
“Majority of Nigerians prefer unity to secession or separatism. They want justice, pace, equity and fairness. The golden rule of do unto others what you would like done unto you, that is complementarity and inclusive governance.
“In fact, a brief glance at Nigerian society, there is no shortage of villains among our political elites. But like many societies a deeper look into Nigeria, you will see that the country’s political heroes still exist, though the villains may noisily dominate the political space.
“Consequently, to secure Nigeria, to develop Nigeria and to have peace, the Federal Government should immediately engage all Nigerian groups through their various leaders in an urgent dialogue.
“Dialogue is what patriotic Nigerians, Nigerian well wishers/ admirers and the international community is now expecting of Nigerian leadership to resolve the present national crises, and not military action. It is time for peaceful action and dialogue; not war and destruction.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo calls on the Federal Government to take note of the ongoing human rights violations in the South East zone
“We must beware of its international consequences and domestic implications in our ability to heal the Nigerian nation. Nigeria is at a crossroads of its history and destiny. Let wisdom prevail.”
Speaking on the May 30 sit-at-home recently observed in the South East, Obiozor said Ohanaeze Ndigbo was in support of the South East governors’ declaration of public holiday on May 30 as Biafra day.”
He maintained that for Ndigbo and most Africans, a time to mourn or remember the dead is traditionally a solemn occasion.
“It is imperative and proper for Ndigbo to remember Ndigbo and others who died across the country, either in the genocide or civil war in Nigeria from 1967 to 1970.
Igbo youths not begging Ohanaeze for support – IPOB
However, spokesperson of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, Emma Powerful, dismissed Obiozor’s remark, insisting that nothing can stop the actualisation of Biafra.
He said: “They can say whatever they like. The general public has taken Biafra freedom. The youths are not begging them to support us because their hallucinations cannot stop us. We are going home and they will follow us soon.
“They can’t talk because they are afraid of their masters in the North and Aso Rock.”
How Southeast leaders can tackle insecurity – RMAFC Boss
Speaking on the insecurity in the Southeast, the Chairman of the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Elias Mbam, asked Southeast leaders to close ranks and find a solution to the rising insecurity in the region.
Mbam, who spoke in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State capital, also condemned the attack on some Ebonyi indigenous communities in Benue State by herdsmen during which over 50 persons were killed.
He urged security agencies to ensure the arrest and prosecution of criminal elements in the region.
He said: “It is painful and saddening that this type of thing is happening in the 21st Century and in the Southeast in particular.
“I am worried and I believe that we should not allow this to continue. The leaders should come together and find solution to it.
“Government is doing its best but government should ensure that the perpetrators of these acts are not left to go free.
“The security agencies should go all out to arrest and punish in line with the law, all those that have been found to be part of this dastardly acts.
“It is very inhuman and we don’t expect it that Southeast of all places should be involved in this. So, I call on everybody to be part of the security of this Southeast”.
“We need to inform the security men of those around us that are not part of the peace we are preaching so that they can be nipped in the bud.
“Then the security men should be up in doing their work so that any information they get, they should immediately get into action.”
On the herdsmen attack which occurred at the weekend, Mbam said Nigerians should learn to leave in peace with one another.
“I happen to be one of those that went to the hospitals to see the victims. It is very sad that human beings can be so criminal that they take knives and cut a one year old child. It is unheard of and I strongly condemn it.
“I strongly call on security agencies to go all out and arrest all involved in this criminal act. It is very bad. We should learn to live like brothers and sisters.
“We need peace, and it is when there is peace that we can make progress.”
Mr Mbam also called on the people of Ikwo and Izzie clan to resolve their disagreement peacefully without resorting to violence.
HURIWA knocks Senator Bulkachuwa over comments on Southeast youths
Human Rights Writers Association of Nigerian (HURIWA) on Fridayberated the Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Alhaji Adamu Bulkachuwa, for his threat that the Buhari administration will give the Southeast what it “wants’ if its youths do not stop disturbing the peace.
The group accused him of making hate speeches.
National Coordinator of HURIWA, Comrade Emmnauel Onwubiko, said Bulkachuwa “did not speak like a distinguished parliamentarian but like a war monger and just like a little child.”
Onwubiko said: “At his age, can he still carry an AK-47? Why are the old people who are privileged to have benefitted from Nigeria the persons at the forefront of seeking to destroy Nigeria? What is his gain if war breaks out and his children will have to get involved in the war?”
HURIWA also criticized Sheikh Ahmed Gumi for advocating that the government should make use of some terrorists to handle their likes troubling the country.
HURIWA stated: “Can we tell Sheikh Gumi that there is no good terrorist or kidnappers, and so for him to canvass the recruitment of terrorists to fight other terrorists is a direct support for terrorism which merits immediate arrest and prosecution under the anti- terrorism Act, which is a law in Nigeria.
“It is unfortunate that we have a federal government that sees nothing wrong with someone holding meetings with and speaking for terrorists as if he is above the law.”