BY AHURAKA ISAH and chibuzo ukaibe, Abuja
Nigerians of the Igbo extraction rank among tribes with the highest participation in the ongoing registration and collection of the national identity cards and international passports in the last three months,journalists Sunday investigations have revealed.
This is despite the growing agitation for secession by the Indigenous people of biafra (IPOB) led by Nnamdi Kanu and their sponsors who are pushing for the sovereign state of biafra.
Undaunted by the quit notice issued those of them living in the North by the Coalition of Northern Youth Groups which was withdrawn last Thursday, the Igbos still acquire these items of national identity belonging to the federal republic of Nigeria.
This ostensibly gives credence to President Muhammadu Buhari’s declaration in his nationwide broadcast last Monday that the unity of the country is settled and not negotiable.
It was learnt that Igbos residing in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) go to the National Identity Management Commission [NIMC] in droves to get their national identity cards.
Source at the weekend has as well confirm that despite the agitation for self-actualization and the creation of the biafran state from the five states making up the Southeast Geo-political zone, Igbos are ceaselessly and massively collecting International Passports.
They also collect drivers license and participate in the ongoing voter registration exercise in the FCT, other states and in their home states as well.
A survey conducted by our correspondent at the national identity card registration centers such as the Supreme Court, National Assembly complex, Army and Police Barracks, National Hospital, AMAC, Wuse and Garki markets, Lugbe, Gwarinpa and Kubwa satellite towns showed that Igbos dominate the crowd waiting to be registered.
At the Vehicle Inspection Office (VIO) at Mabushi in Abuja where the driver’s license registration, renewal and collection exercises take place, there is nothing to confirm that the Igbos are refusing to participate.
In the course of interactions and discussions with officials at the International Passport issuing and renewal section of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) office at the airport road in Abuja, there are also ample evidence to tell that the Igbos are unperturbed by the much touted agitation and the quit notice in the media.
An official at the international passport registration office who spoke to our correspondent said, “What you are talking about does not happen here; all tribes whether Yoruba, Igbo or Hausa travel out of this country for academic studies, business or official trips.
“With what will they travel with, if because of the noise amongst the politicians out there they foolishly refuse to come for the Nigeria international passport?
It was also gathered that in Anambra State which is the melting point of the biafra agitation, people are unfazed and are going with their preparation for the forthcoming gubernatorial election billed for November 18 this year, despite the declaration by the IPOB leader, Kanu, that there will be no governorship election in the state.
According to Mrs. May Agbamuche-Mbu, the South-south National Electoral Commissioner in charge of Edo, Bayelsa and Rivers at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Headquarters in Abuja said the voter registration exercise in Anambra has been a huge success in recent time.
“Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise in Anambra State has been a resounding success. We took the CVR exercise from the local government councils to the ward level. The threat by IPOB has not in any way affected the CVR exercise’’,as revealed to journalists Sunday.
Also, in a telephone conversation with our correspondent, INEC deputy director of publicity, Aliyu Bello, said the IPOB declaration has not affected negatively the commission’s preparation for the November 18 poll in Anambra.
He said, “Everybody is going about his or her business as usual. INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu has directed that the registration should be decentralized from the local government headquarters to ward level because every eligible voter there in Anambra was eager to register; hence, that order was made’’.
Anambra State governor, Willie Obiano, had declared two days as public holidays to enable civil servants participate in the voters registration exercise during the Workers’ Day celebration in Awka.
On August 8, 2017, Anambra state’s Resident Electoral Commissioner, Nkwachukwu Orji disclosed at a stakeholders’ forum that INEC has prepared well and ready to conduct the November 18 governorship election in Anambra state.
Orji stated that a total number of 79, 700 eligible voters were registered during the first phase of the nationwide Continuous Voter Registration exercise, adding that the number skyrocketed to 2,042,548 between July 24 – 28 July, 2017
According to Orji, the commission has approved the devolution of the voter’s registration exercise to the ward level to ensure all eligible persons in the state are registered before the governorship election.
“This is a unique exercise since the Continuous Voter Registration exercise in other states takes place at the local government area levels. Therefore, from Thursday 10 August to Tuesday, 15, INEC would be at designated centres in all the 326 wards in Anambra state to conduct this important exercise”, he added.
On the renewed surge for participation in the national identity card registration exercise, NIMC’s Head of Corporate Communications Unit, Mr Loveday Chika Ogbonna, said effective from January 2018, no issuance of International Passport will be accommodated without NIMC national identification number (NIN).
He said, ‘’NIN is issued by us upon successful registration or enrollment into National Identification Data Base (NIDB). Remember that the Federal Government has directed that all data and bio-metric collation agencies of the government should integrate and harmonize with NIMC so that it becomes sole repository of national data base in the country.
“We have barely over 7 million enrollment two years ago before Engr Aliyu Abubakar Aziz was appointed Director General of the NIMC. But as at today we have enrollment of 19.7 million Nigerians due to schemes the Engr Aziz has introduced. We are in all states and all LGAs with daily resounding participation due to growing awareness of the use of the national identity cards as stated earlier.
“I can tell or give the breakdown of region per region enrollment figures now, but do have my words that the participation in every region without exception is massive and increasing by quantum day after the other’’.
Igbo Never Mandated Anybody To Talk About Secession – Iwuanyanwu
Meanwhile, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, has said that Igbo never mandated anybody to talk about breaking away from the country.
Iwuanyanwu said this in Abuja yesterday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
Expressing worry over agitations by some groups calling for the nation’s balkanization, Iwuanyanwu however said that the call for restructuring was appropriate to address the numerous challenges confronting the country.
According to him, restructuring doesn’t mean division of the nation, noting that ‘‘let us forget about the talk of secession by some young people; I am an Igbo man and a leader”.
He continued: ‘‘I was the hairman of Planning and Strategy of Ohaneze Ndigbo, so when you talk of any decision on the Igbo, it must have my consent. Igbo have never mandated anybody to go and talk about secession.
“We have heard that some youths reversed the call for the exit of the Igbo form the north. l am happy that Nigerian leaders as well as the governors are coming up to say that Igbo are safe in their places.
Iwuanyanwu assured Igbo of their safety in every part of the country. ‘‘Many Igbo in the north have been coming to me asking me of what to do; I want to assure them that nobody is going to hurt them. We all stand for one Nigeria and in future if anybody makes a statement, nobody should generalise and say it is Igbo”, he added.
Ohanaeze Kicks Over Nnamdi Kanu’s Re-arrest
Meanwhile, the pan-Igbo socio-political organisation, Ohanaeze, has lambasted the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice for asking the court to revoke the bail conditions given the leader of the indigenous people of biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.
The umbrella body of the Igbo said it was surprising that the Attorney General was prepared to contest the superiority of the provisions of the constitution on fundamental human rights of freedom of movement and freedom of association over an erroneous judicial proclamation violating those rights.
Ohanaeze stated this in a statement signed by its President General Chief John Nnia Nwodo titled, ‘Attorney-General of the Federation, Please respect your oath of office’.
Nwodo in the statement said, “I am equally miffed by the audacity with which the Attorney-General displays his bias without regard to his oath of office.
“A few hours ago under the watchful eyes of the Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum and in total defiance of the Head of State’s proclamation of the rights of a citizen of Nigeria to live anywhere in Nigeria and to do business anywhere in Nigeria, the Arewa Youths, pretending to withdraw their quit notice gave qualifications to the Head of State’s proclamation, issuing conditions for enjoyment of citizenship status.
“These same Arewa Youths are supposed to have been arrested on the orders of the Governor of Kaduna State and the Inspector General of Police for acts of treason, conversion and sedition. As the Chief law officer of the Federation the Attorney-General looks the other way. He does not go to court to seek an order of arrest or prosecution.
“Nnamdi, as a citizen of Nigeria, is free to hold any point of view no matter how displeasing to anyone so long as they are not inciting or provoking any criminal activities.
“I and some Igbo leaders have differences of opinion with Nnamdi on a number of issues. We have been insulted and abused by Radio Biafra but we concede them their right to differ from us. We concede them their nature to be exuberant as Youths but we cannot be judgmental about their rights”.
Nigeria Has Anti-hate Speech Law But Lacks Political Will To Enforce – Falana
Meanwhile, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and renowned human rights activist lawyer, Chief Femi Falana, has avarred that there is no use for the federal government to further dissipate energies and resources to enact new laws to curb hate speeches.
According to him, the country has enough laws to deal with the menace.
In a statement signed by himself yesterday, Falana said what is rather lacking is the political will to arrest and prosecute those who contravene the provisions of the relevant laws.
While addressing a Security Summit organised by the National Economic Council (NEC) at the presidential villa, Abuja on August 17, 2017, then Acting President Yemi Osinbajo had said that the federal government had drawn a line on hate speech and would treat it as an act of terrorism.
Falana noted yesterday that the laws against hate speeches have been applied in piecemeal, just as he stated that apart from the right of public officers and private citizens to seek redress in the law courts to protect their reputation by suing media organizations and individuals who defame them the penal laws in the country have taken care of the mischief which may be caused by reckless publications.
He said the Kaduna state government, for instance, has had cause to drag a journalist to court for allegedly exaggerating the number of people that were killed in Southern Kaduna by gunmen during a recent civil disturbance.
His words: “In particular, offences which include criminal defamation, inciting statements, breach of the peace, criminal intimidation, publication of statement, rumour or report which may disturb public peace, false publication etc attract penalties by imprisonment or payment of fines include.
“See sections 59-60, 373-381 of the Criminal Code (applicable in the southern states) and sections 391-40, 417-418 of the Penal Code (applicable in the northern states).
Falana continued: ‘’Under section 95 of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended it is provided that no political campaign or slogan shall be tainted with abusive language directly or indirectly likely to injure religious, ethnic, tribal or sectional feelings.
‘’Accordingly, abusive, intemperate, slanderous or base language or insinuations or innuendoes designed or likely to provoke violent reaction or emotions shall not be employed or used in political campaigns.
“A political party or persons who contravenes the provision of this section is guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction- (a) in the case of an individual, to a maximum fine of N1,000,000 or imprisonment for the term of 12 months; and in the case of a political party, to a fine of N2,000,000 in the first instance, and N1,000,000 for any subsequent offence”.
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