BY JOY YESUFU, Ahuraka Isah, Solomon Ayado, Abuja, ANAYO ONUKWUGHA, PORT HARCOURT, EMMANUEL MGBEAHURUIKE, Owerri –
The Nigerian Army declared yesterday that its ongoing operation in the South East is in line with what the constitution has empowered it to do and as such, it is not in any way under any pressure from politicians or any political party.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai, who stated this said now that the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has been proscribed, the federal government will take appropriate steps to declare leader of the group, Nnamdi Kanu, wanted.
Speaking during the second and third quarter Chief of Army Staff Conference in Abuja, Buratai noted that the Nigerian Army is apolitical.
According to the Army chief, while the military is part of the Nigerian political process and a product of democratic governance, the constitution gives the force responsibilities and task to be carried out.
He said, “The Nigerian Army is poised to confront evolving internal and external threats in order to guarantee the sovereignty of our dear country. Therefore, the need for regular improvement on existing capabilities of the Nigerian Army to be able to deal with present and future security threats is most imperative.
“I therefore reiterate that the Nigerian Army must firmly remain apolitical to defend our constitution by providing the needed security environment as guaranteed for survival of our democracy. Consequently, I remain committed to building a highly sustainable and functional Nigerian Army that will be the most decisive land force in Africa”.
Saraki Faults IPOB’s Proscription, Insists On Due Process
Meanwhile, Senate President Bukola Saraki has faulted the proscription of IPOB by governors of the South East states and the categorization of the group as a terrorist organisation by the Nigerian military, saying such pronouncements are unconstitutional and does not follow due process.
In a statement he personally signed yesterday, Saraki noted that the nation’s laws make clear provisions for taking such actions and that without the due process being followed, such declaration cannot have effect.
“I am sure the President will do the needful by initiating the right process. This will go a long way in demonstrating to the world at large that we are a country that operates by laid down process under every circumstance. So, those who have been hammering on this point should maintain their cool”, he noted.
Saraki hinted that the National Assembly was planning to embark on a fact-finding investigation to determine “what actually happened during the period of the military exercise in the South-east.
“We want to be able to sift the facts from the fiction and determine who did what. It is quite clear that all the facts are not yet known.
We assure Nigerians that there will be no cover up. We intend to lay the facts bare”, he stated.
Calling for calm and restraints by Nigerians following the clash between the military and members of the IPOB, Saraki said all government functionaries should jointly find the right solution to the current problem rather than worsening the crisis.
“Our brothers and sisters in the South-east, in particular, should continue to maintain peace and tranquility and go about their lawful business. This crisis will not benefit anybody but would only expose innocent people to unwarranted danger.
“At this point, Nigerians outside the South-east who have worked to ensure that the crisis does not spread to other parts of the country deserve our commendation. I therefore call for continued efforts to sustain peace, unity and stability in all our communities so as to ensure that all residents, no matter their religion, tribe and creed remain protected and safe under the law.
“It is also important that commentators and purveyors of information on all media platforms should be conscious of the need, at all times, to maintain the unity of the country. Therefore, they must refrain
from circulating information that has the potential for aggravating the crisis”.
The Senate president also said the military should be commended for their efforts in restoring peace to different parts of the country and sustaining the unity of the country.
Northern Govs Visit S’East, S’South On Peace Mission
Meanwhile, a delegation of the Northern Governors Forum yesterday paid a visit to Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, as part of its peace mission to the South East and South South geo-political zones of the country.
LEADERSHIP reports that the peace mission by the Northern governors to the two zones is part of efforts to douse tension and promote peace and dialogue among all sections of the country.
The team led by the chairman of the forum and governor of Borno State, Kashim Shattima, has governors Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi and Simon Lalong of Plateau States as members.
It is gathered that the delegation will hold meetings with their counterparts in Rivers, Abia and Imo States. Apart from the visit to political leaderships in those states, the delegation is expected to meet with traditional and religious leaders.
They will also confer with Northerners resident in those states. Importantly, the delegation will reassure their counterparts in the South South and South East that all Nigerians are free to stay in all parts of the country, especially in the North, and that the entire North stands with the people of South East in this period of heightened tension.
Our correspondent gathered that the visit has the blessing of President Muhammadu Buhari and the consultations will continue with all stakeholders so as to enhance unity and peace in the federation.
Speaking during the visit at Government House, Port Harcourt, Shettima who said their visit was part of moves to promote national unity and peaceful coexistence commended Wike for taking urgent steps that led to the protection of Nigerians living in the state.
The Borno State governor said that the Northern Ggvernors were in Rivers State to identify with Wike and commend the governor for nipping the unfortunate conflict that erupted in Oyigbo local government area of the state in the bud.
“We are mightily associating ourselves with you. Nigeria is greater than political differences. We belong to one political family and that is the Federal Republic of Nigeria. No interest should be bigger than the Federal Republic of Nigeria. You believe in the Nigerian Project.
For that, we remain eternally grateful”, He told Wike.
Lawyers Urge FG To Go Hard On Agitators, Terrorists
Meanwhile, the body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) yesterday implored the federal government to consider the activities of IPOB as an extra ordinary challenge that equally requires an extra ordinary response.
Chief T.J. Onomigbo Okpoko (SAN) who represented the most senior SAN in the country and chairman of the body of benchers, Chief Richard Akinjide (SAN), stated this yesterday when he delivered an address on behalf of the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria at the special session of the Supreme Court to mark the opening of the 2017/2018 Legal Year and induction of new members of the Inner Bar (SANs).
He said the federal government must not just wait to react after the commission of criminal acts but must t begin to put in place some preventive measures, such as the categorization of the IPOB as terrorist group by the military and the proscription of the group’s activities by the South East governors.
He insisted that the freedom of citizens must go to the second place when it collides with the security of the nation and the freedom of its citizens to go about their daily lives without the fear or threat of kidnapping, abduction or terrorist attacks.
Okpoko pointed out that detaining or restricting the movement of a potential terrorist may prevent him from carrying out all his dastardly plans and save or protect a potential victim.
While craving for excuse to speak on behalf of the majority of the voiceless people of the country on issues of insecurity affecting them, he said the media are replete with reports of kidnapping of citizens, abduction of citizens for no reason other than to demand and receive ransom for the release of victims of kidnap or abduction who are fortunate to have survived their ordeal.
His words: “Pedophiles are on prowl, ritual murders have greatly increased. Added to this, is the emergence of highly armed groups from various parts of country threatening and demanding actions and things from the Nigerian state.
“The result and consequences of this, is that, on daily basis, groups of violent and armed citizens are attracting followership and are beginning to wear the appearance of role models to our young children and the unfortunate members of our country who appear to be incapable of discerning the danger involved in that enterprise”.
Igbos Won’t Support Secession – Okorocha
Meanwhile, Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha, has insisted that no reasonable Igboman would support secession of the country, saying IPOB leader, Kanu, should be treated as a single individual because reasonable Igbo people have condemned the group’s activities in all ramifications.
Governor Okorocha spoke in Owerri at the cultural festival organized by the State Council of Traditional Rulers headed by HRM Eze Samuel Ohiri.
Okorocha rsaid, “I can see that the unity of Nigeria is today dramatized in the land of Imo State. I say so because growing up as a child, I never knew where I came from because I found myself somewhere in Plateau State as a little boy and the only language I could speak was the Hausa language and I had no choice because that was where I was brought up.
“So, I grew up being born an Igbo man, but was reared in the North and was made financially buoyant in the South-West. I have declared myself that in no way should I be found as a tribalized Nigerian.
“I will remain detribalized as long as Igbos gave me parentage and childhood, as long as the North reared and nurtured me and for as long as South West empowered me. My community and my identity is Nigeria”.
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, who attended the function said he will not condemn the IPOB elements, but would rather asked that they be made to channel their energy positively, adding that he is passionate about the unity of the nation.
Rearrest Kanu Or We Go After Him, DYC Tells FG
Menawhile, the Democratic Youth Congress (DYC) yesterday gave the federal government a one-month ultimatum to rearrest IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu.
The youth group said should the federal government fail to rearrest the IPOB leader, it will mobilize the entire Nigerian youths against what it described as Kanu’s treacherous menace.
National chairman of the group, Hon. Kassim Kassim, who stated this in Abuja while briefing journalists said even though the DYC has always stood for peace and the unity of the country, it will not fold its arms and watch one man plung the entire country into another avoidable civil war.
Kassim who is also a member of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly said, “Much as we are solidly in the vanguard for the unity, peace, progress and development of our dear country, Nigeria, we will not sit on the fence and watch the actions of one man plunge our country into avoidable civil war.
“We therefore give the federal government twenty one days to rearrest Kanu who has breached all his bail conditions and is jeopardising the peace and security of this country. Enough is enough. We the Nigerian youths have had enough”.
DYC also commended the South East governors for their timely intervention, which it said had been able to quell the confusion created by Kanu and IPOB.
The group also declared support for Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, who it described as one of its national patrons, for condemning “in totality the activities of Nnamdi Kanu and also demanded for his rearrest in order to avert crisis in the South East and Nigeria at large”.
Urging Nigerian youths to remain law abiding in the meantime, DYC commended the Igbo community in the country for taking a stand in supoort of the country’s unity as well as security agencies for their professional conduct.
“We wish to implore the Nigerian youths to remain law abiding citizens and avoid holding press conferences or reactions to the ongoing scenario until our demands are not met which shall warrant an urgent general meeting of all the youth groups and tribal associations for unanimous decision on what to do”, Kassim said.
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