Civil Society activists and human rights Defenders in the South East has advised the Federal Government to as a matter of urgently close down the borders in North.
They made the call yesterday while briefing journalists ‘on what they described
Convener of the meeting and member of the Civil Liberties Organization, Comrade Ibuchukwu Ezike, who spoke of on behalf of others, said the call for closure of the borders was made to checkmate the influx of illegal immigrants, small arms and light weapons (SALWs), and the killer herdsmen into the country.
He pointed out that If the Federal Government could close Seme Border in the South to checkmate rice smuggling, it should do the same in the North to checkmate influx of arms and criminals.
He expressed dismay that no Igbo man was appointed to head any of the security agencies, adding that the Igbo ethnic nationality has no representative in both the National Defence Council and Nigeria Security Council.
Ezike further alleged that the on-going construction of rail lines across the country is not being witnessed anywhere in the South East.
“The ambitious Port-Harcourt-Maiduguri railway project, which was meant to span through Aba, Umuahia, Enugu, Oturkpo, Makurdi, Kafanchan, Kaduna and Kuru-Jos, Bauchi, Gombe, Maiduguri is being politicized.
“The federal roads in the South East are largely in a state of decay. Apart from some sections of Enugu – Port-Harcourt expressway where rehabilitation works are on-going, the Enugu-Onitsha and Enugu – Otukpa Expressways are not only in a deplorable state, but also, they constitute a nightmare to commuters. The second Niger Bridge has remained a bait to woo Ndiigbo at every election year.
“Seaport: Our people are known as the largest importers in the country. Yet, efforts to dredge the Onitsha seaport and construct the inland port at Abia State had remained a paper tiger. And total dependence on Lagos ports is no longer tenable.
“The South East receives the least allocation from the federal government, as a result of the imbalance in the number of states and local government areas (LGAs) created by the military. Each of the zones has six states, except the North West with 7 states, while South East takes the bottom rung of the ladder with only 5 states. For emphasis, the 3 states in the North West alone (Kano, Katsina and Jigawa) have a total of 105 LGAs, as against the 5 states in the South East with a total of only 95 LGAs. The 2014 Constitutional Conference had set out to re-write this injustice, but President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to implement the recommendations.”
On the closure of Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, Ezike said they took exception to what he described as the ‘”abrupt shut down of Enugu Airport (the only international airport in the South East) without notice and provision of alternative route.”.
“For us, it is a mark of insensitivity to, and disrespect for the beleaguered people of the South East. We appreciate the fact that the action was moved by safety concerns, yet, suffice it to say that due diligence should have been completed before the closure. When Abuja Airport was closed down, the contract for the rehabilitation was awarded with a completion timeline of 6 weeks. Kaduna Airport was put in order as an alternative route, while the federal government dedicated two transport companies to convey passengers to and fro Abuja and Kaduna. In the case of Enugu Airport, none of these measures were taken. The project is not even captured in the 2019 appropriation. Therefore, nobody is sure of the contractor, the funding mechanism, and when the project would be completed. We see this as double standard” he stated.
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