By Hosea Yusuf, Abuja.
Concerned Igbo elders have called on relevant authorities to deal decisively with members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), saying the current level of force being deployed may not be enough to curb their violent excesses.
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The elders forum, who operate under the aegis of Conference of Concerned Igbo Elders for Peace and National Unity, further accused IPOB of carrying out Tuesday’s attack on Abayi police station in Aba, Osisioma Ngwa local council of Abia State, which resulted in the death of two police officers and burning of the station.
While condemning the violent campaigns of members of the separatist group, the elders called on Igbo sons and daughters at home and in the diaspora,to dissociate themselves from the group, with a view to sending a strong message across, that IPOB does not represent the views of Ndigbo.
According to the elders, decisive force was required at this time, considering recent events, which suggest that IPOB was determined to undermine security and peace in the South East, which is an integral part of the country.
To buttress their point, the Igbo elders drew attention to the attack on security operatives within the Orlu council of Imo State, warning that the proscribed group may likely carry out more daring attacks, unless urgent action was taken deter them.
They reminded the public that the IPOB remained a “terrorist organisation”, having regard to an order of a federal high court in Abuja, which proscribed its activities, at the instance of a request by the federal government.
While harping on the application of federal character principle in making sensitive appointments, the concerned Igbo elders decried what they considered was growing exclusion of the South East in national affairs.
To cure this malaise, the group has called on Igbo sons and daughters of voting age, to take advantage of the ongoing registration exercise by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), to register en masse.
In their estimation, integration into mainstream politics, through the instrumentality of the APC, will end the politics of exclusion and marginalisation against the South East geo-political zone.
The group warned Igbo politicians against divisive tendencies, insisting that the time had come for Igbo politicians to articulate a common front which, in the final analysis, will engender confidence and trust.
“As a geo-political entity, we believe that the Igbo have been sidelined for too long, and members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, have helped to sustain this act of injustice through the deliberate and orchestrated violent disruption of peace and security”, the elders said in the statement.
As part of urgent measures to redress the balance, and bring the South East to recknoning, the patriots have called for robust engagements by relevant stakeholders on issues of concern, while denouncing IPOB, its leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, and all they represent.
The statement reads in full: “We use this opportunity to call on the military and other concerned authorities to bring the full weight of the law to bear on the Nnamdi Kanu-led Indigenous People of Biafra, in a manner that will ensure the restoration of permanent peace and order to the South East region.
“As respected elders committed to national unity, peace and cohesion, we rise in condemnation of the violent activities of IPOB, which we hasten to note, are not a representation of the Igbo.
“Ndigbo are peace-loving and peace-building people, whose commitment to the national cause is irrevocable, regardless of the negative tendencies of a few deviants, who have constituted themselves into cogs in the wheel of progress.
“Now is, therefore, the time for all well-meaning Igbo sons and daughters, to condemn the wicked activities of IPOB, to drive home the point that they do not have our endorsement – tacit or open.
“How long shall we allow IPOB to lead this campaign of destruction against our collective will, before we rise against them with all our might and strength?
“While the dust raised by their attack on security operatives within Orlu and its environs was yet to settle, we woke up on Tuesday to witness the mindless attack on Abayi police station in Aba, Osisioma Ngwa local council of Abia State, which claimed the lives of two officers.
“Apart from IPOB, we also want to raise serious concerns over the continued exclusion of our zone from national issues, the latest being the non-consideration of any military officer of Igbo extraction for appointment as Service Chief.
“The Conference of Concerned Igbo Elders for Peace and National Unity observes that this trend has been amplified under the current administration in the country.
“It is on this basis, that we throw our support to Ohanaeze Ndigbo,for the review of appointments of Service Chiefs, to accommodate an Igbo son, thereby reflecting the federal character principle.
“Nonetheless, we suspect that the discordant tunes among Ndigbo, especially politicians, have continued to rob us of our entitlements in national equation.
“To address this anomaly, therefore, we urge all Igbo sons and daughters, who are eighteen years and above, to register and obtain membership cards of the ruling All Progressives Congress, which is currently undertaking fresh registration and revalidating exercise.
“Now is the time to play mainstream politics, and sitting on the fence is a luxury Ndigbo cannot afford at this time of fierce competition for national space and reckoning”.