HomeOpinionIgbo leaders, SANs: It’s time to end killings in the Southeast

Igbo leaders, SANs: It’s time to end killings in the Southeast

Igbo leaders and Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) from the Southeast on Tuesday called for an end to the wave of violence sweeping through the region.

Constitutional lawyer and elder statesman Prof Ben Nwabueze (SAN) warned against the country’s disintegration and the dangers of another civil war.

The Senate Chief Whip and former Abia State Governor, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu; a former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Deputy Governor Kingsley Moghalu and the Concerned Senior Advocates of Nigeria of Southeast Extraction called for dialogue to end the bloodshed.

A former Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, who chaired a security summit in Abia State, and other elders, condemned the attacks on security agencies and government assets.
Prof Nwabueze, Chairman of Igbo Leaders of Thought (ILT), lamented that the country seemed to be heading for a violent disintegration that will not only be more tedious than that of 1967-1970, but could also cause a holocaust.

He urged all parties to the present raging national conflicts to either embrace peace and sanity or negotiate nonviolent disintegration.

In a statement titled ‘A timely warning,’ he referenced a similar call by former President Nnamdi Azikiwe.

Nwabueze said: “About this time in 1964 Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, the ceremonial President of the country in his characteristic manner, warned of the impending calamity about to befall the country, and pleaded for a peaceful disintegration of the country rather than through battles and wars.

“It seems appropriate at this point to draw attention to Dr Azikiwe’s warning. Nigeria seems to be heading towards a danger of wars and disintegration that will be more tedious than those of 1967-1970.

“Circumstances have changed over the past 50 years and lessons ought to have been learnt. More federations have disintegrated, in fact, all other federations apart from the ill-conceived, ill-structured Nigeria federation.

“The social media are afloat and no one can stop them. Mercenaries and western political adventurers are all over in search of plunder and fighting.

“Poorly equipped nations have grown beyond their initial position and can no longer be intimidated or crushed.

“The next fight will not be a small encounter, but a holocaust, and that is why I am writing.

“On behalf of Igbo Leaders of Thought (ILT), I warn, as Azikiwe did, for peace and sanity.

“The command of troops may in the end prove to be mere cosmetic than real.

“If we must disintegrate let us meet and decide how to do that. I repeat, no one owns this country; a word is enough for the wise.”
Moghalu urged President Buhari, to as a matter of urgency, invite all those agitating for secession to national dialogue to give them a hearing.

At a briefing in Abuja, the presidential aspirant urged Buhari to set up a truth and reconciliation commission to immediately stabilize the country.

Moghalu, who is the convener, Moghalu4Nigeria, said the country was at war with itself.

He condemned the violence in the Southeast, attacks on security personnel, burning of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) offices and other government facilities, and the reported extrajudicial killings of innocent civilians in the region by security agencies.

Moghalu said the root cause of the separatist agitations is injustice, adding that the government should also establish May 30 as a national holiday to remember the millions that died in the Nigerian civil war.

His words: “I am today asking President Buhari to immediately set up a truth and reconciliation commission as the first step to stabilize Nigeria and begin the process of national healing and reconciliation.

“It is clear, however, that the Federal Government has not adopted a root-cause approach to the agitations for secession in different parts of Nigeria, in particular the Southeast and the Southwest, and security implications of these agitations.

“President Buhari should invite all secessionist agitation movements to a national dialogue to give them a hearing to address credible, verifiable grievances.”

He said there should be concrete actions towards the establishment of a Constituent Assembly to begin the framing of a new constitution, with legislative support from the National Assembly.

This, he said, should be initiated jointly by the Presidency in collaboration with the National Assembly and representatives of ethnic nationalities, traditional rulers, the clergy, and civil society.
A group of senior lawyers, the Concerned Senior Advocates of Nigeria of Southeast Extraction, condemned the arson and killings in the Southeast and commiserated with the victims.

“These acts of violence are not supported and cannot be supported by the people of the Southeast,” the group said in a statement by Udechukwu Nnoruka Udechukwu (SAN).

The SANs said Southeasterners are peace-loving, law-abiding and development-oriented people, adding that the recent carnage is not representative of their aspirations.

“It is indeed worrisome that the persons or group of people responsible for the mayhem; where they are from and what their objectives are remain unknown.

“It is equally worrisome that the management of the crisis unfortunately exhibits double standards with regard to the response of Federal security agencies in Southeast visà-vis other similarly afflicted zones.

“To find an immediate resolution and stop further degeneration of the security situation, the Concerned Southeast SANs hereby call for a truce and immediate cessation of hostilities on all sides to allow for a consideration of the underlying issues and grievances which have led to the recent rise in ethnic or tribal nationalism not only in the Southeast but in other parts of the country.”

The SANs urged Southeasterners to remain law-abiding and called on law enforcement agencies to respect the sanctity of life and avoid indiscriminate arrests.

“The Concerned Southeast SANs also appeal to the Federal Government to embrace dialogue and diplomacy as a means of resolving the myriad of growing disaffections across the entire country in the interest of peace and unity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” the senior lawyers said.

The group urged General Abdulsalam Abubakar, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Colonel Dangiwa Umar (Rtd) and other well-meaning Nigerians from the six geopolitical zones to intervene quickly in the matter to secure a truce.

This, it said, would provide a conducive atmosphere for resolving the underlying issues which are currently threatening Nigeria’s survival.
In Abia, traditional rulers, heads of security agencies and local government chairmen, after a security summit chaired by Ihejirika, called for an end to the violence in the Southeast.

They backed the Southern governors on the open grazing ban and urged the state government to ensure its full enforcement and implementation.

In a communique issued at the end of a three-day Abia State Security Roundtable, participants called for greater inter-agency collaboration among security agencies in the state to enhance information sharing.

The stakeholders praised security agencies for their commitment to securing the region in the face of the targeted attacks by hoodlums and urged them to remain steadfast.

They also condemned in very strong terms the attacks on security formations in the state and commiserated with the Police authorities, other security agencies and INEC on the loss of their personnel and destruction of their assets.

The communiqué, signed by Ihejirika, reads in part: “The Summit resolved that there should be devolution of power to local governments on matters concerning security for effective security of the state.

“Every local government chairman in Abia State would be required to work with existing and homegrown structures to ensure the security of their local councils.

“The Summit recommended a new security architecture by the Abia State Government that will incorporate community-based vigilante services and homeland security, all of which will work in conjunction with the statutory security agencies to enhance the security and safety of the state.
“The Summit called on the citizenry to continue to work with the security agencies in Abia State in the area of providing information, noting that perpetrators of these nefarious acts are from amongst the people and with a robust information management system, it will be easy to apprehend them.

“The Summit urged security agencies to effectively manage information given to them by informants to avoid backlash against the informants and called for the establishment of an effective incentive system to encourage more people to come forward with information on the activities of criminal elements in the State.” Critically, Peace is highly needed in the country to enhance development.


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