Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, has slammed President Muhammadu Buhari for his statements on the reported massacre of eight Nigerians and security personnel in Owerri.
Mallam Garba Shehu, Special Assistant to the President on Media, condemned the crime and tasked the community with identifying the offenders.
Buhari also urged “community and religious leaders to speak out more firmly against the killings and to stand up and safeguard the nation’s cultural and religious heritage.”
But, in a rapid reaction, Ohanaeze stated that, while the killing was condemnable, the President should not speak as if such killings were exclusive to the South East.
According to a statement issued by Ohanaeze’s Publicity Secretary, Dr Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia, there are more senseless killings and terror attacks in Buhari’s North than in the South East.
The apex Igbo organisation also stated that Buhari, as Commander in Chief, should bear responsibility for insecurity in any section of the country.
“Ohaneaeze Ndigbo, on the other hand, frowns at the Presidency’s remark, which is nuanced against the South East as a refuge for terrorists who assault non-indigenous people and law enforcement agents; hinting that insecurity remains because leaders have not spoken forcefully.”
“This is extremely unjust to the Igbo, especially because the presidency is aware of the fundamental reason and nature of the insecurity in the South East.”
“It should be noted that the solution to the instability in the South East resides in the presidency’s great capabilities.”
“The presidency’s remarks appear to have ignored the long-running open war with Boko Haram in the North East; banditry in the North West, particularly in Katsina State; the Fulani Herdsmen invasion of several communities in the Middle Belt region; the Church massacre at Owo; daily kidnappings on our highways; the Kaduna-Abuja train abduction, and so on.”
“It is exceedingly uncharitable, if not malicious, to poison undiscerning minds by claiming that terrorists in the South East slaughter non-indigenous people and security officers.”
To attribute a national problem to the South East of Nigeria, on the other hand, is an ethnic bias pushed too far. Invariably, banditry endures in the North Central because their leaders have not spoken aggressively, or they are publicly celebrated and turbaned, or they are still afforded the Sheik Gumi alternative.
“Both history and present events in the country must have demonstrated that unfair policy against the just will eventually vindicate the just.”
Ohanaeze, which highlighted several cases of bandit killings in various regions of the country, questioned why the Presidency would single out the Owerri tragedy as if the residents were to blame.
“Two months ago, in the early hours of Sunday, June 21, suspected armed herdsmen allegedly massacred approximately thirty people in two towns in Okpokwu Local Government Area of Benue State in what has been termed as unprovoked attacks on civilians.”
“On Monday, July 22, 2022, gunmen attacked certain officers of the Nigerian Army Presidential Guards Brigade’s 7 Guards Battalion.” The attack, which occurred near Abuja’s Bwari Area Council, injured three soldiers and killed eight others.
“Advocacy News says on Friday, August 5, 2022, that “gunmen have abducted 14 Indian nationals working with a ceramics company in Ajaokuta Local Government Area of Kogi state.” The shooters killed “two Indians, two police officers, and two drivers,” according to the article. “They were on their way home from work (West African Ceramics) when the assailants assaulted their Coaster bus,” it said.
According to the statement, “there were 18 abduction episodes targeting students across northern Nigeria between January 2018 and April 2021,” according to the Wisconsin-based Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), one of the world’s most accurate conflict data aggregators.
“According to ACLED data, bandits killed nearly 2,600 civilians in 2021, a more than 250 percent rise over 2020.” This figure dwarfs the number of civilians killed by Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa Province in the same year.”
“It went on to say that more than 1,000 pupils and school workers were taken between December 2020 and August 2021.” According to state government estimates, 343 individuals were slain within six months, while 830 others were abducted by bandits between July and September 2021 in Kaduna state alone.”
“As of today, all schools in the Federal Capital Territory have been shuttered due to insecurity, and no one expects them to reopen.”
“However, when the district head of Mr President’s hometown of Daura was kidnapped and released after two months, Mallam Garba Shehu was quoted as saying that the “event was evidence that Duara was not receiving preferential treatment and that insecurity was a national concern.”
“In other words, when insecurity manifests itself in the North West, it is a national problem; however, when it manifests itself in the South East, it is blamed on the “community and religious leaders’ inability to speak more forcefully against the killings and to stand up and defend the ethos of the nation’s cultural and religious heritage.”
Ohanaeze stated that Ndigbo are recognised for their hospitality and are not known for insulting their guests, and he urged the President, as the ‘C in C,’ to rise to his responsibilities rather than trade blames.
“We can say without fear of disagreement that the Igbo have the most wanderlust as well as the most welcoming dispositions of any ethnic group in the world.”
“The South East’s non-indigenes enjoy unrivalled friendliness, inter-ethnic assimilation, and a favourable economic environment; what happened to the non-indigenes in the South East is most sad as part of the current national catastrophe.”
“One would believe that the unavoidable results of the coordinated mendacious propaganda, dubiety, deception, sabotage, and serial estrangement against Nigeria’s South East are now in front of us.