Gulak: Ohanaeze condemns Northern elders South-East travel ban over IPOB, killings

By AdvocateNews on 01/06/2021

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The Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide has faulted the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF)'s advice to Northerners to be cautious of travels to the South East following the murder of Ahmed Gulak.

Chief Alex Ogbonnia, National Publicity Secretary of the apex Igbo organization, in a statement said it was unfortunate that Audu Ogbeh, who has gained the respect of many as a detribalized patriot, issued the advisory.

Ogbeh had said unless the trips are absolutely necessary and of compelling nature, “like matters of life and death, they should not be made”.

The spokesman condemned the narrative that the South East has been taken over by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and unknown gunmen.

Ogbonnia stressed that the gruesome assassination of Gulak is painful and has been condemned in strong terms by Governor Hope Uzodinma, Imo people and groups including Ohanaeze.

Ohanaeze hailed the Northern Governors Forum for demanding that the murder be treated as a criminal act and warning that politicization of issues surrounding the death could lead to further violence in Nigeria.

Ogbonnia cited the fresh abduction of over 200 school children in Niger State, killings in Northern States, and wondered why the ACF singled out the South East as a no-go-area for the Northerners.

The full statement by Ogbonna read:

THE TRAVEL BAN TO THE SOUTH EAST BY THE AREWA CONSULTATIVE FORUM (ACF)

The attention of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide has been drawn to a press release by the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), asking the Northerners to be cautious of travels to the South East of Nigeria. It is really doubtful if Chief Audu Ogbe, a man who has gained the respect of many as a detribalized northern patriot could issue such a sinister press release. Part of the release reads “the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) hereby issues a very strong advisory to all northerners who may wish to travel to the South East to weigh the importance and necessity of such travels”.  Adding that “unless such trips are absolutely necessary and of compelling nature, like matters of life and death, they should not be made”.

This is a reaction to the heinous murder of Alhaji Ahmed Gulak. It is worth repeating that the gruesome assassination of Alhaji Ahmed Gulak is very painful to all and has been condemned in very strong terms by Governor Hope Uzodinma, people of Imo State and indeed all the leaders of thought in Igbo Land, including the apex socio-cultural body of the Igbos, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide. On behalf of Ndigbo, we commend the Chairman, Northern Governors Forum and the Governor of Plateau State, Mr. Simon Lalong, who admonished that “the awful incident should be treated as a criminal act, warning that politicization of issues surrounding the death of Gulak could lead to further violence in Nigeria”.

Evidently, for over a month, the South East which has been variously described as the most peaceful geopolitical zone in Nigeria is facing sophisticated security challenges but nevertheless should be isolated from the security challenges facing the other parts of the country. In today’s newspapers, it is reported that over 200 school children were abducted in Niger State; the North Central, Benue State in particular, has turned into a killing field; Katsina State in the North West is noted for banditry; the Boko Haram insurgency has engaged the North East for years; etc. One wonders why the ACF should single out the South East as a no-go-area for the Northerners.

In the above mentioned flash points, the Boko Haram insurgents, bandits, kidnappers, unknown gun men, Fulani herdsmen, etc, have not shown discretion in their attacks. They have not been selective on the state of origin of their victims. On the other hand, several persons of various ethnic groups have lost their lives in the security challenges facing Nigeria as a whole. The admonition by Lalong, that the death of Gulak should not be politicized is therefore a tribute to leadership quality.

The reference by Chief Ogbe to the “the killings of northern leaders in 1966 that  triggered the events that led to a civil war that cost the country thousands of lives and an untold sufferings to millions of innocent people” is to say the least very inflammatory, incendiary, unreflective and unguarded.

It should be noted that Igbos have suffered immeasurably in the current Nigerian dilemma. In Nimbo community of Enugu State, at about 5.15 am on April 25, 2016, the armed herdsmen numbering over 500 struck, killing 54 people. The Governor of Enugu State, Rt Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi in his maturity, pleaded with the indigenes to accept the incident as an act of God. On March 30, 2021, Egedege community in Ebonyi State witnessed a horrendous sight of 18 persons slaughtered by the Fulani herdsmen. Governor Dave Umahi could not withhold his tears as he saw the 18 corpses of Ebonyi State indigenes killed spread like fish in the cold room. Today May 31, 2021, the Commissioner for Capital City Development in Ebonyi State, Onyekachi Nwebonyi, stated: “we got a very sad news yesterday morning that armed herdsmen invaded Izzi land particularly in a place called Ndiobashi and killed so many of our people. The commissioner added that over 30 bodies have been evacuated from bushes around the affected communities”. The Nation Newspapers records that “about 50 indigenes of the area were killed by the Fulani at the Ndiobashi mass slaughter.” This is the reality of today Nigeria but in all these, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the Igbo leaders have called for restraint and warned against reprisal attacks.

It cannot be denied of the Igbo that they are the most outreaching and adaptable, as well as the most hospitable ethnic group with insurable interests in all parts of Nigeria. The Igbo large heart and magnanimity has variously been proved beyond reasonable doubt. For instance, Mallam Umaru Altine who hailed from the old Sokoto Province of the defunct Northern Region was elected as the President of the Enugu Branch of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC). He was later elected the first Mayor of Enugu in 1956.  Alhaji Altine stood another election in 1959 with an Igbo man and was overwhelmingly voted for. That is the Igbo spirit for fairness and universalism.

Chief Audu Ogbe and the ACF are reminded that it is rather the federating capacity of the Igbo, their equanimity, fortitude and readiness to adapt to every part of Nigeria, as a home, that has served as the salt without which the concept of Nigeria becomes tasteless.

It is noteworthy that Ogbe recognized that Nigeria is facing “serious national crisis”. He wondered why “the entire narrative from the South East has been taken over by IPOB and so-called unknown gunmen to the exclusion of established leaders”. Let it be known that what binds the “established leaders” and the followers in the South East is the obvious orchestrated marginalization and existential threat against them. But history shows that no condition is permanent.

Ohanaeze Ndigbo rates the statement by Chief Ogbe as baleful. Nigerian government authorities and patriots are called upon to hold Ogbe responsible because his remarks are capable of rocking the already precarious boat. It is strange that the leaders that have gained everything from Nigeria are always the first to set it on fire.

Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia, National Publicity Secretary, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide

Posted 01/06/2021 12:39:16 PM

 

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