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EDITORIAL

Not Again! Sheathe your swords

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Owerri and the unexpected

Imo State and the South East were generally peaceful. Not too long ago, people were literally running to Owerri and other South East towns for safety as a result of unrest in several parts of the country. Some had pockets of violence; others were boiling outright, but Imo State, in particular was calm.  People fled to sleepy little Owerri, so to speak, for peace of mind.  Surprisingly, things are different now. We hope and pray it won’t be long before Owerri, particularly, is returned to what it used to be: a peaceful place.  The situation is disturbing.

The new wave of “one night one trouble” is worrying.  It arguably began with the mayhem in Orlu, about two months ago, where several innocent people lost their lives. Soldiers and Eastern Security Network (ESN) clashed and several innocent people died. While, we are still trying to understand what was going on, police headquarters, located opposite Government House was razed. Inmates were released at the Federal Correctional Centre, Owerri. Other ugly incidents occurred and then we woke up to a sudden attack at the country home of Governor Hope Uzodimma. Lives were lost and property destroyed.   A police station at Mbano was burnt, the very next day and a dozen or so policemen killed.  This is sad.

Other South East States had their share of such atrocities Anambra, which is at the verge of an election, has been on fire and we cannot forget the killings in Ebonyi, Enugu and Obigbo in Rivers State.  Those killed are Ndigbo, we must not forget.  Every life lost or property destroyed weakens us.

It is no longer news that Fulani herdsmen are a big threat to Nigeria, South East for sure. They are eyeing our farmlands and reportedly planning an attack. What is happening in Benue and Niger is a proof.

But in addition to the herdsmen threat, we also have unknown gunmen. Everything is pointing to killing and destruction. Who are the “unknown gunmen” and what is their mission?  Governor Uzodimma said the attacks were politically motivated. If so, who are the politicians and are they true sons and daughters of Igboland?  Do they think they will be spared grief and agony if they set Igboland on fire?

We are calling on the South East to unite. We are asking South East governors and Igbo leaders to read the writing on the wall. They must dialogue with various interest groups in order to find  a lasting solution to this mayhem.  Targeting and killing the police does not create a good image  for people who genuinely desire peace. Attacking security outfits and weakening the police is a recipe for doom.

Whatever security network we have must put the real interest of the South East first. Whether it is Ebube Agu, Ogbunigwe or Eastern Security Network, our common survival as Ndigbo is key.  Need we say we are a hated people in Nigeria? South East governors, Ohaneze, Religious leaders and every interest group must unite and face this unhealthy development. A divided Ndigbo is a defeated South East.

Onyeaghalanwanneya must become the watchword.

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EDITORIAL

IPOB – Giving a dog a bad name

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IPOB - Giving a dog a bad name

They say things go wrong when good people keep silent. This is why we think the recent press release issued by law makers of Imo State House of Assembly, is good although belated. The release dated June 5th and signed by Hon Engr Duru Iheonukara Johnson, Chairman House Committee on Information, spoke on the scary security situation in the state. It correctly identified the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), called for calm, advised the youth and urged stakeholders to dialogue in the interest of peace. 

 A popular proverb says that when you want to hang a dog you first give it a bad name. This is to justify the deed and neutralize the effect.  Undoubtedly, IPOB is going through a similar experience.

 As far as we know the group is displeased with the continuous suppression of Ndigbo and wants self determination.  Unlike, Boko Haram, another group of angry people but born in the North, IPOB has no religious motive or plan to “dip the Bible into any ocean”. It does not seek to steal, kill, destroy, conquer or take over the whole Nigeria and rule it.  IPOB is just tired of the South-East being treated as second class citizens in a country where everyone is supposedly equal. The world calls the likes of IPOB “agitators” or “separatist group” but the Federal Government calls IPOB “terrorists” and proscribed it.

On the other hand, Boko Haram, an offshoot of the Islamic State Isis, described by the civilized world and global community as “The third most dreaded terrorist organization in the world,” has no derogatory word attached to it, neither is it proscribed by the Nigerian Government.

Nigerians and the world know what mayhem Boko Haram is causing in the North, Borno State in particular.  Recently, it took over parts of Niger State and hoisted its flag. In fact, President Buhari was voted into power to crush Boko Haram and free Nigeria.  But to the Buhari Government, Boko Haram is not a terrorist organization but IPOB is. Little wonder the battle against the terrorist Boko Haram has not been won. Government is romancing with them, as bandits, Fulani herdsmen et cetera and clamping down on IPOB looking for justice.

The world is aware of the duplicity. We can tell from their actions and media reports. But some of our people are unaware of the double standard of the Federal Government and that is why we find the press release of the Imo State House of Assembly apt. .

In the release, IMHA said they “have it on good authority that IPOB and the ESN to our knowledge and understanding are not organizations founded on the principles of violence and armed insurrection, rather advocates of Igbo liberation and security through peaceful, non-violent means.”

They said what is happening in Imo is politically motivated. This agrees with an earlier statement by Governor Hope Uzodimma.

Let the Federal Government chew on that.

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EDITORIAL

Terrorizing our youths

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Terrorizing our youths

No one had seen such abuse of the gun by soldiers, here, before. No one believed trusted authority, supposed security officers, could attempt to waste innocent lives in that way. But they did in Imo State – a bold-faced assault on defenseless citizens!

What took place in Owerri, last week, the sporadic shootings and killings, were a rude shock and a sad reminder of what Ndigbo would like to forget. The people are not at war with anyone and did not expect such a thing. A State of once proud people but now filled with unemployed youths was further plunged into sadness by solders brought from Abuja supposedly to fight crime – the so-called unknown gunmen-who were burning down police stations, INEC offices etc.

But rather than tackle the gunmen, the soldiers seemingly criminalized every Imolite, arresting, beating, stabbing and shooting just about any unfortunate person. The majority of the victims were young men, some of them students.

What happened in Orlu, Ogboshishi in Owerri and Mbaise will remain with Imolites for a long time. We do not understand why soldiers, driving around and probably searching for criminals would choose to shoot at cars and people. Even when those people ran for safety, they were still shot at. Some were wounded, some arrested and some escaped. But the majority of those arrested or shot were young men. The soldiers threw them into their vehicles and went their merry way, still shooting, though. Our question is, is that how it works? What have these young men done?

One of the ugly cases that went viral was a food vendor preparing food with her adult son. Mother and son were trying to serve food to two males and in came the soldiers. According to the woman, who spoke live on Oziza 96.1Fm, they stabbed one of the men severally in the back and arrested two others, including the woman’s son. The woman reported that one of the men who raised his hands and declared that he is not Igbo was still arrested but not stabbed or beaten. The question is, are the soldiers here to fight crime or to destroy our young men?

We ignore rumours of some youths being wasted at midnight in police cells. The police deny this, and we dismiss it as fake news. However, the case of the soldiers going into students hostels and arresting young men is cause for concern.

We agree with the police that anyone found at a crime scene is a suspect. However, a situation where the police arrive hours after a crime and round up people after the criminals have fled is disturbing. Again, we agree that the police may arrest people for questioning and release them afterwards. But what we know is that once arrested, one pays dearly to regain freedom, even when innocence has been supremely established.

We are worried that innocent lives are being lost in vain.

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EDITORIAL

Ban on open grazing: Kudos to Southern Governors

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Ban on open grazing: Kudos to Southern Governors

The collective ban on open grazing by Southern Governors is a landmark decision. Although belated, we commend the Governors for meeting, discussing and uniting, for the first time, on an issue. They dared to take a stand on a matter that has ridiculed Nigeria before the nations.

It is important to note that the 17 Governors met, not along ethnic, religious, or political lines but socio-economic, to take decisions without fear of intimidation by the godfathers. This shows that a better society is possible. That is, a society where the common good overrides other considerations.
However, we note with concern the reaction of President Muhammadu Buhari or the Presidency, as the office is addressed, when Malam Garba Shehu , the President’s spokesman on media and publicity, is seemingly reading his own script. His position is strange and laughable. Rather than commend the Governors and respect their unanimous view, Mallam Shehu angrily told them their decision is illegal and violated the rights of every Nigerian to live and do business in any part of the country. Mallam Shehu could not hide his surprise that Governors spoke with one voice. He spoke as if the problem with open grazing was that of the right of every Nigerian to “do business in another part” rather than some Nigerians and their foreign kinsmen wanting to destroy others and take over their land.

Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami also told the governors that their decision was unconstitutional. He advised them to seek a review of the 1999 constitution if they want to ban open grazing. One may conclude that Malami is suggesting that things should be left as they are until the 1999 constitution is amended.

We take solace in Governor Akeredolu’s, his fellow SAN’s response that the Governors decision is irreversible.

It is clear that much of the insecurity plaguing Nigeria is as a result of the Fulani killer herdsmen attempting to take over farmlands, forests and sections of the South-South , South West and South-East.
For several years now, people have been crying out over activities of these herdsmen, wreaking havoc on other people’s means of livelihood. Hundreds have lost their lives in the hands of these killers and neither Garba nor Malami has reminded anyone that all Nigerians are equal under the constitution and that each life is important. Instead, Shehu is telling us that the presidency will commence partial implementation of its plan to set up grazing reserves, starting from June in so-called willing states.
We know that no Southern state will be willing to share its land with killer Fulani herders, local and foreign, whose game plan is to slaughter and settle.

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LEAD STORY JUNE 13

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