Following the army invasion of Nnamdi Kanu’s house, chairman of the South-East Governors’ forum has said Igbo leaders will not abandon the separatist.
Chairman of the South East Governors’ Forum and governor of Ebonyi State, Mr. David Umahi, has said the the leaders of the South-East will not abandon the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu who has been missing since soldiers invaded his house.
In an interview with Sun News, Umahi said Igbo leaders will find a way to reach out to him to avoid the group radicalizing like the dreaded Boko Haram terrorists.
“Our situation is different from Boko Haram situation. But if anybody believes that we will abandon those boys, it is not true. We will still be appealing to them to come back to their leaders, let us sit down and discuss. Kanu somehow raised awareness on this restructuring issue. We must give it to him. We are not going to throw him away; we will still find a way; we will be appealing to the federal government for forgiveness. The word, IPOB, is not in agreement with me because when you say the Indigenous People of Biafra, it has its own connotation. When you say indigenous, if you go to America you talk about the indigenous people of America and that is the Red Indies that founded America. There is no indigenous in this sense. It could be Igbo Youth Movement or association and so on and so forth. So having proscribed that and their activities; of course the federal government says it’s a terror group; we cannot dialogue with them under that name again. They’re our brothers and sisters and it’s a question of getting them to a better level of understanding and partnership.”
Asked about the comment of former President Olusegun Obasanjo advising President Muhammadu Buhari to invite Kanu for a meeting, Umahi said:
“I can’t comment on what one of our much respected leaders said. I don’t have opinion to share on this matter but I say that on our own, Kanu remains our brother. We will wish them to rebrand; we will wish them to come to understanding with the leaders of the South- East. Let’s live our today in peace and then it will be their turn to so that we must create a future for them. So that is what I can say about that.”
Asked about what will happen to anyone that will wear Biafra’s insignia or carry its flag, the Governor replied: “Well, there are two issues here. One is that we have appealed to Mr President to withdraw the soldiers in the South- East region at least for now for temper to cool. I am not the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces; it’s Mr President who is. It is an appeal that we have made to him. It is his constitutional powers and rights. So, I cannot say for certain that Operation Python Dance will not commence in Ebonyi State. I don’t have such powers. But if Mr President views it that in his own opinion that he wants to heed to our appeal, that is good. But specifically in Ebonyi State, we are appealing that everybody should be law-abiding. There’s no nation inside a nation. Even if you want Biafra, you have to get it first; become a nation before you start putting up your flag, owning your own secret service and so on and so forth.
“So far the members of Indigenous People of Biafra can still go to the Nigeria courts on their own, it means the sovereignty of Nigeria still stands and it’s binding on everybody; and as such everybody must submit to the law of that country, Nigeria. That’s what I want to say. My appeal is that our youths should not do anything that will be against the law. That is my appeal.
“And for the army, if the Python Dance is to go on in Ebonyi State the Acting Commander is here and I have instructed, as the Chief Security Officer of the state that it must be done within the rules of engagement; that Ebonyi people must not be harassed; they must not be undue stress on them. If they want to carryout operation anywhere, none of us here wants to be kidnapped; none of us wants to be attacked by the armed robbers. They must be given cooperation to do that. So, this is our measures to know that there is peace.”
When asked why Fulani herdsmen who have been causing havoc in the country walk about freely without being declared a terrorist group, the Governor responded: “We asked the General Officer Commanding [GOC] this question. I don’t have the details but the one I can remember is the Crocodile Smile in the Niger Delta. People were not killed. They gave me another kind of dance that was done in Ondo State. He mentioned not less than ten that had happened. They just call it anything. It’s a way of just having a name to go and do operation. If the herdsmen are targeting the South East, we wouldn’t have the problem in Zamfara, Benue and others. It is the way God wants it. When you find yourself in a certain position, you’ll have to find a way of solving the problem.
“Is the agitation for Biafra because of the herdsmen? The answer is no. The question I will leave to our people is: what is it that we really want? We have to define means of knowing what we want. Our people should go back to hard work and determination which we are known for. It is God that blesses people. God can decide to deposit a lot of gold in the South East. So let’s go back to hard work.
“When people say that they want to have Biafra, I laugh. This is because if IPOB had ensured that there was no single kidnap in the South East; ensured that there was no single killing of people, armed robbery and all that, people can begin to say that these people can rule themselves. Look at the level of cultism, armed robbery in the South East. There a lot of atrocities that is happening. It shows that we cannot even rule ourselves if we are to become Biafra. Let us go back to hard work which Igbo people are known for. Our forefathers bequeathed hard work, honesty, commitment to duties and all good virtues. Let us go back to them. God has given us wisdom. Let us explore it. Let us not be pushed into war by people who we think are sympathetic to our course only to be left in the blues. It has happened before. Let it not happen again. We are wiser and better now.”
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