AS the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) visits Imo State today (Thursday), the police have warned troublemakers to stay away from the state or risk the wrath of security operatives.
This was as the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra surprisingly issued a sit-at-home order in Imo and four other southeastern states in an apparent disapproval of the President’s visit.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Mike Abattam, who spoke with The PUNCH in a telephone interview on Wednesday, specifically cautioned that its operatives and those of other sister agencies would be on the ground to deal with mischief makers during and after the President’s visit.
He said, “The security arrangements are perfect; the arrangements are maximum. As usual, we prepared to secure lives and property of the people of the state. We have informed troublemakers to vacate the state because we will deal ruthlessly with anybody who disturbs the peace of the state tomorrow (today) and going forward.”
In a related development, there was uncertainty over the sit-at-home declared by the Indigenous People of Biafra.
Earlier on Wednesday, IPOB, in declaring a sit-at-home protest in the South-East against Buhari’s visit to Imo State, warned leaders and every Igbo citizen to stay away from any ceremony organised by the State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, to welcome Buhari.
The pro-Biafra group’s Director of State, Chika Edoziem, announced the protest in a Radio Biafra Broadcast monitored by one of our correspondents.
He said, “Buhari is not welcome to Imo on Thursday, September 9, 2021.”
He said there would be “total lockdown of Biafraland” tomorrow.
Edoziem warned that severe consequences would await Igbo leaders, including traditional rulers, Ohanaeze Ndigbo leaders, women and youth groups, who dared came to welcome the President during the visit.
But later, there was a statement purportedly issued by IPOB’s Head of Directorate of State, Chike Edoziem, where the pro-Biafra group dismissed claims that it ordered sit-at-home in Imo and other parts of South-East.
Buhari’s visit to Igboland proves he is father of the nation – Ohanaeze
But the President-general of the Igbo apex socio-cultural group, Prof. George Obiozor, said President Buhari’s visit to the Imo State was an indication that he remained the father of the nation.
In a statement issued on Wednesday through the National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, he (Obiozor) described a purported report in some social media credited to “one Chief Chidi Ibeh, acclaimed President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo General Assembly”, that the Ohanaeze Ndigbo was at odds with the planned visit of the President as wicked and unimaginable, adding that “nothing can be more dishonest than this.”
“By this visit, the President has proven, beyond doubts, that he is the father of the nation. We are persuaded that this landmark visit to the South-East of Nigeria by Mr. President is critical and a turning point in the Igbo political history,” the statement read in part.
Meanwhile, the Imo State Government said Buhari visit to Imo State would advance the socio-economic well-being of the people of the state and the South-East at large.
The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba, who briefed journalists on Wednesday, stressed, “The visit of Mr. President will profit the people of the state and will advance the socio-economic well-being of the people, state and the entire geopolitical zone.”
He further said Buhari would use the visit to inaugurate four projects in the state; Naze-Ihagwa–Nekede-Obinze Road, balloon technology driven tunnel project, Egbeada Bypass and Government House ultra-modern executive council chambers.
Demand Kanu’s release, MASSOB tells S’East leaders
In a related development, the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra charged Igbo leaders to take advantage of the President’s visit to Imo to redeem themselves by demanding the release of IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, from detention.
It said that the demand became imperative because of the inhumane treatment and torture the IPOB leader had been subjected to at the DSS “detention cage” because of Ndigbo.
This was contained in a statement on Wednesday by the pro-Biafra group titled, ‘Demand Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s release now’, by its National Director of Information, Samuel Edeson.
MASSOB urged the Igbo political leaders to use the Buhari’s visit to revive the lost confidence and hope Ndigbo had in them by telling Buhari that Ndigbo were not being treated as citizens.
I took risks by joining APC, says Okorocha
Speaking, a former governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, recalled how he took a political risk by agreeing to be part of the formation of the All Progressives Congress.
Okorocha said he joined the APC at the risk of winning a re-election, stating that those who chastised him were the people enjoying the benefits of his political risk.
This was contained in a statement by his media aide, Sam Onwuemeodo, welcoming the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to the state.