FG, Southeast leaders’ parley rejects secession agitation – Magaji says




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Abuja – A high powered Federal Government delegation, led by the Defence Minister, Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi, was on Friday sent to the Southeast to discuss growing tension in the land and the other crucial issues. The delegation met with the Southeast governors and other leaders of the political, religious and traditional institutions in the region at Enugu State .

The delegation, which had the Interior Minister, Rauf Aregbesola and Service Chiefs, engaged the Igbo leaders in several hours at a closed-door meeting on security challenges.

Addressing journalists after the meeting in Enugu, Magashi said the meeting discussed, amongst other issues, the problem of marginalisation, which the people of Southeast had been complaining of since the inception of the Buhari administration, saying that further discussion would continue on the matter upon their return to Abuja to brief the president.

He said, “we have agreed on the following items: That the Southeast governors and the Southwest have committed to the unity and stability of this great country. And we are giving them the assurance and confidence that this commitment will be relayed to the Federal Government and in fact, the Commander-in-Chief himself.o

“Issues raised comprise the instability and the criminality affecting the country in general. And we are happy to discuss the ones that are peculiar to this part of the country. We have agreed that there are fundamental issues that need to be addressed. I will just mention one or two for your consumption; one, the farmers/herders conflict should be seen from the perspective of national interest that should be given the necessary accord that will stop this menace all over the country.

“Second, we discussed the problem of marginalisation which I think is well accepted but further discussion will continue after we have met with Mr. President to see the grievances and after the governors articulate their position, then we can further hold discussion on it.

“We have also talked about community policing which is in vogue now in by state governments and we are of the opinion that such community policing by the Southeast governors should be encouraged. Of course, we have already set precedence in Amotekun in the western part of the country.

“We appreciate our discussions; we are much humbled and I think each of us, the governors, the elders and the religious leaders; we are able to say one or two things. People following the news will remember that the leader of our country was in the air two days ago and he has said what probably we would like to say… I think we will put our heads together to see that peace and stability of this nation is brought back to normalcy in no time.

“We are appealing to the media also to look at the positive side of the government and encourage us to pursue legitimately in which we can bring peace and stability in this country”.

Chairman of the Southeast Governors Forum and Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi, described the move as a new dawn not only in the Southeast but in the entire Nigeria.

Umahi commended the presidency for making an attempt to identify the nature and source of the current conflict, saying that was the best way of resolving conflicts.

The governor said Ndigbo were committed to a united Nigeria of fairness, equity, justice and equality of freedom.

Umahi said, “Our people are very much excited with this commitment and we are very much satisfied. I want to thank you very much and for me and each of us, this is a sincere commitment. It is a new dawn not only in the Southeast but in the entire Nigeria.

“We want to put it very clearly that the Ebubeagu security outfit is the only recognised local security outfit in the Southeast; that no other security outfit is speaking for Southeast and this is the position of Ndigbo.

“We are committed to one united Nigeria; we have always mentioned this. All our leaders are committed to this and that is why we live everywhere. A united Nigeria of fairness, equity, justice and equality of freedom and this we have further expressed and we are committed to this.

“It is important that we come out strongly and openly to advise the leaders of this country to mind the way we speak so we do not put this country into crisis. Thank you for raising concern about hate speeches. This is very important. Those who dish out hate speeches from our region also or threat of violence or threat of secession, do not speak for the Southeast. I repeat, we Southeast people are not for secession; we don’t support it and we don’t call for it”.

While condemning the killing of security men in the Southeast and the killing of innocent Southeast people, Umahi said Southeast governors are doing everything possible to ensure the safety of their people and the security agencies.

“We finally appeal to our people to continue to engage our youths in a way of correcting them, in a way of stopping few people from dancing without knowledge while we do our meeting by 19th of this month to further articulate our demands in line with the position of Ohanaeze Ndigbo and governors and our leaders; and we will contact the honorable minister for further engagement after which we will be able to select people to see Mr. President,” he said.

Enugu State governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, in his welcome address, described the Town Hall meeting as timely and apt, expressing optimism that the outcome of the meeting will engender the watershed to the security challenges in the Southeast zone.

Other Southeast leaders in the meeting included governors of Abia and states, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu and Senator Hope Uzodinma respectively, Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Nkem Okeke, the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe and the Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Hon. Uchechukwu Ogah.

Others are the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Prof. George Obiozor, former President of the Senate, Senator Ken Nnamani, Senator Ike Ekweramadu, Deputy Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Toby Okechukwu, Speaker of Enugu State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Edward Ubosi, former Governor of old Enugu State, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyawu, Chief Nnia Nwodo, Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Southeast, among others. (Nation).