Ohanaeze in the presidency: It is an ethnic prejudice to insinuate that the Igbo know of armed men in the southeast
Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the Igbo umbrella socio-political organization, accused the presidency of “ethnic bias” regarding the latter’s recent commentary on the attacks in the southeast.
Communities in the southeast have been the target of attacks in recent months, the latest being an invasion of a police station in Agwa, Oguta LGA of Imo State, which resulted in the death of four officers.
In another attack reportedly on August 1, Nigeriens were reportedly killed in the community of Orogwe in Owerri, the capital of Imo.
Reacting to the attacks in a statement by Garba Shehu, his spokesperson, SaturdayPresident Muhammadu Buhari reportedly said “those in the know should point fingers at specific people who did this”.
However, in a statement on Monday, Chiedozie Ogbonnia, spokesperson for Ohanaeze, said protecting lives and property was the government’s responsibility.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide joins the Presidency and the good people of Nigeria in condemning this despicable act that took place in Imo State, South Eastern Nigeria. Ohanaeze has repeatedly explained that among the Igbo people, human life is very sacred,” the statement read.
“The sanctity of life is so high that the murder of a human being, under any circumstances, is considered an abomination. In fact, it is not in the character of the Igbo to kill in any disguise.
“These recent developments are indeed very foreign to the reflexes, culture and standards of the Southeast. And we have often called on Nigerian security officers to ensure that the perpetrators of such acts are brought to justice to deter others. Certainly, the failure of Nigerian security agents to pick up the criminals cannot be blamed on the Igbo.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo, however, frowns at the presidency’s statement that is nuanced against the Southeast as a haven for terrorists who attack non-indigenous people and law enforcement officials; implying that insecurity persists because the leaders have not spoken out forcefully. This is very unfair to the Igbo especially when the presidency knows the root cause and nature of the insecurity in the South East.
“It should be added that the solution to insecurity in the Southeast lies in the enormous powers of the presidency. The above remarks from the presidency seem to have ignored the protracted open war with Boko Haram in the North East; banditry in the northwest, particularly in Katsina State; the invasion of Fulani herdsmen from several communities in the Middle Belt region; the massacre of the Church at Owo; the daily kidnappings on our highways; the abduction of the Kaduna-Abuja train.
“How do you fight insecurity by appointing service chiefs based on ethnocentric and religious considerations against the best global practices of military proficiency?” In other words, how can the South East be excluded among the more than 16 service chiefs of the Nigerian Armed and Paramilitary Forces and expect insecurity not to escalate?
“It is highly uncharitable, even malicious, to poison minds indiscriminately by insinuating that non-natives and security officials are being killed by terrorists in the South East.
“On the other hand, appropriating the national issues of South East Nigeria is ethnic bias taken too far. Invariably, banditry in the center-north persists because their leaders have not spoken forcefully or rather they are publicly celebrated and turbaned or else they have been offered the Sheik Gumi option.
This story is published in partnership with Report for the World, a global service program that supports local public interest journalism.