Igbo leaders oppose secession, ask for troop withdrawal

The leaders of the South-East and a delegation from the Federal Government have re-emphasised Nigeria’s unity while rejecting calls for secession.

The decision was taken at the end of a meeting between governors and representatives of President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday in Enugu to address the growing insecurity in the  South East.

Igbo elders in Abuja also urged the president to stop the militarization and widespread killings in the South East and create more room for dialogue.

Security facilities and agencies have been destroyed by ‘unknown gunmen’ believed to be affiliated with the indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a group fighting for a separate state in Biafra. This led to the deployment of military units in  the zone.

Ebonyi State Governor and Chairman of the South East Governors Forum, David Umahi, addressed the meeting, telling the federal delegation that Ndigbo condemned the attacks by unknown gunmen on security operatives, public institutions and the destruction of police stations in the region.

According to Umahi, the zone’s leaders have agreed to meet on the 19th of June to express grievances and concerns to the president after which they will nominate people to attend the meeting.

Umahi noted that the federal delegation supported the ban on open grazing and that the zone is satisfied with the federal government’s willingness to tackle the issue.

The newly formed Ebubeagu security outfit, set up by the five governors of the zone, is the only recognized local security outfit, adding that “no other security outfit speaks for the southeast.”. This is the position of Ndigbo.”

As early as yesterday, the leader of the federal delegation, and Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi, told the gathering that they were in Enugu at the behest of President Muhammadu Buhari to find a solution to the insecurity in the zone.

He pledged to convey the message to the president for further discussion on the issues of marginalization and community policing in the zone.

Elders decry carnage

In a statement by Dr Chukuemeka Ezeife, Prof C.E. Nwekeaku, Prof Ihechukwu Madubuike, Barr Onwu Arua Onwu, and the Eze Ndigbo of Abuja, Dr Eze Ibe Nwosu, said the military operation has killed over 5,000 youths and incarcerated over 10,000 in various facilities, causing untold hardship to innocent citizens.

The elders attributed the indiscriminate arrests to orders issued on May 19 by the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba Alkali, to “take the battle to them and kill them all, and don’t “, and enforced disappearances of hundreds of persons without “opportunity of burial”, a revered custom of Igbos.

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