Osinbajo meets Abia gov, IGP over agitation
As part of efforts to calm frayed nerves in the troubled South East region, President Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday, met behind closed doors with the Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja.
Osinbajo also met with the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris.
Ikpeazu said he was in the Villa to brief the VP on the IPOB crisis and other related issues in his state, but refused to reveal details of the discusion.
However, he said the visit by the northern governors represented by the governors of Borno, Kebbi, Katsina, Plateau and Sokoto on Monday, was reassuring.
Asked what was discussed, Ikpeazu said: “Well, I assured them of safety of lives and property of everybody that resides in Abia, whether you are an Abian or not. I swore with the Bible to protect lives and property and because I take such things seriously, I will continue to protect the lives and property of my brothers and sisters irrespective of where they come from. You know that the mainstay of our economy in Abia State is trade and commerce and I do not think it will augur well for our economy if we make our kitchen the theatre of Biafra.
“A native wisdom in my place says you shouldn’t allow fight to ensue from your mother’s kitchen. It’s my responsibility also to grow prosperity from my state.”
On allegations that IPOB crisis was sparked by failure of leadership in the region, Ikpeazu replied: “Allegations are supposed to be investigated by investigative officers and I’m not trying to investigate such things, so it’s just the masses, especially the press. We are perception builders; we should try to say things that are good about our country not things that are bad. I think there are enough reasons to see that under our circumstance that we may not be in Eldorado yet, but there are concerted efforts and attempts to make our place a better place…”
He added: “Nigerians know that for sometime now, this group called IPOB were agitating for a separate nation called Biafra and that the home state of the leader of that group happens to be Abia State. As expected, when such things happen there is an interface between some members of that group and the military, and the theatre was Abia State. And some people attempted to hijack that event to conflagrate our country. To the glory of God the rest is history, we are still working to stabilise the fragile peace in the region.”
He appealed to those demanding the dethronement of Nnamdi Kanu’s father, Eze Israel Kanu, the traditional ruler of Isiama Afara Ukwu Ibeku, to tread with caution. The monarch, he noted, belonged to committee of traditional rulers in the state, whose leadership was better placed to deal with that issue at the appropriate time.
Notwithstanding its designation as a terrorist outfit and proscription of its activities, IPOB pledged commitment to non-violence and unarmed struggle for self-determination.
A statement by its Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, said the clarification and assurance became necessary as a result of an alleged burning of a Mosque in an Enugu community by suspected IPOB members.
“IPOB is not unaware of the desperation of the Nigerian Army of occupation to cause mayhem and blame it on IPOB as a way of instigating counter-violence against southerners in the North. The aim of this army of occupation is to distract our focus and firm resolve to force a peaceful referendum within the law. No amount of violence visited on our family members will dissuade us from this historic and legitimate course.
“Biafrans in particular and Nigerians in general should, therefore, blame any of such attacks on criminals gangs assembled by South East governors and Federal Government-sponsored gangs who are baying for blood and whose aim is to cause misunderstanding between law-abiding Biafrans and other ethnic nationalities in Nigeria.