By Steve Oko
The apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, has dismissed as “a lie from the pit of hell” a media publication that “over 100 northerners were killed in the South-East last week”.
Ohanaeze, in a terse press statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Dr Alex Ogbonnia, called for the investigation of the “alarmists”, to compel them to show proof of the wild allegation.
The apex Igbo body, which said that making such bogus and untenable allegations capable of setting the country on fire, should not be treated with levity, urged security agencies to arrest those behind the false allegation and publication to substantiate their claims.
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The statement made available to Vanguard read: “The attention of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide has been drawn to the front page report by a newspaper on Friday, to the effect that the Coordinator of the Northern Consensus Forum, Dr Auwal Abdullahi Aliyu and others have directed commodity traders and truck drivers to shun the South-East of Nigeria over incessant killings of their members by members of the outlawed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB).
“They have declared three days warning strike due to the constant killing of the northerners in the South East.
“The most disturbing part of the report is that ‘not less than 100 northerners were murdered in the South-East within last week’.
“In the first place, it is a lie from the pit of hell that ‘not less than 100 northerners were murdered in the South East within last week’.
“The said Dr. Aliyu has not been in the picture among the Northern leaders resident in the South East and as such is not in position to speak on the relationship between the Northerners and the people of the South-East.
“One begins to imagine the very intendment of the purveyor of such a false, mendacious and devilish alarm.
“An introspection will reveal the damage caused on the image of Nigeria among the committee of nations that 100 persons are killed in one week.
“And many more questions that ordinarily will compel the security agents to interrogate the said Coordinator of the Northern Consensus Forum, Dr Auwal Abdullahi Aliyu and adequate measures taken to serve as a deterrent to other alarmists.”
Ohanaeze noted that there had been unrest in the South-East just as other parts of the country are also experiencing restiveness, but said it would be unfair to make unfounded claims using it as an excuse.
“There is no gainsaying the relentless efforts of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the clergy, traditional rulers and indeed all the well- meaning Igbo about the adverse consequences of youth restiveness in the South-East.
“We have in that trepidation repeatedly called on the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, to come to our aid by adopting a political solution to the agitations by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB).
“We note with sadness, that various forms of insecurity such as banditry, kidnapping, herders-farmers clash, etc have come to define our daily lives. We hold the view that while some aspects of the insecurity in Nigeria are amorphous, the IPOB are a known group that can be negotiated out of the present socio-economic quagmire.”
Ohanaeze further claimed that the publication was politically motivated and possibly targeted against the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, who is gaining popularity and acceptance across the country.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the alarmist publication in question is politically motivated to create mistrust between the North and the South.
It is important to inform the “new-breed” chauvinists that the Igbo friendliness, hospitality and cosmopolitanism have often found profound expressions in diverse inter-ethnic relations in Nigeria.
” For instance, a Fulani man from Sokoto Caliphate – Mallam Umaru Altine, was in 1952 elected as the first Mayor of the City of Enugu, the heartbeat of the Igbo Nation. He contested for a second term and won and remained in office till 1958.
While urging the northerners to continue their cordial relationship with the Igbo, Ohanaeze restated that “the incessant sit-at-home in the South-East is an ill wind that blows nobody any good.”
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