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Ekwulobia begins fasting, prayer over Boko Haram

By Kodilinye Obiagwu (Enugu) and Oluwaseun Uche Awa (Lagos)
10 July 2015   |   4:08 am
INDIGENES and residents of Ekwulobia in Aguata council of Anambra State have taken their grief God in fasting and prayers programme over the transfer of detained members of the Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram, to their community.
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Anglican Bishop of Awka Diocese, Rt. Rev Alexander Ibezim (left), the Obi of Onitsha, His Royal Majesty, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, Governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano, the Catholic Bishop of Awka, Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor, and President-General of AMATAS, Okwudili Ezenwankwo, after their closed-door meeting with a delegation from the Presidency at the Government House, Awka…yesterday PHOTO: Uzoma Nzeagwu

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INDIGENES and residents of Ekwulobia in Aguata council of Anambra State have taken their grief God in fasting and prayers programme over the transfer of detained members of the Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram, to their community.

They appealed to the Federal Government to relocate the terrorists recently transferred to the Ekwulobia Prisons. Similarly, Lagos-based Igbo groups have joined their home governors to condemn and reject the relocation of the detained terrorists to the South East.

Also, the Igbo Progressive Leaders Council, in conjunction with Igbo Vision in the All Progressives Congress (APC), has applauded the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, for appointing Peter Okonji as Head of Lagos Electricity Board.

They also commended the state government for taking over the responsibility of an Igbo lady, Mrs. Ruth Uche, who gave birth to another set of triplets and got abandoned by her husband. And as fear and uncertainty envelop the town, the traditional ruler, Ezejiofor II, Emmanuel Chukwukadibia Onyeneke, said the community could only beg and pray, stating: “We cannot fight the government or the prison authorities if things remain this way.

But this will be unfair. “We have declared fasting and prayers for three weeks, we will fast till the end of this month, after which we will gather again and reassess the situation. We are up against something bigger than us, so we are only begging the government to reconsider its stand and relocate these prisoners.” Describing the incarceration of insurgents in Ekwulobia as an “assault on the psyche” of the people, the traditional ruler explained: “The people do not understand the finer explanations that these people are actually in the prison.

The feeling is that Boko Haram has visited the town. “We have in our midst people who returned from Maiduguri and other areas of the North East, people who managed to escape the Boko Haram onslaught. For many of them, the scourge that sacked them from their residences and businesses has followed them to the last secure point.

Can anyone imagine the psychological discord this could create? “Another major issue is that many residents and tenants, especially non-indigenes living near the prison, are vacating their homes. Also, parents are withdrawing their wards and children from some schools. The fear factor is what we are battling with.

“A few days ago, the principal of one of the best private boarding schools in the area, the Monsignor Maduka Memorial Secondary School in Ula, disclosed that parents from outside the state have been calling to withdraw their children since the arrival of the prisoners was confirmed. “To them, it is as if the insurgents are already operating in Ekwulobia. Non-indigenes are in panic and will find it easy to relocate, unlike the indigenes who are living with the fears.”

It was further learnt that the usual population at the community’s Eke Market has dropped. According to the Traditional Prime Minister and senior lecturer at Madonna University, Nze Gabriel Ezeukwu, “the markets are emptying.” He said the prevailing panic and fear would not have arisen if the Federal Government had considered the people’s emotions and adopted some pre-emptive measures. According to him, “this is a peaceful community, and harbouring people with such violent streak is not easy.

The insurgents are worse than kidnappers.” On the issue of Boko Haram, however, the President-General of Igbo Progressive Leaders Council and Eze Ndigbo of Ikeja, Eze Uche Dimgba, told newsmen that sending the detainees to the South East amounts to solving one problem by creating another.

They appealed to the Federal Government to return the detainees to Abuja because of security implications. Therefore, having “worked assiduously during the electioneering campaign of Muhammadu Buhari and Akinwunmi Ambode and all APC candidates in Lagos State to ensure that they won their elections, we call on all Igbo to desist from anything that will cause trouble or misunderstanding.”