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‘Those pushing for ethnic conflagration must be called to order’

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Uwazurike

A former President of Igbo think-tank group, Aka Ikenga, Chief Goddy Uwazurike, in this interview with ONYEDIKA AGBEDO, analyses the security situation in the Southeast and proffers solutions

How would you analyse the current security situation in the Southeast?
The situation in the country is horrible. Singling out the Southeast is to fall into a mind control trap. Eight policemen killed in Kebbi; six policemen killed in Imo; two soldiers killed in Ebonyi; five soldiers killed in Rivers; seven IDPs killed in Benue; High Court complex burnt in Ebonyi; Boko Haram confirmed to control one local council in Niger State; multiple villagers killed by bandits in Katsina State. We had an abduction of multiple university students in Kaduna State.

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Our own Air Force bombed and killed our own soldiers. Boko Haram occupied Gwoza and Mainok in Borno State and Geidam in Yobe State. Herdsmen killed nine students in their hostels in Anambra. Two abducted Greenfield students killed. And we had inter-ethnic clashes in Lagos.

All these just happened in the South East? Definitely not! There is insecurity in the Southeast as it is all over the country. Senators Ordia and Adeyemi wailed about the security situation in the country. To single out the Southeast as full of insecurity is unfortunate.

The Acting Police Chief declared immediately he was appointed that his concentration would be Southeast and South-south. Meanwhile, his home state, Yobe is at the mercy of ISWAP. Today, armed men go around in the Southeast in mufti and taxicabs seeking for the people to arrest. Yes, there is agitation in Igboland but it has not gone out of control.

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Although the IPOB has denied any involvement in the attacks on security personnel/facilities in the Southeast, security agencies keep pointing accusing fingers at them. What is your take?
There is a coordinated attempt to blame IPOB for the challenges in the Southeast. No full-blooded Igbo person will jump to conclusions the way the security agencies have done. A ready example is a speed with which the immediate past Inspector General of Police blamed IPOB hours after the bloodless but deadly attack on the Owerri Correctional Centre and the police state headquarters. Remember that God saw what Adam and Eve did yet He asked them, “what have you done?” 

The campaign to demonise Ndigbo is so coordinated that a particular national newspaper has repeatedly published on its front page that northerners are being killed in the Southeast. No government agency has rebuked it to date.

The attacks on various police posts are so efficiently done that one can suspect a well-trained unit as being responsible for it. The latest burning took place at Orieagu, Ehime Mbano local council of Imo State. The host community donated this particular station last December. The brazen attack was witnessed by the indigenes. The ruthless efficiency was the same everywhere. Yesterday, Sokoto police station came under attack. I am surprised that the anti-Igbo cabal has not blamed our people for the attacks in other parts of the country.

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There are worries in many quarters that what is currently playing out in the Southeast is similar to the circumstances that gave birth to Boko Haram terrorist group. Are you also concerned? 
You are right on the similarity with the 1967 atmosphere. I can even say that there are people who prefer Boko Haram, ISWAP, killer herdsmen, etc. to Ndigbo. A sitting governor of Adamawa State, in 2014, accused Ndigbo of being Boko Haram. General Azubuike Ihejirika was demonised for fighting Boko Haram to a standstill. A high-ranking chair of a Federal Government agency had a physical fight with a parking attendant in Abuja. He promptly accused the Biafrans. The level of hatred is too deep.

The latest news is that IPOB is transporting arms, bombs, etc. to the Southeast from Lagos. Rumours of war and disinformation are terrible. The Igbo person is the one who invests all over Africa. He seeks a level playing ground, not a battleground. We love peace and love.

What do you consider the way out of this disturbing situation?
Ndigbo are builders, not destroyers. Check, wherever we are we develop! The coordinated campaign must stop. Those pushing for ethnic conflagration must be called to order. The northerners living in the Southeast have nothing to fear from us. I went to primary school with some of the real northerners. The herdsmen of today are not Nigerians. Hausa/Fulani resident population had intermarried so successfully with Ndigbo that it is clearly difficult to sustain an ethnic conflict in Igboland. But in the South, the Niger and Chad boys dominate the menial jobs. They learn to speak Hausa in Lagos, Ibadan, Enugu, Umuahia, Aba, Port Harcourt, etc. War is an evil wind that does no one any good.

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I condemn violence in its totality. A lot of killings are going on all over the country. Ohanaeze has called on the President to thoroughly investigate what is happening throughout the country. The sophistication and efficiency do not bear the hallmarks of local action. The perpetrators are well trained. They appear suddenly, do the devil’s work and disappear into the night. This is the hallmark all over the country.

The tendency to instigate ethnic crises must be deplored. Igbo people are builders, not destroyers.

Having said that, the Federal Government should create a level playing ground and enthrone transparency in governance. Happily, northerners living in the Southeast and South-south are still living in their homes, not in military and police barracks. The government should obey the constitution wholeheartedly, rejig the national cabinet and remove all those who have unsavoury baggage or are suffering from lethargy.

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