IPOB Threat: Igbo Govs Shelve Travel Plans
The governors of the south-eastern states are currently reluctant to travel abroad following the threat by members of the Indigenous People of Biafra [IPOB] to attack them and other Igbo politicians whenever they are sighted outside the country, Saturday PUNCH findings have revealed.
Findings have also shown that the South-East governors are very unlikely to make any trip abroad at the moment until the issue with IPOB is resolved.
Sources said the South-East governors were afraid that what happened to Ekweremadu might happen to them if they travelled abroad.
Investigations by our correspondents into the position of South-East senators on the matter also revealed that the federal lawmakers held divergent views on the threat but confirmed that no Igbo governor was prepared to travel outside the country at the moment.
While some lawmakers believe that the governors should dare the IPOB agitators and travel to any part of the world without fear of being assaulted, others warned them to tread with caution.
One of the lawmakers, who spoke with one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity, said the governors drew the anger of the Biafran agitators when they supported the proscription of the IPOB.
He said, “It should be clear to our governors now that the essence of the military operation (Operation Python Dance) in the South-East then was to carry out an ulterior motive which has been defeated. The governors should initiate dialogue with the leadership of IPOB in the interest of peace.”
IPOB had last Saturday attacked a former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, in apparent obedience to an order by the leader of the secessionist group, Nnamdi Kanu, that its members in 100 countries across the world should attack the governors of Ebonyi, Enugu, Abia and Anambra states if they were seen abroad.
The group also put on notice Ndigbo leaders such as the President-General of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, who it accused of supporting the Operation Python Dance in the South-East.
Ekweremadu was subsequently attacked in Nuremberg, Germany, where he had gone to celebrate the New Yam festival.
In video clips which went viral on the Internet, the lawmaker was seen being pelted with stones, yams, sticks and water packs, while his isiagu, a pullover shirt worn by the Igbo people on special occasions, was torn.
After the IPOB’s threat, the South-East governors and Nwodo in separate statements debunked the group’s threat, stating that attacking them would not solve the problem of their agitation for Biafra.
Days after Ekweremadu was attacked, the South-East Governors Forum also wrote President Muhammadu Buhari to approve its earlier decision banning herders who have no cattle, as well as the movement of cattle by foot in the region to forestall insecurity and banditry, which was one of the issues raised by IPOB in its threat.
However, an Igbo senator who spoke to Saturday PUNCH on condition of anonymity said the governors should not further expose themselves to ridicule by reaching out to the IPOB members.
He said, “Why should they (governors) reach out to them (IPOB members)? For what purpose? The IPOB threatened the governors and the states’ chief executives also threatened them.
“The governors threatened to force the IPOB leader, Kanu, back to Nigeria if the agitators should lay their hands on any politicians from the eastern part of the country who travel abroad again.
“The governors said they would use every means to repatriate Kanu. How they want to do that, I don’t know. That threat means that they are afraid. That means that they are taking the man’s threat seriously
Our people are expecting the governors to dare the guys by saying nothing would happen and decide to embark on foreign trips, but it is obvious that the governors are scared of the IPOB threat.
“Our people are even happy that the threat would make the governors stay at home and work for their people.
“The governors were saying that they would plot Kanu’s repatriation so that the people at home can deal with him, but the boys on the ground here are just laughing at them.
“What can either the South-East governors or the Federal Government do on Ekweremadu’s case?
“Will they travel abroad to go and arrest the guys who attacked him? The German government has already said that the guys have the right to protest. What else will they do?
“It is a mob action. No one can be arrested. The only thing that the Nigerian government can do is to go and arrest those who invited him, which is not possible.”
But the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, who also doubles as the Chairman, South-East caucus in the federal parliament, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, cautioned the IPOB agitators against further molesting any Igbo politician, within or outside the country.
Abaribe, who is the Minority Leader of the Senate, told one of our correspondents on Thursday that the security agents in foreign countries might not hesitate to deal with anybody who tried to infringe on the rights of other people.
He said, “I am travelling next week. I will be in Houston, United States, and I will also be in Atlanta. I will go anywhere that I want to go in the world, I don’t care. Senator Ekweremadu, despite the assault he suffered, has also said that people should be free to go to wherever they want.
“Because of that, I do not really see why anybody should be afraid to exercise their rights. It is only in Nigeria that people do things without getting the appropriate sanctions.”