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S’East leaders kick against secession, seek withdrawal of troops from region

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Governors of the South East and a Federal Government delegation have resolved to re-emphasise the unity of Nigeria while rejecting separatists agenda

The decision was made at the end of a meeting between the governors and representatives of President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday in Enugu to resolve the growing insecurity in the South East.

This is as Igbo elders in Abuja also called on the president to end the militarization and widespread killings in the South East and give room for more dialogue.

There have been widespread destruction of security facilities and agencies by suspected members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a group agitating for a separate state of Biafra from Nigeria, which has led to military deployment in the zone.

Addressing the meeting, the Chairman of the South East Governors Forum and Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues and other leaders from the zone, told the federal delegation that Ndigbo condemned the attacks by unknown gunmen on security operatives, public institutions and razing of police stations in the zone.

Umahi noted that the leaders have agreed to meet on 19th of June to articulate the grievances and concerns of the zone under the umbrella of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo after which they will nominate some people to meet with the president.

Umahi said the federal delegation discussed the ban on open grazing and expressed support for it, adding that the zone was happy with federal government’s commitment to address the issue.

He said the newly formed Ebubeagu security outfit set up by the five governors in the zone, is the only recognized local security outfit, adding that “no other security outfit is speaking for the southeast. And this is the position of Ndigbo.”

Earlier, leader of the federal delegation, and Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi, told the gathering that they were in Enugu on the instance of President Muhammadu Buhari to find possible ways of resolving the insecurity in the zone.

He pledged to deliver the message on complaints to the president for further discussion on the problems of marginalization and community policing in the zone.

However, in a statement by Dr Chukuemeka Ezeife, Prof C.E. Nwekeaku, Prof Ihechukwu Madubuike, Barr Onwu Arua Onwu, and the Eze Ndigbo of Abuja, Dr Eze Ibe Nwosu, the Igbo Elders in Abuja alleged that the military operation has caused the killing of 5, 000 youths and the detention of over 10, 000 in various facilities and untold hardship to innocent citizens in the zone.

The elders cited the directive to security agencies by the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba Alkali on May 19 while launching ‘Operation Restore Peace’ to “take the battle to them and kill them all, and don’t wait for any other order,” as the cause of indiscriminate arrests and enforced disappearances of hundreds of persons without “opportunity of burial”, a revered custom of the Igbo.

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