From Magnus Eze, Enugu and Stanley Uzoaru,Owerri
The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) yesterday, said it was open for truce if the new Governor of Anambra State, Chukwuma Soludo kept to his words by paving way for peace without endangering any of their members.
This is as a leading Igbo Think-Tank, Nzuko Umunna blamed the frosty relationship between the South East Governors’ Forum (SEGF) and IPOB for the increasing wave of crisis in the region.
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Responding to a call by Soludo on IPOB/ESN to sheathe their swords during his inaugural speech at Awka, the state capital on Thursday, the pro-Biafra group urged Soludo not to endanger or spill innocent Igbo blood during his tenure.
In a statement by spokesman of the group, Emma Powerful, he advised Soludo not to toe the line of his predecessors whom he claimed disrespected and betrayed so many innocent youths from the South East leading to extra-judicial killings and wanton destruction of their homes.
He said: “We wish to assure South East and South South governors that IPOB members are human beings and we don’t have plans to suffer our people but any of them who decide to approach us with harsh manner will receive us with harsh manner.”
Powerful assured Soludo that as long as he kept to his promise, IPOB will never fight him or let him down.
He asserted that IPOB would not accept or succumb to any threats or humiliation, urging Soludo to do away with politicians who would like to advise him to kill IPOB members in Anambra State.
“We were here when he came and we would be here when he would be leaving. His predecessor, former governor Willie Obiano allowed himself to be used by Fulani people and allowed them to kill his people at Nkpor in 2016 during our annual remembrance of our fallen heroes and heroines who paid the ultimate price for our freedom between 1967 and 1970. We won’t accept such to happen again with our members and citizens of Biafra nation.
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“IPOB is a peaceful movement only seeking freedom of their people and nothing will make us to stop unless they give us a date for referendum to ascertain where everybody wants to belong, either in Nigeria or elsewhere.
“We are ready to work with any government who wishes to give our people peace. If you dare us, you will regret it. We are peaceful and cannot jeopardise his government.”
Nzuko Umunna said Soludo’s call was not only timely but very apposite, calling that the faceoff between the South East Governors and the IPOB/ESN be resolved on a roundtable and as soon as possible, in the interest of peace and security in the zone.
The group noted that renegades, mischief-makers, external operators, sundry troublemakers, and other who were bent on causing serious security concerns in the South East had capitalized on the coldness between the SEGF and the IPOB/ESN to launch persistent assaults on the security of the zone while conveniently letting IPOB/ESN take the flack.
Executive Secretary of Nzuko Umunna, Ngozi Odumuko, in a statement said: “Reportedly over 5000 Igbo youths are languishing in various detention facilities across the nation without any authorizing court orders and without any formal charges except the vague and omnibus one of being suspected to be a member of IPOB/ESN. Many were reportedly taken from their homes or business premises and have been languishing in detention without even a chance of having a day in court.
“This call for a dialogue will pave the way for resolving a whole lot of issues. The innocent ones will be identified and saved from languishing in detention. The genuine self-determination groups will be identified and through dialogue properly and gainfully redirected; the renegades, mischief makers, purveyors of heinous acts of arson and brigandage, and their ilk would be fully identified and dealt with decisively so that peace and security will return to the South East zone.
“We fully identify with this call and will do our quota, if needed, to see to the fruition of this noble process. We urge the other governors in the South East to immediately identify with and adopt this call as their general position.”