The Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Thursday, reacted to alleged clampdown on Igbo youths in some parts of Imo State by men of the Nigerian Army, describing the act as ‘cowardly’, ‘uncivilised’, and ‘unacceptable’.
Ohanaeze, in a statement signed by its national publicity secretary, Alex Chiedozie Ogbonnia, called on the military authorities to follow the provisions of the Nigerian constitution in discharging their duties to avoid human rights violations.
According to the statement, “The attention of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide has been drawn to ongoing massive arrests of Igbo youths by the Nigerian Army.
The report indicates that ‘the military personnel, suspected to be led by the 34 Artillery Brigade, Owerri, since Sunday, have been arresting male residents and youths, particularly in Oguta and Ohaji communities, and clamping them into vans and taken to unknown destinations’.
“The report adds that the army are ‘busy, carrying out raids, discreet searches and arrests of youths and residents who are suspected to be linked to the Indigenous People of Biafra and its security arm, the Eastern Security Network’. For the avoidance of doubts, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, led by Ambassador Prof George Obiozor, is unequivocal about the use of firearms by unauthorized persons, bodies or groups. Democracy, all over the world, vests the absolute authority for the legitimate use of force in government. We had admonished that the exclusive indulgence of AK 47 to the Fulani herdsmen as canvassed by Bauchi governor Bala Mohammed is antithetical to the ethos of a decent society.
“For the armed forces to arrest the Igbo youths without evidence of arms, means of violence or crimes is cowardly, uncivilized and mostly unacceptable to Ohanaeze Ndigbo. It runs contrary to every sense of natural justice and rights of citizenship for the army to invade some Igbo communities in search of youths; most of whom are brilliant university graduates whose society has denied employment and sense of belonging. This is adding salt to festering injury.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo does not just wax lyrical about Igbo youths of all categories or dispositions. We condemn crimes irrespective of the source. On the other hand, we stand on a firm wicket that it is ruthless to arrest any Igbo in the guise of membership of a terrorist organization unless there is sufficient evidence of crimes or unlawful possession of fire arms.”
Ohanaeze therefore called on the chief of army staff, Major General Ibrahim Attahiru, to stop the wave of arrests ‘before it gives impetus to the proposal by the United Kingdom Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to offer asylum to persons who actively and openly support IPOB and likely to be at risk of arrest or detention, and ill-treatment which is likely to amount to persecution’.