For the Igbo, it is a ploy to extend the on going insurgency in the North, particularly, the Northeast, to the Southeast.
It started as a rumour about two weeks ago, that the federal government was transferring about 47 Boko Haram detainees to Anambra. Within days, the rumour gained legitimacy, and since then, no day has passed in Anambra and other southeast sates, without one form of demonstration by various formal and informal groups.
The Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) has alleged that the sole purpose of transferring Boko Haram suspects to Ekwulobia prisons by the federal government is to destabilize the South East.
This is even as the Secretary General of the Igbo socio-cultural group Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr. Joe Nwaorgu described the development as a trap for the Igbo nation.
The Movement which described the action of the federal government as intolerable said that Ndigbo and Biafrans in general will not accept such taboo in Igboland, stressing that “Biafra land is not a dumping site for Islamic religious fundamentalists who always engage themselves in bloodletting”.
In a statement signed by the National Director of Information of the Movement, Comrade Uchenna Madu, alleged that the sole aim of the federal government to relocate Boko Haram suspects to Ekwulobia Prison in Anambra state is to destabilize the South East.
The statement which read in part said “MASSOB has discovered that this latest move of President Buhari administration in relocating the satanic minded Boko Haram to Igboland has the full backing of some foreign Islamic religious leaders to attract the much needed presence of Boko Haram activities in Eastern region which may create fears in our people so that much external pressure will mount on Ndigbo to accept Islamic religion.”
It further stated that, “Islamic countries are not comfortable with the speed wave the Biafra actualization is making around the world mostly, the recent United Nation recognition accorded to Biafra through UN-Economic, Social and Cultural Council (UN-ECOSOCC) during UN-ECOSOCC meeting in New York, USA from may 26th to June 2nd 2015 and also earlier recognition of Biafra by African Union through AU-ECOSOCC general meeting in Nairobi, Kenya from 18th – 22nd Dec 2014”.
The Movement which vows to defend Igboland from any form of external aggression, intimidation or suppression from the Nigerian government, insisted that Boko Haram in any disguise is not welcomed in Igboland.
MASSOB commended the courageous spirit of Igbo traders, market leaders, religious leaders, and traditional leaders in their spirited effort to oppose the relocation of Boko Haram detainess to the Southeast.
The Movement advised all commercial motor parks in Igboland to employ the use of security gadgets for the screening of all passengers and luggage. Similarly, it also urged all worship centres in the South East to also employ the use of security gadgets for the screening of their premises and worshippers before they enter the places of worship.
Speaking on the same issue,Dr. Vitalis Orikeze Ajumbe, President, Ogbako-Igbo stated that “It is not proper to detain Boko Haram suspects in the South East, as this attracts the Boko Haram terrorists to the zone. They would want to come to rescue their members as they did in Lokoja some time ago, and in so doing, a lot of innocent lives may be lost. If lives of the Ibos are lost due to the detaining of the Boko Haram suspects, this, may result in a reprisal attack which may turn Nigeria into bigger crises. So, I think the President should do well to remove the suspects from the zone immediately to avoid a bigger problem because we will not tolerate suicide attack in the southeast.”
In his reaction, Comrade Paschal Egoigbo, National Coordinator of Njem Igbo Movement said “We condemn the relocation of Boko Haram prisoners to South East, we are asking if President Buhari sees it as a federal allocation to Ndigbo or a way to pay us back.”
While giving government an ultimatum to remove the detainees, he said “We issue 14 days ultimatum, starting from July 10 for the FG to return them back to the North, but at the end of the 14 days if the Boko Haram suspects are still in Ekwulobia Prisons, we will mobilize for a three day sit at home protest across the entire Southeast starting from August 1st. We also commend the Southeast governors for speaking up, we urge them to do more.”
On its part, Ohanaeze Ndigbo described the relocation as a trap for the Igbo nation urging the youths to keep their peace and allow the Southeast governors use peaceful means to convince the federal government to remove the prisoners from the zone.
The group’s scribe said “I feel pissed off like the rest of Ndi Igbo why it should cross anybody’s mind to relocate such people amongst us who have borne the brunt of their massacre and loss of property and means of life sustenance. We are already in anguish by their activities and someone thinks he should inflict more pain on us by trying to locate them around us so that we keep seeing day in day out the cause of our pain, it is ungodly to so do; it will be robbing salt to our injury.
“The danger is that it has put strain on us to restrain our youths; it has put us on collusion course maintaining law and order and restraining our youths. We are asking Igbo youths to keep the peace since the governors who are the chief security officers in their states are meeting to address the issue.”
Asked what would happen should the federal government refuse to relocate the prisoners, Dr. Nwaorgu said; “I can’t answer that question but note that our youths are restive. I want to use this forum to appeal to Igbo youths to please be law abiding. While we are doing that we ask the federal government to see the need to also appraise the situation correctly and take these people out of our territory.
“I feel that there being brought to Igbo land is a trap to lure the igbos into action so the Igbo should keep the peace while our governors continue peacefully asking the federal government to remove this thing out from our midst.”
Also reacting, a pro-Biafra activist and leader of the Biafra coalition, Ndubuisi Igwekani said; “We are telling President Buhari and those who brought these people here to remove them immediately. We feel aggrieved and we are disappointed with the federal government. We feel bad because we have nothing to do with Book Haram, it is a product of the north so they should be taken to where they come from or to Abuja. Because before you know what is happening, these people will pollute our territory and pollute our people. They will pollute our people in the prison and when they come out they will become a danger to the Southeast because terrorism is not in our blood.
Some of our people who supported Buhari did not do so for him to bring Boko Haram here but that he should develop the area and to give us what is due to us. So we want the federal government to quickly remove them from our land. We are not negotiating this with anybody; our governors have spoken and we cannot play politics with such a thing.
If they don’t move them, it then means that Buhari has declared war against the Southeast and we shall mobilize our people, the entire Southeast. And we will never accept it; we will stand on the road and say no; it is unacceptable. If this country doesn’t want us, they should say so and let everybody be on his own.”
In the same regards, Aka Ikenga, the Igbo intelligentsia group, said, the federal government’s decision was to extend the insurgency to Southeast.
Speaking to Saturday Sun, the president of the organisation, Chief Goddy Uwazurike condemned the action, saying, it is not reasonable to relocate members of terror group to a peaceful state.
Anambra State, he said, is a small area in terms of size, but the population is very high and they are peace loving people.
“I don’t know of any maximum security prison located in the whole of Anambra , and I don’t know why they brought such people from a war prone area to a peaceful area. I think whoever took that decision does not love Anambra people because there is no way you can take detainees and keep them far away from places of trial.
“It does not make sense therefore, they should take them back to their own area as I am not aware of any federal high court in this area, as such cases should be tried within the geographical enclave where the issue arose.” -The Sun