Again, Ekweremadu, Umahi Ask Pro-Biafra Agitators to Shelve Call to Sit-at-home

  • Adegboruwa condemns arrest of activists

BY Jonathan Eze

The Deputy Senate President, Chief Ike Ekweremadu, and Governor of Ebonyi State, Mr. David Umahi, have again appealed to Biafra agitators  calling for a sit-at-home compliance  on Tuesday  to allow people to go about  their normal businesses.

Ekweremadu  and Umahi made the appeal during an interdenominational church service organised  by the Ebonyi State Government to mark this year’s Democracy Day in Abakaliki. 

They  noted that bad approach to genuine struggle was not good, as they encouraged the Igbos  to work in unity in order to achieve their aim irrespective of how long it takes.

Ekweremadu said: “On the issue of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and stay-at-home order, I just have one advice. You cannot have two governments in a state. If anybody says you should stay at home, if you are a trader you can choose to stay at home or go out. But if you are a civil or public servant, you are under obligation to go to work.

“I addressed the World Igbo Congress in Enugu and I told them that we all condemn the marginalisation of our people. We can never support it and we will continue to fight against it wherever we find ourselves. It is our life but  I advise that no one or group should   engage in any arm struggle no matter the level of provocation. The  idea of trying to force people to do your will, I don’t think it’s right.

“Those who want to stay at home should please stay at home but those who want to work should be allowed to go out.  I believe that if we have a struggle which I believe we have, it may take us a long time to get there but surely, no matter how long the darkness is, the day will eventually break.”

In a statement, the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Emma Anya, quoted the Deputy Senate President as  commending  Umahi for his infrastructural development and the mature way he has piloted the affairs of Ebonyi State, adding that the state has changed for good.

In his remarks, Umahi said  he had  directed that markets should be opened  on Tuesday and that  residents should   feel free  to go about their lawful business.

He condemned the idea of asking people to stay at home  but urged them to embrace dialogue rather than pursuing their genuine struggle the wrong way.

Umahi maintained that the leaders of South-east were handling the concerns of IPOB, promising that   efforts  to solve the problem would soon materialise.

“Let me say it;  I  have  all the lists of their agitations and most of what they are saying are correct but the way they are saying it may not be correct.  I met with the market people yesterday (Friday) and I said our market will remain open on May 30.

“The governors of South-east States are not noise makers behind the scene, we are tackling our problem with National Assembly members and our other leaders and I’m very sure that the modest effort we are making is fast yielding result. We  believe that we can win this war not through violence but through persuasion and dialogue and understanding,” he said.

The governor appreciated the  state executive  members, the  legislators  and the judiciary for their commitments  to  service delivery.

In  his  sermon, the Special Assistant to the Governor on Religion and Welfare Matters and the Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Ebonyi State chapter, Very Rev. Fr. Abraham Nwali, eulogised the governor for his achievements within two years in office.

Dignitaries who attended the church service included  former Governor of the state, Senator Sam Egwu;   Senator Obinna Ogba, state Chief Judge, Justice Aloy Nwankwo, and heads of security agencies in the state.

Meanwhile, human rights activist and a Lagos-based lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, has described the crackdown and arrest of some Biafran supporters mobilising for a sit-at-home protest as a sign of full blown fascism.

In a statement yesterday made available to THISDAY, he argued that the right to self-determination is guaranteed under Article 20 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, to which Nigeria is a signatory.

He urged the acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, to as a matter of urgency direct the release of the arrested activists.

The statement reads in parts: “For daring to declare and mobilise for a sit-at-home protest, pro-Biafra activists have fallen victims of the Buhari/Osinbajo administration. True to its threat, the police have arrested many Biafra activists and it is threatening to arrest many more, ahead of the May 30 sit-at-home protest.

“The right to self-determination is guaranteed under Article 20 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, to which Nigeria is a signatory. It is also recognised by the United Nations.

“Consequently, no race, people or tribe can be conquered or be forced to dwell in any entity against their wish.

“The vice-president, as a teacher and practitioner of law, knows this very well and it is totally disheartening that free born citizens of Nigeria are being silenced, intimidated, harassed and railroaded into unlawful custody under his watch.

“I therefore urge the acting president to direct the release of all pro-Biafra activists, who have been arrested on account of a protest that is yet to even happen. How can anyone be arrested for freely expressing his views and opinions in a democracy?

“And this is coming barely a day to May 29, for which the same government has declared a public holiday to celebrate democracy, in a country where citizens cannot enjoy their basic rights. Enough of civilian dictatorship please.”