•Senate seeks prosecution of attackers
Deji Elumoye, Chuks Okocha in Abuja, Chris Isiguzo in Enugu and Benjamin Nworie in Abakaliki
Outrage grew yesterday over the attack on former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, in Germany by members of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
Among those who condemned the attack on Ekweremadu, who was a guest at the New Yam festival in Nuremberg when he was attacked by protesters over the spate of insecurity in the South-east, were Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan; his deputy, Senator Ovie-Omo-Agege; Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, Senate Chief Whip, Senator Orji Kalu; the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and a former Minister of Aviation, Mr. Osita Chidoka.
The leadership of the Senate also called for a comprehensive probe of the attack on Ekweremadu.
Lawan and Omo-Agege, in separate statements expressed concern at the mob action against Ekweremadu.
According to Lawan, the German authorities should identify those involved in the despicable act so that the law can take its course against them.
Lawan said: “It is incredibly absurd for anybody to blame the distinguished senator for the violent criminal activities in his home base, the purported reason cited by the mob for the bewildering attack.
“Senator Ekweremadu, like all his distinguished colleagues in the Senate, is concerned about the insecurity and other challenges in that area and other parts of Nigeria. Senator Ekweremadu has also been at the forefront of the patriotic efforts to find lasting solutions to the challenges.
“The barbaric attack on Senator Ekweremadu at a forum to which he was invited to contribute to charting a course for the progress and happiness of Ndigbo debases our values as civilised people. It is most reprehensible and should be condemned by all right-thinking Nigerians.”
He urged Ekweremadu not to be deterred by the incident from his path of service to his people and Nigerians in general, but to take it as part of the sacrifice of leadership.
On his part, Omo-Agege said the assault was not only a dastardly exportation of irrationality but an aggressive international affront to the image of Igbo and Nigeria.
He expressed shock over the undeserved assault and called on law enforcement agencies in Germany to investigate and bring to book all those involved in the attack.
“What they did is not only a violent assault against the good image of the Igbo race across the world but also an aggressive attack against the traditional norms of a people known to be hardworking and respectful of meaningful contributions by leaders such as Senator Ekweremadu,” he said, adding: “Such criminal attack, along with other anti-social attempt to accuse, condemn and lynch anyone remains utterly condemnable and illegal, notwithstanding whether it takes place on Nigerian or foreign soil as it is the easiest invitation to anomie.” Okowa, in a statement yesterday by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Olisa Ifeajika, described the incident as pathetic, shameful and an embarrassment to Nigeria.
He stated that Ekweremadu had been a great patriot and defender of his people as well as the down-trodden and did not deserve the kind of ill-treatment meted to him by IPOB.
“It is pathetic and shameful that an event organised to chart the way forward for the Igbo race and Nigeria in general ended up in such a disgraceful and embarrassing manner to the country,” he added.
Also, Kalu, in a statement by his media team, described the action of the group as uncivilised, unacceptable and barbaric.
He urged the Igbo to respect leaders at all levels, noting that the only way the South-east could be prosperous was to embrace dialogue, peace and unity.
Chidoka demanded an unreserved apology from the organisers of the event and the perpetrators of the attack on the senator.
Also condemning the assault on Ekweremadu, the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP Abia), described it as reprehensible and sacrilegious.
The main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), also condemned the attack on Ekweremadu.
The party in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said the attack on Ekweremadu was uncalled for, unprovoked and could not be justified under any guise whatsoever.
The PDP added that such assault on a leader is unacceptable and does not portray the country in proper light.
The PDP, therefore, charged the Nigerian Ambassador to Germany as well as the German government to take appropriate decisive action on the matter.
National Vice Chairman of PDP, South-east Zone, Chief Austin Umahi, also flayed the attack on Ekweremadu.
In a statement from his media office, Umahi frowned on the action of the group against Ekweremadu, who he said had been at the forefront of the struggle against the marginalisation of Igbo in the Nigerian federation.
In his reaction, former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, said what happened to Ekweremadu was an eye-opener and a clear signal that every political leader in Southern Nigeria must be called to account of his or her action in office.
“What happened in Nuremberg yesterday marks the beginning of an awakening. Every southern politician, including yours truly, will be called to account to the people of the South about what he or she did to stop the genocide and ethnic cleansing of southerners in Buhari’s Nigeria,” he said.
While condemning the attack, MASSOB dismissed a directive purportedly issued by IPOB leadership that the governors of the South -east states should be attacked anytime they are seen outside the country.
It said violence had never been the best strategy for them to achieve the Biafran project.
MASSOB, in a statement by its National Director of Information, Mr. Edeson Samuel, apologised to Ekweremadu for the international embarrassment.
The Chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, had on Saturday also condemned the attack on the former deputy Senate president.