•Urges social media to stop promoting ethnic tension
•PANDEF seeks end to wanton destruction of property
Deji Elumoye and Udora Orizu in Abuja
Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, yesterday, asked social media platforms to stop giving publicity to people, who peddle fake news, especially ones targeted at creating ethnic tension.
He said this in a statement he issued yesterday in response to a video circulating on the Internet, urging the Igbos to leave Yoruba land.
Also yesterday, the South-east Caucus of the House of Representatives decried attempts to associate the looting and arson by hoodlums, who have hijacked the #EndSARS protests, with ethno-political struggles or pin them on a particular region or ethnic, religious, and political group.
In a related development, the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) called for an end to the wanton destruction of public and private property in some cities in the southern part of the country, in the last four days, by misguided people, who hijacked the #EndSARS protests.
In the statement titled, “Identity Thieves on the Rampage,” Soyinka noted that those trying to steal his identity to promote the video clip of an ethnic revanchist calling on Igbo to leave Yoruba land “are sick and cowards.”
He said: “It is time also, I believe, to also enter the following admonition: one cannot continue to monitor and respond to the concoctions of these addicts of falsehood, and their assiduous promoters, who have yet to learn to wipe the filth off their tablets.
“The patrons of social platforms should develop the art of discrimination. Some attributions are simply so gross that, to grant them even a moment’s latitude of probability diminishes the civic intelligence of the recipient.
“Undoubtedly in order to promote the video clip of an ethnic revanchist calling on Igbo to leave Yoruba land, this same lunatic fringe has exhumed, and embarked on circulating an ancient fabrication – several years mouldering in the grave – once attributed to me and vigorously denounced.
“That statement impudently expounds, as my utterance, what the Hausa want, what the Yoruba want, and what the Igbo want. Such an attribution – let me once again reiterate – is the work of sick, cowardly minds that are ashamed, or lack the courage, as the saying goes, ‘to answer their fathers’ names. At least, the current ethnic rabble-rouser has the courage of his convictions, not so the sick brigade of identity thieves.”
South-East House Caucus Frowns on Ethnicisation of Protests
The House South-east Caucus lawmakers, in a statement signed by its members, said people must refrain from age-long habit of raising the red flags of ethnicity and other primordial sentiments whenever there’s an opportunity to deal with issues that retard the nation.
The signatories include, ‘Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, Hon. Ossy Prestige, Hon. Hon. Uko Ndukwe, Hon. Solomon Adaelu, Hon. Benjamin Kalu, Hon. Samuel Onuigbo, Hon. Nkem Uzoma, Hon. Darlington Nwokocha, Hon. Lynda Chuba-Ikpeazu, Hon. Chukwuka Onyema, Hon. Chris Azubogu, Hon. Dozie Nwankwo, Hon. Ifeanyi Momah, Hon. Obinna Chidoka, Hon. Vincent Ofumelu
Hon. Chinedu Obidigwe, Hon. Chinedu Onwuaso, Hon. Chukwuma Umeoji, Hon. Okwuduili Ezenwankwo.
Others are, ‘Hon. Sylvester Ogbaga, Hon. Iduma Igariwey, Hon. Chinedu Ogar, Hon. Chukwuma Nwazunku, Hon. Livinus Makwe, Hon. Edwin Anayo, Hon. Patrick Asadu, Hon. Toby Okechukwu, Hon. Denis Amadi, Hon. Nnoli Nnaji, Hon. Ofor Chukwuegbo, Hon. Oke Martins, Hon. Simon Atigwe, Hon. Cornelius Nnaji, Hon. Jerry Alagboso, Hon. Bede Eke, Hon. Henry Nwanwuba, Hon. Ugonna Ozurigbo, Hon. Mariam Onuoha, Hon. Pascal Obi, Hon. Ikenna Elezianya, Hon. Emeka Chinedu, Hon. Chike Okafor, Hon. Kingsley Uju.
The Caucus while condemning the unfortunate hijack of the #EndSARS protests by agents of destabilisation, however, noted that the protests must, nevertheless, be seen for what they are, which is a patriotic, altruistic and peaceful assembly by Nigerian youths of all geopolitical zones and religious and political persuasions, seeking an end to police brutality and making a clarion demand for a better deal from Nigeria and those they put in offices by the power of their ballots.
The statement reads, ”We denounce in totality and completely dissociate ourselves and the South East region, which we represent, from any attempts to paint the struggle for better security services and good governance in tribal colours or sentiments. We condemn the wanton destruction of properties and businesses, including the palaces of our revered royal fathers.
”We frown at the attempt by any individual or group, who do not wish Nigeria well, to appropriate these laudable demands and weaponise the struggle for selfish and egotistic ends in an effort to destabilise the nation. We equally express our collective displeasure at the attacks on law enforcement officers and police formations, bearing in mind that demoralising the police as an institution and destroying available security infrastructure would only put the society at greater risks and equally defeat the altruistic purposes that underlined the #EndSARS protests in the first place.
”We need the police as much as the police need us. They are fellow Nigerians entitled to all the rights, including the right to life, bestowed on Nigerian citizens by Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution. Agreed that there are bad eggs in the security forces, who have committed grievous atrocities against Nigerians and the state, it is not within our rights to reduce ourselves to the same wrong and anarchic conducts we protest against by meting out jungle justice on them or any fellow citizen.
”We, therefore, urge all Nigerians and the government to join hands to remedy the heartrending, immediate aftermaths of the hijack of peaceful protests by hoodlums and to address the systemic weaknesses and cogent issues raised by the Nigerian youth. Also, having made their voices heard loudly and clearly, we plead with the youths to embrace dialogue with various levels of government in addressing the weaknesses in the system identified by the #EndSARS protests. It is the best route to maximising the millage they have covered by the protests. We must use this moment to prove that this federation has the capacity to counsel and remedy itself. Mr. President must show more leadership and must not miss this opportunity to reform policing and governance to meet the expectations of the citizens.
”While condoling with those who lost loved ones and properties in the unfortunate disturbances, we earnestly pray for the peaceful repose of the souls of our compatriots and healing for the wounded. We equally pray God heal our land.”
PANDEF Seeks End to Wanton Destruction of Property
Meanwhile, PANDEF, which called for an end to the wanton destruction of public and private property in a statement yesterday signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Hon Ken Robinson, described the act as senseless, horrible. The group noted it could not comprehend the motives for this kind of carnage.
It appealed to those behind the barbaric acts to have a rethink, and immediately stop any further destruction of property in the interest of common good.
PANDEF also said it found it difficult to fathom the intent for the aloofness of the Police and other security agents, in most cases, while the nefarious acts were being perpetrated.
The group further expressed concern at the unfortunate situations, whereby foodstuffs meant to be distributed to vulnerable citizens as COVID-19 palliatives, remained stocked in warehouses, and are now being discovered and looted in some states.
It insisted that the reasons put forward by officials of government on why the items were still kept in warehouses, while many Nigerians were languishing in hunger, were untenable and ridiculous.
According to PANDEF, the #EndSARS protesters had genuine grievances and constitutional and democratic right to express their frustrations in peaceful protests. The stories of extortion, harassment, brutality and even extrajudicial killings by some officials of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) are not fabricated; they are true stories. The rogue former SARS officials are known, and their victims or families of victims are also known.
”President Muhammadu Buhari should have quickly addressed the young people, with a fatherly countenance, to assuage their justified anger; instead of the option of deploying the Military, Police and hired thugs to attack and assault the peaceful protesters, which aggravated the situation. Now, what do we have? Untold destruction of lives and property of innocent Citizens.
”It is instructive to note that a good number of the country’s population is perturbed and angry with the way and manner affairs of state are being conducted, and therefore, governments at all levels must urgently “amend” their approaches to governance, and make the wellbeing of citizens “utmost priority. Otherwise, the present situations could implode into a national crisis, the outcome of which nobody can truly predict.”