News

IPOB NOT THIEVES BUT FREEDOM FIGHTERS, NDIGBO REPLY PRESIDENCY

The President, Muhammadu Buhari, through his spokesman, Garba Shehu, was quoted to have said that IPOB are thieves, not freedom fighters. The statement irked Igbo who feel that the President is not attacking the real thieves, killer Fulani herdsmen and bandits that are killing, robbing, raping and kidnapping Nigerians on daily basis.


They urged the President and his minders to be truthful on the insecurity challenges facing the country to be able to genuinely tackle it.


DCO Global News
Published on September 9, 20021
By Odoh Dominic Chukwuemeka


Reacting to President’s remarks of tagging IPOB a criminal organization, an elder statesman and former President General of Onitsha Markets Amalgamated Traders Association, OMATA, Chief Ozoh Anaekwe, dismissed it and insisted that IPOB is the best thing that has happened to Nigeria since Independence, saying the general opinion of majority of Nigerians can attest to that.


According to Anaekwe, “Many people including honest Yorubas, Hausas will realize that IPOB is the best thing that has happened to Nigeria since Independence. If not, they would have all been wiped out by the power drunk ethnic group that give impression that they alone own Nigeria. IPOB is an organization that has exposed their hidden agenda. It is an organization that exposed the plans made against the North, the East and West, and the South.

“If the Presidency is operating a democratic government, had it been it is a democratic government, they should have first sought the peoples opinion to determine if IPOB deserves proscription. Secondly, they should have abided by rule of law according to Nigerian constitution in determining if agitation for self determination is a crime against the state. IPOB is agitating for self determination and if Garba Shehu knows or has read the Nigerian constitution, why did he not understand that agitation for self determination is constitutional.



“One thing everybody will understand is that an arrested armed robber is not guilty until proven or pronounced guilty by a competent court of law, he deserves to defend himself of any allegations against him. Even some mothers will defend their children that they are not criminal even when they know they are until the court convicts them.

“Garba Shehu knows that what the government he is serving is doing against IPOB is illegal and they will tag them all manner of names to defend their illegality. Shehu is shouting first to tell the world that they are right while IPOB is wrong, they are criminal and evil. They can’t deceive anybody any more.



“It is unfortunate and equally shameful that the same Garba Shehu who comes from the North where the real criminals and terrorists are killing and maiming and kidnapping even school children and collecting ransom from them, yet they have not called them criminals and terrorists and sanctioned them like they wrongly did to IPOB.

“Garba Shehu and the President cannot swear to an oath that what the Fulani herdsmen, bandits that are kidnapping people in the North including school children, are doing is strange to them. Nigerians are still surprised why the government has been reluctant to declare these groups terrorist groups, which they really are. Why are they being protected when the atrocities they commit on daily basis is there for everyone to see. So until they prove me wrong that they do not support the evil activities by this group, I will believe the criminals are working for them.


“As the spokesman of the President and the government, he is supposed to condemn the killings happening under their administration and the people behind them; is it IPOB that is killing and abducting people and students in the North? Is it IPOB that is killing people in Plateau and Benue States, and taking over their lands?


That is supposed to be the first thing the government should condemn before attacking innocent IPOB that are just self determination agitators. I am yet to hear the day they will tell us that IPOB has killed these or the other people and took over their ancestral lands or are forcefully taking over other indigenous communities’ lands.

“It is unfortunate that people the whole world knows as blood thirsty killers, the Fulani herdsmen and the bandits that kidnap school children are being shielded, defended, pampered and protected by the government. They cannot condemn them, they are only against IPOB but the kidnappers and terrorist Fulani herdsmen are saints. They dine and wine with them.


“It is the same IPOB they are calling criminals and not freedom agitators, it is the same organization that has predicted what is happening today and educating people on the illegal activities and plans against Nigerians. They have been predicting years back most of the evils and hardships happening in Nigeria today. Almost all they said that would happen under this government have all happened.

“Garba Shehu should tell Nigerians what IPOB has done wrong; the government is making Fulani untouchable, Fulani herdsmen can kill and bury without condemnation and prosecution; they can kill people and takeover their ancestral lands and nothing will happen.


Rather than caution them, the President has been busy appointing only Fulani people and Northerners into all juicy positions, building rail lines from Nigeria to Niger Republic which is not of any economic benefit to Nigeria and laying oil pipeline from the South South to Kaduna that is not an oil producing state. All these are parts of the hidden agenda. What else is the crime of IPOB if not that they are resisting Fulani herdsmen from taking over Igbos ancestral land like they have done in Benue State and other places?

“If Garba Shehu can give three criminal acts IPOB committed, Nigerians will tell him twenty things that make Fulani herdsmen and bandits terrorists. And now, they are giving them amnesty while their victims and their families are in pains and agony; what an administration. Are they telling us that the Fulani herdsmen killing people and kidnappers kidnapping school children and collecting ransom are working for them, if not by now something should have been done to stop it.

“All of a sudden, Nigerians no longer have people who criticize government. They were alive during President Goodluck Jonathan administration, but now they are dead or deaf and dumb, shame on them and their cluelessness. Then if Jonathan coughed, they would complain, but those condemnations have all died under the present government.

“It is only the masses and the indigenous peoples that are speaking, complaining and condemning the atrocities in the country.

“Many communities in Nigeria like South East, Middle Belt and South South, even the Yoruba should be grateful to IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu for their vocal and strong resistance to the killer herdsmen and bandits.

“If IPOB is a criminal group, how many have army and police apprehended and subsequently convicted as criminals. What we hear is that IPOB and ESN were ambushed in their hideouts in the bush and their leaders and operatives killed or arrested? The government should be serious and come out clean on the activities of the Fulani herdsmen and bandits.”

For the traditional ruler of Ishi-Obere community, Amufie in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State, Igwe Chukwuma Eze, those calling IPOB thieves are enemies of Igbo. He insisted that IPOB are freedom fighters.

Igwe Chukwuma Eze cautioned those speaking for leaders to be guided and be careful with their choice of words and avoid inciting people against each other.

“I will say it clearly as it is supposed to be. The truth will never die nor be swept under the carpet. It is equivocally clear that Garba Shehu was quoted out of context; it is a total error and misguided statement to say that IPOB are thieves. IPOB are freedom fighters. They by all indications stand for freedom of Igbo nation. They are all fighting against marginalization and injustice against Igbo people. IPOB is not by any means thieves.

“We all know the attributes of thieves. A nation cannot be called thieves. Thieves are group of people with the intention to steal. IPOB do their things in public and always give notice of their activities.

Thieves are not represented in all the countries of the world. IPOB is everywhere in the world today, fighting for the freedom of their race. They make legal complaints to the world and always speak for Igbo freedom.

“They have followers all over the world and speak for common objectives. Those calling IPOB thieves are the enemy of the Igbo race. This kind of expression is meant for the bandits. The people that speak for leaders should know how to use words. The choice of words is very important and can harm if not well applied, it causes disunity and hatred. We should guide our utterances.

“In a nutshell, we are aware of the true situation of the country. We should guide our utterances because we are educated enough to know what to call a thing, person, or group at any time. We are equal in this nation and should treat our matters, actions and expressions of a group as it is supposed to be devoid of any interest or hate intent.

“Globally, self determination agitation is common and witnessed by the people that have the desire to be free from any form of oppression. IPOB members are never thieves rather they are freedom fighters”, the monarch stressed.

In his contribution, a senior lecturer at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN, Dr. George Iloene, said the statement shows that President Muhammadu Buhari, is not in tune with the call for self-determination by many countries of the world.

According to the don, branding IPOB members as thieves by the President equally portrays him as someone pursuing a hidden agenda which does not represent national interest.

He said that pampering terrorist groups as has been demonstrated by the Federal Government while clamping down on peaceful demonstrators smacks of political hooliganism and called on the Presidency to give the Igbo a chance to produce a President of Nigeria by 2023 in the spirit of equity and justice.

“It is obvious that the Southerners want to be left alone since governance has become one-sided in the country for over a decade now.

The Southerners have made it known to the world that some ethnic groups in Nigeria have arrogated to themselves the power to govern this country at the detriment of others.

“How can the President call IPOB members thieves while Boko Haram terrorists who claim to have repented are pardoned and are being paid by the Federal Government. You cannot single out a people for annihilation while others who are potentially dangerous are protected.

“The international community has realized that the whole thing happening in Nigeria is not in tune with civilization. How can a responsible government declare peaceful demonstrators terrorists but give amnesty to others who carry arms to destroy lives and properties? It smacks of political hooliganism. The Federal Government cannot continue to pamper some groups who are against civilization while marking out peaceful protesters for destruction. It cannot happen anywhere else in the world except in this country”, Iloene lamented.

Also speaking, the Project Manager, Advocacy Partnership for good governance, Comrade, Igboke Onyebuchi said President Buhari should caution Garba Shehu to be professional in the performance of his job or expect reprisal reactions from the masses.

Igboke advised Garba Shehu to ensure the proscription his Fulani herdsmen and bandits carrying AK-47and other sophisticated arms and ravaging all parts of the country before attacking freedom fighters like IPOB.

He accused Shehu of being a propagator of fake news and insightful speeches capable of causing another Civil war and demanded that Shehu should tender unreserved apology to South Easterners for attacking them with hate speeches or remain an ethnic bigot which he has displayed.

“Garba Shehu is becoming unpresidential; he just opens his mouth and be talking. He should be called to order before the masses will protest against him. Remember that it is the same Garba Shehu that accused Rev Fr Mbaka of looking for contract and the South East kept quiet. Now he came to attack IPOB by calling them names. We have not seen Garba Shehu using this kind of derogative words against herdsmen, bandits or even Boko Haram that are ravaging his part of the country.


“He should be focused on his area and try to be professional in what he is doing. What he is doing is unprofessional and the Presidency is just ignoring him.

“He should be called to order. It is Garba Shehu that is deciding the two kinds of presidency that we are operating. We have President of Nigeria and the Presidency. We never had it this bad with the media handlers of the Presidency. If he used to take something before coming out to make a public statement, he should be called to order.

“How can he boldly be saying that IPOB are thieves when they have not even proscribed Fulani herdsman and bandits that carries AK-47 and other assorted firearms. Why are they making it look as if they own this state called Nigeria. He is not doing the job he is supposed to do. He is only trying to escalate already tensed situation in the country. Recently he also attacked governor of Benue state Ortorm. He always talks without fact. Garba Shehu is a senior advocate of fake news. He keeps on saying things that he can’t substantiate.

A presidential aid behaving like a child, he should grow or be shown the way out because he is really creating tension. The recent utterance of Garba Shehu is becoming unbecoming. He claimed to be the Presidency.

“He shouldn’t just be playing with the minds of Nigerians by propagating fake news. He should be cautioned before the South Easterners take it upon him.

“He should apologize, now it has been shown that he is a tribal bigot. How can he accuse Mbaka which we are trying to come out of, now is IPOB that has not done anything violent and you are calling them names? What does he intend to achieve; he should apologize to Southeastern over his hate speeches. He is not a child to have known that this nation requires diplomacy. At his age he shouldn’t pray for another Civil war. The way he is going, trying to incite people against the other. He is propagating hate speeches hiding under the Presidency”, Igboke said.

In his contribution, an Igbo leader, Chief Jerry Obasi, condemned the statement by the presidency and described it as cheap propaganda, aimed at giving a dog a bad name to hang. He said that IPOB is just

He disclosed that the presidency has been ashamed of the truth being exposed by IPOB about the Fulanization of the country as well as marginalization of the Igbo in Nigeria. Obasi further stated that Buhari and some members of his cabinet have always behaved as people who have scores to settle with the Igbo race.

“The problem is that the truth exposed by IPOB about the Fulanization agenda of the Buhari presidency and the marginalization of the Igbo has done lots of damage to the Presidency. Otherwise, how can the Presidency accuse IPOB of being thieves? Which member of the IPOB has stolen government funds, done government contracts or engages in fraud? It is quite unfortunate that the Presidency will continue to lock horns with Ndigbo. Buhari and some members of his cabinet behave as if they have scores to settle with the Igbo. Buhari’s presidency has continued to begrudge and attack Ndigbo.

It has failed to regard the Igbo as one of the three tripods on which Nigeria stands. This shows that Buhari’s presidency has no good plan for the Igbo. Between Buhari’s presidency and IPOB, who are thieves?

“Talk of IPOB, you are talking of the Igbo in terms of marginalization and unfair treatment by the Buhari-led federal government. Every Igbo including those serving in Buhari’s government is a member of the IPOB, whether by commission or omission. You can’t separate the IPOB and the Igbo. IPOB and Igbo are one and the same.

“Take for instance, the sit-at-home order which has been suspended by IPOB, every Igbo sits at home in sympathy and support for the detained leader of IPOB. All the palliatives, threats and warnings by the various state governments to make people ignore the sit-at-home have come to nothing. This is to inform you that the Igbo share the aspiration of the group. IPOB seeks a better deal for Ndigbo.

“Self determination is an internationally recognized right, so what is the IPOB’s offence in seeking self determination? It is clear that Buhari’s presidency doesn’t want the Igbo in Nigeria. You marginalize and treat the Igbo unfairly, yet you don’t want them to leave. You can’t beat a child and expect him not to cry.

“It is even the same people that accuse the IPOB of criminality that have kept silent about the activities of Fulani herdsmen bandits in the North. They have refused to treat the Fulani herdsmen and bandits as terrorists but were quick to brand a self determination group as IPOB a terrorist organization. This tells you how much regards Buhari has for the Igbo.

“Why is Buhari’s presidency not showing enough concern about Boko Haram and banditry in the North? Why have they been treating them with kid gloves and (allegedly) recruiting the so called repentant Boko Haram members into the Nigerian Army? Nigeria is almost nearing the situation in Afghanistan.

What Buhari has been doing is to scuttle the 2023 Igbo presidency project by allowing bandits to take over the North”.

He knows an Igbo man will succeed him as President in 2023 and labeling IPOB as a terrorist group is a strategy to frustrate the dream. By 2023, all the Boko Haram members and bandits being recruited would have taken over the Nigerian Army to cause more problems.


“Boko Haram has camps in Sambisa forest and other areas where they control fighting the Nigeria Army after seizing territories. What has Buhari done to end Boko Haram other than all these window dressing efforts that have led to the group growing more in strength and killing people? Bandits have been kidnapping students and collecting ransom, yet all we get from Buhari’s presidency are press releases, condolence messages and promises that they are on top of the situation”.

According to Mrs. Eucharia Odinaka-Njoku, the allegation is a mere exaggeration and a senseless distraction.

“This is not the time to start talking about the huge but laughable exaggeration or getting distracted from our divine goal of achieving a free Biafra. We have not easily forgotten that every criminal apprehended by the Nigeria Police is branded IPOB or ESN members. We have equally heard of how such persons were forced or cajoled to claim what they are not.

“Government security agencies have killed a lot of us in the past and I see the current allegation as a cover up for yet another carefully laid plan to eliminate another batch of innocent Ndigbo”, she alleged.

A top civil servant in Imo State, who does not want her name in print, said: “Government has all the propaganda machinery and they roll out these falsehoods from its pool, at will. IPOB has long been branded a terrorist organization, but the deadly gangs killing, maiming, raping, kidnapping and destroying life and property, are still left to walk the streets as free citizens.

“That is the tragedy of our birth. This is a clear case of different strokes for different folks. The Presidency should come out clean and tell us in clear terms, what they have in stock for Ndigbo”.


In their reaction, The Igbo National Council, INC, called for the immediate sack of Garba Shehu, saying he is only out to cause crisis in Nigeria. According to INC, Garba’s comment was capable of leading Nigeria to another civil war.

“We read with total disappointment the reaction of the Presidency on the report of Amnesty International on the brutal murder of Igbo Nationalities in Nigeria by the Jihadist Terrorist Groups that is determined to exterminate none Fulani Conformist ethnic nationalities in Nigeria as their long-term project Fulanize and Islamize Nigeria.

“The desperate attempt by the Nigerian authority headed by Garba Shehu media propagandists to blackmail the Igbo Nation will not succeed. Garba Shehu lacks the basic knowledge of Nigeria political historical unfolding; the inflammatory statements of Garba Shehu are capable of throwing Nigeria into deeper conflict. We call on the Presidency not to be biased in its fight against terrorism in Nigeria.”

“The Presidency should stop interfering in the fight against terrorism in North East Region of Nigeria where Boko Hara. ISWAP and ISIS have taken over the security, economy and political affairs of the states in that region and still working relentlessly to expand their territory to North Central, South East, South South and South West regions of Nigeria with impunity.

“On the strength of foregoing, the Igbo National Council therefore call for the immediate sack of Garba Shehu before he leads Nigeria into another civil war through his reckless and unguided statements as the Presidential spokesperson,” INC said.

In their position, Coalition of South East Youth Leaders, COSEYL, challenged the government to provide proof that the IPOB is amassing weapons, insisting that it is not enough to allege without evidence. COSEYL President, Comrade Goodluck Ibem, accused Garba Shehu of being “known for making controversial statement at all times”.

He said the people known to be stockpiling weapons are Fulani bandits masquerading
as herdsmen.

“Does he have any proof that IPOB is stock piling weapons? The people that all Nigerians know that carry weapons are Fulani terrorists parading as herdsmen who are killing people, kidnapping for ransom and robbing people of their hard earned resources on daily basis all over the country. Those bandits, insurgents and Terrorists ravaging the North, are they also IPOB members?


“Nigeria today is among the countries on the world terror index today because of the criminal activities of the kinsmen of Garba Shehu and not IPOB. It is not hidden that Shehu dislikes the people of South East and always likes talking negatively about the people of South East. We will not be surprised tomorrow if he comes out to tell us that, it is IPOB that is killing people and sacking communities in Katsina, Borno and other northern states.

“We advise Shehu to avoid been clannish on national and sensitive issues. His recent statements are not presidential but sentimental in all sense of word”, COSEYL said.
Similarly, former Nigeria Ambassador to Argentina Ambassador Empire Kanu, challenged the presidency to show proof of their allegation. He said it would be wrong to be pointing accusing fingers at the wrong
direction.

“It is wrong to leave the real bandits and begin to point accusing fingers elsewhere. I think IPOB is only after self determination of Biafran. And if you say you want self rule there must be a reason for that.


“We are saying restructure but you don’t want to restructure. So, what do you want them to do? They talk, you say they are carrying arms; they do simply protest, you say they are disturbing the peace. What do you want them to do? There must be freedom of speech and freedom of association. How do unknown gunmen translate to IPOB. Tell that to the Marines”.



By Odoh Dominic Chukwuemeka

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