*** Scared of travelling abroad, say sources
….Nnamdi Kanu orders followers to attack Buhari in Japan
…Separatist group’ll lose 70% of sympathisers –Ndigbo coordinator in Germany
The governors of the south-eastern states are currently reluctant to travel abroad following the threat by members of the Indigenous People of Biafra to attack them and other Igbo politicians whenever they are sighted outside the country, Saturday PUNCH findings have revealed.
Findings have also shown that the South-East governors are very unlikely to make any trip abroad at the moment until the issue with IPOB is resolved.
Sources said the South-East governors were afraid that what happened to Ekweremadu might happen to them if they travelled abroad.
Investigations by our correspondents into the position of South-East senators on the matter also revealed that the federal lawmakers held divergent views on the threat but confirmed that no Igbo governor was prepared to travel outside the country at the moment.
While some lawmakers believe that the governors should dare the IPOB agitators and travel to any part of the world without fear of being assaulted, others warned them to tread with caution.
One of the lawmakers, who spoke with one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity, said the governors drew the anger of the Biafran agitators when they supported the proscription of the IPOB.
He said, “It should be clear to our governors now that the essence of the military operation (Operation Python Dance) in the South-East then was to carry out an ulterior motive which has been defeated. The governors should initiate dialogue with the leadership of IPOB in the interest of peace.”
The IPOB had last Saturday attacked a former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, in apparent obedience to an order by the leader of the secessionist group, Nnamdi Kanu, that its members in 100 countries across the world should attack the governors of Ebonyi, Enugu, Abia and Anambra states if they were seen abroad.
The group also put on notice Ndigbo leaders such as the President-General of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, who it accused of supporting the Operation Python Dance in the South-East.
Ekweremadu was subsequently attacked in Nuremberg, Germany, where he had gone to celebrate the New Yam festival. In video clips which went viral on the Internet, the lawmaker was seen being pelted with stones, yams, sticks and water packs, while his isiagu, a pullover shirt worn by the Igbo people on special occasions, was torn.
After the IPOB’s threat, the South-East governors and Nwodo in separate statements debunked the group’s threat, stating that attacking them would not solve the problem of their agitation for Biafra.
Days after Ekweremadu was attacked, the South-East Governors Forum also wrote President Muhammadu Buhari to approve its earlier decision banning herders who have no cattle, as well as the movement of cattle by foot in the region to forestall insecurity and banditry, which was one of the issues raised by IPOB in its threat.
However, an Igbo senator who spoke to Saturday PUNCH on condition of anonymity said the governors should not further expose themselves to ridicule by reaching out to the IPOB members.
He said, “Why should they (governors) reach out to them (IPOB members)? For what purpose? The IPOB threatened the governors and the states’ chief executives also threatened them.
“The governors threatened to force the IPOB leader, Kanu, back to Nigeria if the agitators should lay their hands on any politicians from the eastern part of the country who travel abroad again.
“The governors said they would use every means to repatriate Kanu. How they want to do that, I don’t know. That threat means that they are afraid. That means that they are taking the man’s threat seriously.
“Our people are expecting the governors to dare the guys by saying nothing would happen and decide to embark on foreign trips, but it is obvious that the governors are scared of the IPOB threat.
“Our people are even happy that the threat would make the governors stay at home and work for their people. The governors were saying that they would plot Kanu’s repatriation so that the people at home can deal with him, but the boys on the ground here are just laughing at them.
“What can either the South-East governors or the Federal Government do on Ekweremadu’s case? Will they travel abroad to go and arrest the guys who attacked him? The German government has already said that the guys have the right to protest. What else will they do?
“It is a mob action. No one can be arrested. The only thing that the Nigerian government can do is to go and arrest those who invited him, which is not possible.”
But the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, who also doubles as the Chairman, South-East caucus in the federal parliament, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, cautioned the IPOB agitators against further molesting any Igbo politician, within or outside the country.
Abaribe, who is the Minority Leader of the Senate, told one of our correspondents on Thursday that the security agents in foreign countries might not hesitate to deal with anybody who tried to infringe on the rights of other people.
He said, “I am travelling next week. I will be in Houston, United States, and I will also be in Atlanta. I will go anywhere that I want to go in the world, I don’t care. Senator Ekweremadu, despite the assault he suffered, has also said that people should be free to go to wherever they want.
“Because of that, I do not really see why anybody should be afraid to exercise their rights. It is only in Nigeria that people do things without getting the appropriate sanctions.”
There are indications that the South-East governors may reach out to broker peace with IPOB.
Also, it was gathered that the South-East governors’ letter to President Buhari, about four days after the incident in Germany, showed the governors were under pressure to win back the hearts of the people.
There’s still a window for negotiation –South-East govs
The Chairman of the South-East Governors’ Forum, David Umahi, who is also the Governor of Ebonyi State, has said there is enough window for negotiations because governors of the region are open and available for peace.
Speaking to one of our correspondents through his Chief Press Secretary, Emma Uzor, Umahi said governors of the region had in the past shown solidarity with the IPOB leader, saying they were still “very willing to sit down with him (Kanu) again over this current issue.”
He said, “The Operation Python Dance, which Kanu is alleging that the governors brought to the zone was beyond the governors themselves; they rallied round him and advised him then, even though he didn’t take their advice, but rather accused them of bringing the military into the zone.
“Kanu lied against the governors over the Operation Python Dance in the zone then. The armed forces are under the supervision and instruction of the President, not the governors.
“There is still enough window for negotiations and the South-East governors are open and available for peace. Nnamdi Kanu is our son; nobody would dare to kill him, because he is an Igbo man. Although we disagree to agree, there must always a meeting point.
S’East govs won’t cancel trips –Forum
Meanwhile, Uzor has said that the South-East governors won’t cancel their foreign trips because of the threat.
He said, “Why would the governors cancel their trips? This is unnecessary because any governor in the zone who has an engagement outside the country that is geared towards the development of his state will travel to attend to such an engagement.
“The governors have freedom of movement. Remember, IPOB said they have rights by protesting; so also do the governors have their own freedom of movement and they should be allowed to exercise their rights.
“Nobody should infringe on anybody’s rights. Nobody has the right to stop the governors from travelling anywhere in the world. It is their fundamental human rights and not even IPOB has the power to deny them such freedom.”
IPOB’s N1m bounty on S’East govs itinerary suspicious –Ohanaeze youths
Meanwhile, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council on Friday said the N1m bounty placed by IPOB to monitor the overseas itinerary of South-East governors was suspicious.
The Ohanaeze youth wing said the bounty, which was offered after the attack on Ekweremadu in Germany, was an indication that IPOB was being sponsored by political interest groups within the country.
The President-General of the Ohanaeze youth wing, Okechukwu Isiguzor, said, “We are angrily calling for a truce over the raging threats and counter-threats between the South-East governors and IPOB from both quarters.
Ekweremadu returns to Enugu amid jubilation
Hundreds of Igbo youths trooped out to receive Ekweremadu in Enugu on Friday, a week after he was attacked in Germany by IPOB members.
The youths, under the aegis of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Worldwide comprising the seven Igbo-speaking states, took over the road from the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, all the way to Ekweremadu’s house chanting “Nzogbu nzogbu,” an Igbo solidarity song.
They said they came out to express their solidarity to the senator.
The President of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Worldwide, Arthur Obiora, who spoke on the solidarity march, noted that if anybody in Igboland should be visited with such treatment, it was not Ekweremadu, who he described as a “mentor and defender.”
MFA dismisses video showing Onyema being harassed in Vienna
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has dismissed a video circulating on the social media, purporting to show disruption of a meeting the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, was holding with some members of the Nigerian community in the Embassy of Nigeria in Vienna, Austria.
The ministry explained that the incident captured in the video took place three years ago, adding, however, that Onyema was not harassed out of the venue as speculated.
The MFA spokesperson, Ferdinand Nwonye, clarified in a statement in Abuja on Friday that a group of no more than five individuals had complained that they were not given the opportunity to speak during the interactive session.
In a related manner, the special counsel for IPOB, Aloy Ejimakor, has rebuffed a statement credited to the leader of the Ndigbo in Germany, Mr Ogechukwu Nsofor, that IPOB would lose 70 per cent of Igbo in the European country.
According to Ejimakor, “The so-called Igbo leader in Germany is wrong that IPOB will lose the support of the Igbo in Germany. I think Nigerians, particularly the Igbo, need to see the Ekweremadu incident in Germany from the prism of German law.”
We’ll disgrace, arrest Buhari in Japan, says Kanu
Daring President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday, IPOB leader Kanu said members of the group in the Republic of Japan had received orders from him to disgrace and arrest the President when he arrived the Asian country on Sunday.
According to Kanu, President Buhari must be arrested and handed over to Japanese authorities to enable him to answer for his alleged mass murder and crimes against humanity, which he allegedly committed in Nigeria between 2015 and 2019.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, had earlier on Friday informed Nigerians that the President would leave Nigeria for Japan on Sunday to participate in the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development, holding in the City of Yokohama from August 28-30, 2019.
But in a statement on Friday evening, the pro-Biafra leader urged its members in the country to mobilise and ensure that they arrest President Buhari, saying they were ready for the legal aftermath of the action.