Arrest of Igbo Youths without evidence of arms unacceptable to Ohanaeze Ndigbo, says Chieftain

From Maurice Okafor, Enugu

The apex body of all Igbo socio cultural organizations,Ohanaeze Ndigbo worldwide, has cautioned that it will not tolerate the clamp down and massive of Igbo Youths by the Nigerian Army and taking them to unknown destinations, without any evidence that they are in possession of arms.

Ohanaeze Ndigbo sounded this warning in a press statement it issued to news men in Enugu on Thursday,April 22,stating that report that reached the organization revealed that the clamp down has been rampant in Oguta and Ohaji communities of Imo state,since Sunday,April 18.where some youths and other residents whom soldiers from the Nigerian Army ordinarily suspected to be linked to Indigenous People of Biafra are whisked away forcefully.

The statement which was signed by the National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Alex Ogbonnia read in parts,  
‘The attention of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide has been drawn to an ongoing massive arrests of Igbo youths by the Nigerian Army.  

The report indicates that “the military personnel, suspected to be led by the 34 Artillery Brigade, Owerri, since Sunday have been arresting male residents and youths, particularly in Oguta and Ohaji communities and clamping them into vans and taken to unknown destinations”

The report adds that the army are “busy, carrying  out raids, discreet searches and arrests of youths and residents who are suspected to be linked to the Indigenous People of Biafra and its security arm, the Eastern Security Network”.

The apex body of all Igbo socio cultural organizations said it has always condemned the use of arms by unauthorized persons or groups and condemned the canvass for exclusive right of use of AK 47 by Fulani herdsmen, by Governor Bala Mohammed.

Ohanaeze described the arrest of Igbo youths without evidence of their possession of arms as unjust and a breach on the rights of the citizens. The organization lamented that some of those Igbo youths are university graduates without jobs.

‘For the avoidance of doubt, Ohanaeze Ndigbo led by Ambassador Prof. George Obiozor is unequivocal about the use of fire arms by the unauthorized persons, bodies or groups.

Democracy, all over the world vests the absolute authority for the legitimate use of force in government. We had admonished that the exclusive indulgence of AK 47 to the Fulani herdsmen as canvassed by Governor Bala Mohammed is antithetical to the ethos of a decent society’.

‘For the armed forces to arrest the Igbo youths without evidence of arms, means of violence or crime is cowardly, uncivilized and mostly unacceptable to Ohanaeze Ndigbo. It runs contrary to every sense of natural justice and rights of citizenship for the army to invade some Igbo communities in search of youths; most of whom are brilliant university graduates whose society has denied employment and sense of belonging. This is adding salt to festering injury’.

 The organization argued that the soldiers are supposed to have provided sufficient prove of illegal possession of arms or membership of a terrorist organization before embarking on such massive arrest of supposed innocent Igbo youths.

‘Ohanaeze Ndigbo does not just wax lyrical about Igbo youths of all categories or dispositions. We condemn crime irrespective of the source. On the other hand, we stand on a firm wicket that it is ruthless to arrest any Igbo in the guise of membership of a terrorist organization unless there is sufficient evidence of crime or unlawful possession of fire arms’. Ohanaeze beckoned on Chief of Army staff,Major General Ibrahim Attahiru to intervene and halt the ugly development.

‘We  call on the Chief of Army Staff, Major General Ibrahim Attahiru to urgently stop the wave of arrests before it gives impetus to the proposal by the United Kingdom Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to offer asylum to person who actively and openly supports IPOB and likely to be at risk of arrest or detention, and ill-treatment which is likely to amount to persecution’.

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