Governors in the Southeastern part of Nigeria, under the umbrella of South East Governors’ Forum in a meeting in Enugu on Saturday have declared that members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB are not speaking for the entire region on the call for secession.
However, the governors warned the security agencies in the region to stop killing Igbo youths, and urged them to respect their rights, while condemning the attacks on security infrastructures in the zone.
The meeting was a follow up to the consultation the Presidential delegation, led by the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (retd), had with the Igbo leaders, on June 11, 2023, on the security challenges confronting the region in particular and Nigeria in general.
Chairman South-East Governors Forum and Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief David Umahi, who read the resolutions of the leaders assured all Nigerians living in the South-East region that they have no reason to fear or leave the region.
Umahi in the same vain appealed to leaders of other regions to ensure the protection of Igbos living in their regions, noting that they have uncovered some threats against Igbos living in other parts of the country by their people.
The communique read in parts, “Arising from the meeting of 11th of June 2021, with the presidential team led by the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (retd), we the South-East people agreed to a further meeting with them as requested by them.
“Consequent upon that, we scheduled our own meeting today the 19th of June to enable us discuss as brothers and sisters and articulate our positions to enable us to not only engage the presidential team but also engage our people over all burning issues.
“The meeting set up committees under the Ohanaeze to articulate and address our position on all burning issues to further meet among ourselves and thereafter meet with the presidential team.
“We the Igbos do reaffirm our commitment to one United Nigeria under a platform of justice, equality of rights, fairness, love and respect for one another.
“We have noted threats by some groups in some other regions against our people of South-East while we firmly promise to protect every one either from our own region or other regions living in our places.
“We plead with leaders of other regions to please note the threats to our people and to please address the threats to our people and to protect them.
“We condemn the killing of security agents, the burning of strategic infrastructures and killing of civilians in South-East and even in other regions.
“We request our security agencies to please discharge their duties within the rules of engagement and the law.
“We request our National Assembly members from South East to please support state police creation in the ongoing constitutional amendment.
“We condemn in totality the activities of violence secessionist groups in South East and elsewhere. We firmly proclaim that we do not support them and they do not speak for South-East.”
They, however, rejected the impression that the leaders were silent over youths agitation for secession in the South-East, describing such notions as incorrect.
They noted, “South-East Governors, Ohanaeze President, our National Assembly members and notable leadership from South-East had come out publicly many times in the past including Ministers from the South-East to speak against such agitations.
“In order not to mismanage the unfortunate situation we found ourselves, South-East leaders have set up a committee to engage such youths to stop and allow the elders of the south east to address their fears.”
He added, “Meeting directed our governors and Ohanaeze Ndigbo to liaise with indigenes of northern part of Nigeria and other indigenes of other regions that are living in the South-East to come out openly and to assured their people of course the nation Nigeria that they are very safe and well protected while living in south east.
“The meeting endorsed our South-East Joint Security outfit ‘Ebubeagu’ and ask all the personnel of Ebubeagu to work with the security agencies and to respect the rights and privileges of all those living in the South-East and her visitors.”
Leaders in attendance are, Governors of Enugu, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; Ebonyi, David Umahi; Abia, Okezie Ikpeazu; deputy Governors of Anambra, Nkem Okeke and Imo, Prof Placid Njoku.
Others are former deputy President of the Senate, Prof. Ike Ekweremadu; Senate Minority Leader and the Chairman South East National Assembly Caucus, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, Senator Sam Egwu.
Other notable leaders in attendance are Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Prof George Obiozor; Chief Nnia Nwodo, Minister of State for Steal and Mining, Dr Uche Oga; Minister of Labour and Productivity, Senator Chris Ngige.
Also, Catholic Bishop of Enugu Diocese, Most Rev Callistus Onaga; Bishop of Nsukka Catholic Diocese, Most Rev Geoffrey Onah; Anglican Archbishop of Enugu Provence, Most Rev Emmanuel Chukwuma; Methodist Bishop of Enugu, Dr Christopher Ede; Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Most Rev Emmanuel Ede among others.