South East governors on Saturday explained that they decided to proscribe the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) because its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, had lost control of the group.
According to the Chairman of Southern Governors Forum, Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State, IPOB had actually lost focus and was causing tension
Umahi who spoke to reporters in Abakaliki said investors were scared of doing business in the region, adding that IPOB’s activities were heightening tension in the Southeast.
In Owerri, Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha said Kanu ‘is on his own.”
He spoke at the New Year Festival, which was attended by the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi. In Umuahia, Abia State Commissioner of Police Anthony Ogbizi alleged that petrol bombs and other explosives were recovered from Kanu’s home.
He said 37 suspected IPOB members would appear in court tomorrow for the torching of Ariaria market and related offences.
Umahi said tension had eased since the proscription, adding: “The activities of IPOB in the Southeast have denied us of foreign investments and it is very important that our people should understand that and should know that.”
“There are things you do that you have control over and so you work on things you have control over and leave the rest that you don’t have control over.
“ Nobody wants to come to a place that is under tension that’s why we want to keep pressing for peace.”
The governor said that based on evidence before him, soldiers did not attack IPOB last Sunday as claimed by Kanu.
According to him, it was IPOB members who threw bottles and stones at soldiers who were passing by Kanu’s street.
“When you start a small fire, it can go very far and become difficult to control. The IPOB activities were gradually getting out of control of Nnamdi Kanu. Soldiers were passing when IPOB members started throwing stones and other objects at them and it sparked off the clash between the group and the military,” Umahi said.
He narrated how an IPOB sympathiser sent out the telephone numbers of Southeast governors,Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu and others.
“And all our people could do was calling us to insult us and talk to us anyhow,” the governor stated, adding: “These are people that never experienced any war in their lives.”
He said the lives of Northerners and other non-indigenes in the Southeast must be guaranteed, warning that security agencies had been directed to deal with anyone attempting to cause a breach of the peace.
“Our focus is how to save the life of every Nigerian.We believe in a united Nigeria. Lives of people are involved and we must not play politics with that”, he said.
“Anybody that wants to foment trouble must be crushed and I want the security agencies to beef up security around all the non-indigenes in the state and to report any problem to me because we must maintain the peace.”
The governor asked Igbo youths to stop insulting President Muhammadu Buhari and other leaders.
He said Northern governors would soon visit the Southeast to further ease tension in the country and promote national unity.
A similar visit to the North will be undertaken by Southeast governors.
The governor said the majority of Igbo were opposed to secession, adding that all they want is to be treated fairly in the country.
His words: ”That is why we are all talking about restructuring. There is no part of this country that is not feeling marginalised somehow and that is why all the zones are setting up committees on restructuring.”
Umahi, however, noted that injustice or marginalisation should not be an excuse for secession, maintaining that dialogue should be the best way to resolve and redress all differences.
On operation Egwu Eke II (Python Dance II), the governor said the exercise was never targeted at IPOB but intended to curb crime, especially kidnapping and armed robbery, in the zone.
Heads of security agencies in the state and some principal officers in government attended the briefing.