From Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
Igbo Women Elders Council, an affiliate of Ohaneze Ndigbo, has called on residents of the South East to give peace a chance in the region, issuing a 90-day ultimatum to South East governors to pass and sign into law, an Anti-open grazing bill in their respective states.
The group, comprising women above 60 years from Igbo speaking communities across the country, also called on the federal government to restructure the country to ensure true federalism or conduct a referendum for the South East residents to vote to remain in the country or not.
Speaking on Tuesday during a press conference at Awka, Anambra State, the Convener of the group, Chief Mrs Chika Ibeneme, said they are against the recent asylum offered by the British government to southeasterners and urged the UK to rather put pressure on the federal government to restructure the country to give all citizens a level playing ground and a sense of belonging.
‘As an immediate remedial measure before the situation gets out of hand, the Federal Government must, without further delay, demilitarize the South East Region and its key outposts, including its named gateway neighbours by ending the current military and police siege in the region. We therefore demand immediate withdrawal of all the deployed military and police personnel on our roads, boundaries and other strategic locations in the entire South East,’ she said.
‘We call on the federal government to immediately end the policy of flooding our land and its outposts with compromised Muslim military and police commanders. This must be reversed while all the top officers we have identified above must be transferred out of the South East states and its boundaries.
‘To ensure effective policing in any region, the percentage of non-indigenous Military and Policing officers, including senior officers, must be drastically reduced to 30% so as to allow indigenous officers to fill the remaining 70% of the total slots or positions and give the indigenous citizens of the region a true sense of security and safety.
‘All killer herdsmen, clandestinely aided and protected by federal security forces who have now permanently settled in farmlands, bushes and forests in our land and our key neighbouring states must be moved out and relocated back to wherever they were brought from.’