In view of the press statement from the National Association of Igbo Youths on the Abba-Ukpo land dispute and the attack on the personality of Chimamanda Adichie (a celebrated literary icon of international repute), Abba Elites’ Association, an umbrella association for undergraduates and graduates of Abba community, deem it fit to state some salient facts the National Association of Igbo Youths failed to address or deliberately shied away from addressing:
- The philanthropic gestures and magnanimous disposition of Prince Arthur Eze is not in dispute. However, his philanthropy does not place him beyond doing any wrong nor does it exonerate him from trying to wrongly take the land belonging to the people of Abba.
- No sane lawyer in Nigeria will ever think of going back to a High Court to re-address an issue already concluded at the Supreme Court as the High Court will naturally decline to attend to it. It must be clearly stated here that the legal team representing Abba in the land dispute only went to High Court based on the directive of the Supreme Court. And the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) cannot be too blind as to give the legal team representing Abba a 21-day ultimatum on an accusation of judicial rascality as the facts are there for everyone to see.
- Chimamanda Adichie does not need to have a wide knowledge of the Nigerian legal system or jurisprudence to be able to understand the Supreme Court pronouncement written in a language she has an undisputed command in (English Language). Her article titled ‘My Hometown Under Siege” chronicles the travails of the people of Abba community with clear evidence and facts. With the objectivity expected of a person of her international stature, she even questioned whether Prince Arthur Eze was being ‘unfairly maligned’ and then laid out compelling evidence to the contrary, that can only be ignored by those who do not wish to face the truth.
- Unfortunately, the issue of Police brutality, harassment and intimidation of the people of Abba community raised by Chimamanda Adichie was not addressed by the National Association of Igbo Youths. The pictures and video footages of the actions of the Police in Oye Abba have since gone viral on social media for the world to see. The mammoth number of Police officers deployed to Abba Junction by the Enugu-Onitsha express road to put up a signpost bearing ‘Ukpo junction’ can only be equalled by the number of joint task force of security personnel deployed to the North – Eastern Region of Nigeria where an insurgency has been ongoing for some years now. Deploying that number of Police officers was meant to intimidate but it was unnecessary and a waste of energy as the people of Abba have always been known as peace loving people.
- The Igbo Youths failed to address the issue of the Police spuriously in a clandestine commando style arresting and unlawfully detaining some sons and daughters of Abba community without a court order or arrest warrant, and these persons arrested were never charged to court. If this is not harassment and intimidation, we may wish to appeal to be properly educated on what the action of the Nigerian Police is? We would respectfully request the Inspector General of Police and other relevant authorities to look into these issues. Note that most of those arrested are also Igbo youths, so should they be sacrificed on the altar of threat and intimidation because they spoke out against the injustice meted out to them and their community?
- The Igbo Youths would have gained more prominence if they had addressed the issue raised by Chimamanda Adichie – which is the harassment and intimidation of innocent citizens. Instead, they resorted to personal attacks on her. If she raised any issue against your iconic leading light of Ndi-Igbo, Prince Arthur Eze, it behooves you to have upturned her facts instead of attacking her personality. This is highly unacceptable and cannot be said to be the true pictorial behaviour of any average Igbo youth which you have claimed to be representing.
- Chimamanda Adichie is one of the most celebrated writers in the world today. She is known to speak out about injustice. She is a proud Igbo daughter that has made the Igbo people proud within and outside the shores of this country; one who has demonstrated her love of Igboland in general, a daughter who is also an Igbo youth and presumably your member. To attack her in such a disrespectful manner speaks greatly of how members of Igbo Youth can be treated in situations like this for airing their sincere views.
- The Igbo Youth went even further to drag the personality of a retired and accomplished professor of international repute in the person of Professor Adichie, Chimamanda Adichie’s father. Professor Adichie is an 87 year old elder, and Nigeria’s first professor of statistics, an innocent man who has done nothing in all this. It was rather very unfortunate and highly disrespectful to an Igbo elder. This is not forgetting that you severally mentioned in your press release of your respect for elders, which is part of the Igbo culture. To speedily make a U-turn and cast aspersion and insult on a renowned Igbo elder is very unfortunate and ill-intended.
- The National Association of Igbo Youths is purporting to speak for all Igbo youths, and are thereby presumably claiming an affiliation informal or otherwise with Ohanaeze Ndi-Igbo. It is expected that wherever there is any dispute between Igbo brothers and sisters, Ohanaeze Ngi-Igbo as a highly respected organization is meant to intervene through mediation, and as such it would be unfortunate for an organization of such repute to take sides in an issue and make pronouncements before fully considering the crux and nitty-gritty of the issue under contention and hearing from all sides.
- We wish to plead that people should not allow themselves to be used to attack Ndi-Abba and the personality of Chimamanda Adichie and her family without doing good research and getting hold of facts on the land dispute under contention. We also wish to state that we do not hold any personal grudges against Prince Arthur Eze or any other personality, and we believe the same can be said for Chimamanda Adichie. We, however, want to implore that the focus be placed where it rightly belongs – which is the issues of intimidation and harassment of Abba people. Chimamanda Adichie wrote a well-researched article based on evidence of what is occurring in Abba community. Any responses to her article should focus on the issue and avoid personal attacks. Anyone who supports any form of injustice has invariably joined the team of oppressors and cannot exonerate themselves from any action taken by unjust persons.
Azowue O. Emmanuel
National President, Abba Elites Association