Tony John, Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike has charged the twenty-three council chairmen and youths in the State to identify members of proscribed separatist group Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in the State.
The Governor warned that any council chairman that allows IPOB to hold processions and hoist its flag within their jurisdiction in Rivers risks sack.
He made this assertion during a meeting with all twenty-three Local Government Chairmen, Community Development Committees and youths leaders at the Government House in Port Harcourt Monday.
The Governor described Rivers as the most accommodating state for all Nigerians, stating that there has never been any historical incident of different ethnic groups clashing in the State as has been witnessed in other parts of the country.
‘We can never be against any ethnic group. We can never do that. We have lived in harmony with the Ibos, the Hausas, and with Edo people. Everybody that comes to this State, we have lived in harmony with. And so, Nigerians must commend Rivers State as a place where you have never had a problem between this group and that group,’ the Governor said.
He maintained that while the people of Rivers believe in the unity of the country, they would not allow criminals under the aegis of IPOB to continue to threaten the stability of the State.
‘There is one terrorist group they call IPOB. I did not declare them a terrorist group. The court declared them a terrorist group. Not me. The Federal Government declared them a terrorist group. IPOB cannot use Rivers State to be a place where they will be launching attacks. If you allow that, your future, your children’s future is gone,’ Wike said.
‘Go to Oyigbo and see what they have done,’ the Governor said, speaking of IPOB hoisting its flag following a violent attack. [They] destroyed the court. What did the court do? See the soldiers they killed and burnt them. See the policemen they killed and burnt them and then you said people will sit and fold their arms.’
The Governor, calling on the people of Rivers to be vigilant, said that the State cannot be colonised or annexed by any group as long as he remains Governor.
He asserted that Rivers can not be annexed to any State or any zone. According to him, Rivers is Niger Delta and would remain in Niger Delta.
The Governor said that while any Nigerian is allowed to reside in Rivers State, but that those who wish to do so must live in peace with the people of the State.
‘Ibos are living and doing their business here and they will continue to live and do their business here. We support that. But, that terrorist group called IPOB cannot determine what happens in our State, to tell us where they own. It will never happen and we must not allow it to happen,’ the Governor declared.
Wike charged all Chairmen of councils, youth leaders and CDCs to go into their various communities and identify all IPOB members.
The Governor stressed that nobody of Igbo extraction legitimately residing and doing business in the State should be harassed.
‘But there are criminal elements that we must not allow, and the criminal elements are those who said they are IPOB members. The Federal Government has proscribed them, I have proscribed them,’ he said.
He called on the people to defend the territory of Rivers State and ensure no part of the State is annexed by a criminal organisation or terrorist organisation.
‘We cannot allow it. All our vigilant groups must be encouraged. Everybody must be at alert. Work with the security agencies to make sure nothing call IPOB exist in this state. No procession. Not even a meeting somewhere. Identify where they hold meeting cells,’ he said.
The Commissioner of Youth Development, Ohia Prince Obi, lauded the Governor for interfacing with the youths, saying it would give them a sense of belonging in the affairs of the State.
The Chairman, National Youth Council of Nigeria in Rivers State, Chijoke Ihunwo, appealed to Governor Wike for clemency for “wanted” Stanley Mgbere, who led IPOB members to attack the palace of the king of Onne, but was rejected.