From Geoffrey Anyanwu, Enugu and Molly Kilete, Abuja
Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide has raised the alarm over the ‘shoot-on-sight’ order given to soldiers against dissenting Igbo youths, warning it was an order for another pogrom and genocide.
President General of Ohanaeze, Prof. George Obiozor, in a statement, yesterday, admonished the Federal Government to refrain from the use of force in resolving national crisis.
He also flayed the government for the pattern of deployment of northern military officers to the South-East saying it lends credence to the report of the shoot-on-sight order. In a statement issued yesterday in Enugu on his behalf by the National Publicity Secretary of the group, Alex Ogbonnia, the Ohanaeze President tasked the Federal Government to “learn a lesson from history by not fighting an unwinnable war against nationalism, but seek possible peaceful options that are the only solution that guarantees national unity and peaceful coexistence.”
Part of the statement read: “The attention of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide has been drawn to the shoot-on-sight order given to Nigerian soldiers on how to engage Igbo youths in the oncoming week. The Sahara Reporters, May 8, elaborated on the new secret plan which by the grace of God has come to the public domain. The report further revealed that the exercise will commence from Orlu in Imo State, South East Nigeria. This is very disturbing.
“The pattern of deployment of northern military officers to the South-East lends credence to the above report. Sahara Reporters revealed that in preparation for the above, the Nigerian army has posted northern Muslims as commanders over its operations and brigades in Anambra, Imo, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Enugu, Benue, Edo, Delta and Rivers.
“In Anambra State, the Cantonment Commandant of the 302 Artillery Regiment, Onitsha, is Col. Abdulsalam Abubakar Sambo, a Hausa-Fulani Muslim; while in Imo State, the Brigade Commander of 34 Brigade, Obinze, is Brig. Gen Ibrahim Tukura, another northerner; in Abia State, the Brigade Commander of 14 Brigade, Ohafia, is Brig. Gen M. Ibrahim, still, a northerner; while in Akwa Ibom, the Brigade Commander of 2 Brigade, Uyo, is Brig. Gen Faruk Mijinyawa, another northerner. This is truly worrisome.”
Insisting that the current problems confronting Nigeria, such as ethnic militia, agitation for secession, insurgency, were a product of sustained orchestrated injustice in governance, Obiozor lamented that “sub-national consciousness or ethnocentric nationalism which is a dangerous form of nationalism to national unity has taken over Nigeria. The dream of Nigeria unity is receding and fading fast with violence, crises and conflicts.”
It also made reference to former senator representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani, who decried that Igbo have been systematically marginalised since the civil war.
“Speaking in Kaduna at a meeting organised by the Association of Eze-Ndigbo in the Diaspora on Saturday, May 8, 2021, Sani described the marginalisation as a ‘collective punishment”’saying ‘there has been a systemic exclusion and marginalisation of your people, stemming from the historical Biafra war. This is a collective punishment.”
Meanwhile, the army headquarters in Abuja has debunked reports that it was only officers of northern extraction that were posted to the South East. Director Army Public Relations, Brig. Gen Mohammed Yerima, who made this known said there was no truth in the report. by an online publication over the allegation. Yerima in a statement said the report was aimed at steering bad blood among peace loving Nigerians who have refused to support the senseless and brutal attacks on security personnel and structures in the South East.
He said the army being a national body does not promote or post its personnel along ethnic or religious lines and that postings are routine exercises and are based on professional competences.
“For the records, let be clear in everyone’s mind that the army does not train, deploy or operate along ethnic, religious, tribal or regional divides. Senior officers are posted to command units based on their capability and competence taking into consideration their posting history.”