From Fred Itua, Abuja
Former governor of Sokoto State Senator Aliyu Wamakko has accused South East and South-South leaders of giving tacit support to secessionists in the two regions.
In a signed statement on Saturday, made available to newsmen, Senator Wamakko said silence on the part of leaders of the region was no longer golden, warning that the country was in clear danger.
He warned that if South-East leaders fail to call the secessionists to order, Northern leaders may be left with no choice but to stop dousing the tension growing in their region.
The senator said though citizens have the right to express their grievances, hapless citizens should not be targeted for any attacks. He condemned recent attacks on onion traders in Imo State.
‘For whatever reason it is, I want to loudly call them out to speak up. Silence is no longer acceptable in the face of this clear danger and threat against the country. The silence by political leaders and other prominent persons from that part of the country tells us only one thing: Their tacit approval for the activities of the murderous IPOB gangs,’ the Sokoto senator said.
‘As leaders of our own people, we have been under intense pressure over the current situation. We cannot bear it any longer. If leaders from the South-East feel they can allow their own people to do what they wanted, we may have no choice but to stop dousing the increasing tension among our own followers.
‘There is no part of Nigeria without its own share of discomfort and even reservations about the state of our country. Addressing such challenges require sincere political engagement, not threats and violence. Besides, the quest for political answers to one’s grievances should never be directed at hapless citizens who are going about their own legitimate businesses. The day the victim decides to pay back the aggressor it will not be good for everybody.
‘I, like all well-meaning Nigerians, have followed with disbelief, pain and disgust the happenings in the fast few months in the South-East and parts of South-South zones of Nigeria. We have seen a disturbing snowballing of a little flame into a raging fire that is threatening the peace and stability of Nigeria as a country.
‘What could have been dismissed as the action of a few ‘misguided’ youths is now clearly becoming an agenda for which there is almost a wholesome backing from those who should have cautioned their children and nip the emerging crisis in the bud.
‘While expressions and legitimate demands fall within the constitutional rights of all citizens in a constitutional democracy, it is sad to note that what we are witnessing today has transcended beyond genuine expression into a full-scale war against Nigeria and a section of its peoples.
‘Many Northerners living peacefully in some states in the South-East have come under undue harassments lately while a number of them have been murdered in cold blood for simply coming from a section of the country.
‘Prior to the assassination of Ahmed Gulak last Sunday in Imo, tens of our people have suffered a similar fate in the hands of the increasingly emboldened IPOB militants. Those killings are largely under-reported perhaps because the victims are not prominent and partly because of a deliberate culture of silence in a section of the media about what is happening.
‘In the past week alone, there have seen three incidences of arsons and looting against properties belonging to Northern traders travelling in the South-East. Last weekend, a truck of onions with about 500 bags of the commodity was ransacked by members of the IPOB in a daylight robbery in Owerri.
‘They sold the onions and ran away with the money before the police could save the other truck they similarly took. Around the same time, two trucks conveying palm oil from Enugu to Kano were intercepted and razed down in Nsukka, for no reason. Just yesterday, a truck delivering livestock to Anambra was burnt down along with the animals it carried in the streets of Awka.
‘Through all these, as individual leaders and collectively, we have maintained a studied silence by avoiding anything that will further rock the boat. Rather, we have been restraining our own people who are victims of these atrocities by preaching patience and peace.
‘Regrettably, but curiously, our friends and compatriots, leaders of Igbo extraction, have remained dead silent in the face of increasing assault and effort by their own people to stock a nationwide mayhem.’