Traditional rulers in the South East under the umbrella of the South East Council of Traditional Rulers, have expressed dismay over what they called rapid deterioration of affairs in Igbo land resulting in gruesome killings and destruction of property.
The stakeholders also raised the alarm that the atmosphere is tense in South East due to what they described as progressive militarisation of their homeland.
According to them, across the five states of the political zone and other Igbo speaking areas, there is a distinct feeling of disaffection, frustration and distrust, all which they said are alien to their nature and tradition.
As part of creating an enabling environment for reconciliation and peace building, they demanded the need to, forthwith, end the ongoing sit-at-home on Mondays or any other days in the South East so that normal economic activities resume without intimidation or molestation by any persons or groups.
In a statement by the body, yesterday, the leaders said: “It is an age-long character of Ndi Igbo to resolve internal conflicts and disagreements peacefully through consultation and constructive engagement, and not by violence and physical conflict. Consequently, our grief and deep concern have become more manifest and compounded due to the existential challenge that now befalls our homeland.
“We note that the South East is the latest of the six political zones in the country to experience internal strife. In this regard, we are mindful of the long-standing conflicts in the three political zones in the nNorthern part of the country spearheaded by the Boko Haram movement. We are also mindful of the attacks on innocent persons and communities in the South East and South West zones by armed bandits in the guise of cattle herdsmen. Though presently calm, the South South zone had her share of turbulence and is presently under significant military presence.
“We believe these upheavals around the country are a consequence of the deterioration in leadership at various levels of governance since the unfortunate incursion of our armed forces into the political governance of the country.
“The 1999 Constitution, as amended, which was foisted on the nation by the last military regime, worsened the situation by concentrating powers in the Federal Government to the detriment of the federating units. This has resulted in the appropriation of most of the institutions of governance by one sub-national group, and the progressive denial of fundamental rights of justice, equity, and fairness to the rest of the populace.
“We acknowledge there is anger in the country stemming from the long-running failure of leadership and manifesting in the abuse of time-honoured values, youths unemployment, hunger, injustice, blatant display of wealth in the midst of abject poverty and impunity amongst persons in positions.
“Though no culprits have yet been apprehended by the law enforcement agencies, there is a distinct feeling that the recent upheaval in Anambra State appears not to be unconnected with the state governorship election on November 6, 2021. That notwithstanding and, in comparison with other states in the country with more sustained violence, but which held elections successfully, we are disappointed by the recent statement by the attorney general of the federation that the government may impose a state of emergency in Anambra for the purpose of the election. We see the statement as another manifestation of the discrimination against Ndi Igbo.
“We believe in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, which Nigeria subscribes to and enshrined in her constitution, and which guarantee basic rights and freedoms to all individuals and groups, including the right to protest. We also believe such protests and disagreements should be civil, non-violent, and within the provisions of the laws of the country. We further believe that one’s attempt to assert one’s rights and freedoms should not constrain, impede, or compromise the rights and freedom of others.”
In order to restore genuine peace and normalcy in the South East based on justice, equity, fairness, love, and mutual understanding and respect, the traditional fathers of Ndiigbo called on president Muhammadu Buhari to show sagacity, pragmatism, statesmanship, and fatherliness by causing the IPOB to be de-proscribed as a terrorist organisation, and Nnamdi Kanu to be released from detention into the hands of the Igbo traditional and religious leaders. The group also asked the president to de-escalate the military presence in the South East as normalcy returns,” the group said.