The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, on Monday, berated the President, Major General Muhammad Buhari (retd.), for the recent utterances on the killings in the South East.
While it condemned the security situation in the South East, the highest Igbo body said that the utterances of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria are not only very uncharitable but mischievous to poison undiscerning minds by insinuating that non-indigenes and security officials are killed by the terrorists in the South East.
Mallam Garba Shehu, the Special Assistant to the President on Media, had on Sunday said, “President Muhammadu Buhari condemned in strong terms the recent attacks against non-indigenes and law enforcement officials by terrorists in the South East,” calling on the “community and religious leaders to speak more forcefully against the killings and to stand up and defend the ethos of the nation’s cultural and religious heritage.”
Reacting to the report in a statement issued on Monday, titled, ‘Insecurity in the South East: Buhari is blaming the victim, the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo worldwide, Ambassador Professor George Obiozor, said Ohanaeze Ndigbo condemned the killings and violence imposed on the South East by President Buhari’s administration, he cannot turn around to blame the victim.
Obiozor, in the statement issued through Ohanaeze National Publicity Secretary, Dr. Alex Ogbonnia, said that to appropriate national problems to the South East of Nigeria was an ethnic prejudice taken too far.
Obiozor stated, “Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide joins the Presidency and indeed the good people of Nigeria in condemning this dastardly act that occurred at Imo State, South East of Nigeria.
“Ohanaeze has repeatedly explained that amongst the Igbo, human life is very sacred. The sanctity of life is so elevated that killing a human being in whatever circumstance is considered an abomination. In fact, it is not in the character of the Igbo to kill in whatever disguise.
“These recent developments are indeed very much alien to the reflexes, culture, and norms of the South East. And we have often called on the Nigerian security operatives to ensure that the perpetrators of such acts are brought to book as a deterrent to others.”
“The apex Igbo body, however, noted that the failure of the Nigerian security agents to fish out the criminals cannot be blamed on the Igbo.
“Ohaneaeze Ndigbo, however, frowns at the statement by the Presidency, which is nuanced against the South East as a haven for terrorists that attack non-indigenes and law enforcement officials, implying that the insecurity persists because the leaders have not forcefully spoken.
“This is very unfair to the Igbo, especially when the presidency knows the root cause and the nature of the insecurity in the South East. It needs to be added that the solution to the insecurity in the South East lies in the enormous powers of the presidency.
The above remarks by the presidency appear to have ignored the prolonged open war with the Boko Haram in the North East; the Banditry in the North West, especially in Katsina State; the Fulani Herdsmen invasion of several communities in the Middle Belt region; the Church massacre at Owo; the daily kidnappings on our highways; the Kaduna-Abuja train abduction, etc,.”
The statement added, “Paradoxically, when the district head of Daura, the hometown of Mr President, was kidnapped and was freed after two months, Mallam Garba Shehu was quoted as saying that the “incident was evidence that Duara was not receiving preferential treatment and that insecurity was a national problem.
“In other words, when insecurity manifests in the North West, it is a national problem; but when, on the other hand, it occurs in the South East, it is blamed on the inability of the ‘community and religious leaders to speak more forcefully against the killings and to stand up and defend the ethos of the nation’s cultural and religious heritage’.
Ohanaeze stated unequivocally, “The Igbo possess the greatest wanderlust as well as the most hospitable dispositions amongst the various ethnicities in the world. The non-indigenes in the South East enjoy untrammeled friendliness, inter-ethnic assimilation and a conducive business environment; what happened to the non-indigenes in the South East is most regrettable as part of the current national calamity.
“One would think that the inevitable consequences of the orchestrated mendacious propaganda, dubiety, subterfuge, sabotage, and serial alienation against the South East of Nigeria are already staring us in the face.”
Ohanaeze queried, “How do we fight insecurity by appointment of service chiefs based on ethnocentric and religious considerations as against the best global practices of military competence?
“Put differently, how can the South East be excluded among the over 16 service chiefs in the Nigerian armed and paramilitary forces and expect insecurity not to fester? And how; and how; and how…..? And when the chickens have come home to roost, we resort to blaming the victim.
“The famous psychologist, William Ryan, espoused that blaming the victim is an atrocious ideology that tries to justify social injustice against a group. The oppressor deliberately creates an unjust chaotic environment for the oppressed; and blames the victims for the inevitable crises that flow therefrom.
“In conclusion, it is very uncharitable, if not mischievous, to poison undiscerning minds by insinuating that non-indigenes and security officials are killed by the terrorists in the South East.
“On the other hand, to appropriate national problem to the South East of Nigeria is an ethnic prejudice taken too far. Invariably, banditry in the North Central persists because their leaders have not forcefully spoken. Rather, they are publicly celebrated and turbaned or still offered the Sheik Gumi option.