Ndigbo Lagos, the umbrella body of all Igbo organisations in Lagos, has expressed worry over the news that 486 Boko Haram suspects were arrested in Abia State by Nigerian soldiers.
Lamenting the development, the group, in a statement issued Tuesday by its Director of Communications and Strategy, Chief Chuma Igwe, and obtained by THEWILL, the group said even more condemnable about the incursion is the official information that amongst those arrested was a notorious and wanted Boko Haram kingpin.
“It is instructive that the apprehension of these 486 suspected Boko Haram members in 33 Toyota Hiace buses in Abia State, along Enugu-Port Harcourt road at about 2.00 am, occurred just a few days after the timely discovery of six time-bombs at the Port Harcourt Road branch of Winners Chapel Church, Owerri, a church that reportedly has over 10,000 worshippers on Sunday services,” the statement said.
Ndigbo Lagos said : “While we salute the gallantry and courage of the Nigerian Army for intercepting the suspects, and the vigilance of the worshippers in identifying the bombs, there are indications that these recent subtle but deliberate push by the terrorists into Igbo land has included the use of Fulani herdsmen to penetrate and infiltrate the underbelly of South Eastern part of Nigeria from the remote frontier villages of Enugu and Ebonyi States.”
“It is on record that, among many such complaints, in recent weeks the people of Ezeagu Local Government of Enugu State have cried out about infiltration of their villages by AK47 wielding ‘Fulani Herdsmen’. “According to the Vanguard Newspaper of June 10, 2014, Dr. Obiorah Ozobu, the President General of Ezeagu General Assembly was quoted as saying that in a neighbouring village “… a farmer was shot dead by these Fulani people and we have had three reported cases of rape of village women that went to their farm.”
The group stated further: “When these occurrences are juxtaposed against the statement by Major General Chris Olukolade, Director of Defense Information (Vanguard, April 23; Leadership, April 24; Nigerian Tribune, April 24) revealing that the identification of these marauding semi-nomadic as including elements of the Boko Haram terrorists was made in the course of interrogating the Fulani herdsmen who were arrested after a series of killings of hundreds of innocent babies, children and the aged in Taraba State, then it is a great cause for concern.
“Such rape, arson and murderous attacks have also been visited on many minority ethnic nationalities in Benue, Plateau, Adamawa, Kaduna and Plateau States among others.”
The group maintained further: “Cattle rearing are private commercial ventures and not a public infrastructure. This is the 21st Century and nomadic cattle grazing are outdated. In saner climes, livestock farmers acquire land, cultivate vegetation or buy feed, sink boreholes and pen their animals. And this affords them better security, veterinary services and market accessibility.
“The Igbo Nation had in the past suffered the most, through a reprehensible genocide and a Military/Political diarchic conspiracy that has left them with little or no Federal infrastructure presence in a country that has spent budgeted tens of trillion of Naira over the past 40 years. Paradoxically, Ndigbo, who dwell peacefully all over the country, have laboured to develop many Nigerian towns and cities more than any other nationality group in Nigeria can claim.
“There is presently no doubt about the intentions of Boko Haram and the Fulani herdsmen to plunge this nation into darkness, including the invasion of the South Eastern region. We call on the Nigerian Government to unequivocally deploy all its military might in crushing this vermin called Boko Haram before it consumes the Nation.
“We also use this medium to caution those politicians, religious leaders and regional irredentists in the North whose rhetoric and body language have in the past two years stoked the amber of terrorism.
“We call on the Sultan, Emirs and Political leaders of the North with conscience to completely demonstrate their relevance by leading this war against terrorism from the front without recourse to sophistry, if together we must avert the calamity that is now enveloping Nigeria- a country we have all laboured to build in the past hundred years. They need to rein them in.
We warn those who ride the tiger that they are bound to end in its belly, earlier than they imagine.”
Ndigbo Lagos therefore warned that an invasion of the South East portends very dangerous consequences for the Nigerian nation, even on a scale previously unimagined.
Maintaining that Ndigbo are peace-loving and industrious people blessed by God, the statement said: “We at the leadership of Ndigbo are ever willing and ready to promote the peace and prosperity of Nigeria. But we are concerned about the possible reaction of our youths who have endured loss of lives and property with the attendant psychological degradations over the years, even as many of them have been forced to relocate back home as the only secure place they can live in peace.
“Now, they have nowhere to run to anymore. We are putting the Federal Government, the cultural and Islamic religion leadership in the North, and indeed all patriotic Nigerians on notice.”