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Afenifere, M/Belt storm Ojukwu’s
•South-South Movement too
NKIRU OKEKE, Enugu and ALPHONSUS NWEZE, Onitsha
A ground swell of support yesterday
came for Ikemba Nnewi, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu from
pan-Yoruba body Afenifere, the South-South Movement, Ijaw National
Congress (INC) and Middle Belt Progressives in his Enugu home, over his face-off
with the State Security Services (SSS).
The groups were on solidarity visits under
the platform of Ethnic Nationalities Forum.
acting leader, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, who spoke on behalf of the visitors,
described Ojukwu as a lover of Nigeria and one who detests violence even as the
Ikemba called for the convocation of a national conference to resolve the
visible and debilitating contradictions besetting the Nigerian federation,
adding that the country is in trouble.
Ojukwu also said he would not be cowed by
anybody in Nigeria.
Also, the Movement for the Actualisation
of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) has accused the Federal Government of
double standards in the latter’s reaction to agitation by different ethnic-based
organisations in the country.
Among those who stormed the residence of
the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in the
2003 elections, apart from Chief Fasoranti, were the former governor of Ondo
State, Chief Adebayo Adefarati, chieftain of Afenifere, Chief Adeniyi
Ajayi, co-ordinator of South South Movement, Mr. Solomon Asamota (SAN) and
Prince Jide Akinbiyi.
Others were leader of Afenifere in
Lagos State, Alhaji Ganiyu Dawodu, chairman of Afenifere in Ogun State,
Chief Akinola and chairman, Middle Belt Progressive Movement, Mr. P. A. Dabok.
Speaking on behalf of the group, Chief
Fasoranti maintained that Ojukwu’s action since he came back from exile in the
early 80s pointed to the facts that he wanted a united Nigeria.
Said he: "We are here to tell you on the
situation that you find yourself today. We know you will be unruffled.
"I know since you came back, you have not
spoken in support of violence. Your movement, your actions point to the fact
that you want one Nigeria where everybody will be a citizen.
who had declined the SSS invitation for him for questioning over an opinion he
held on MASSOB, in his response, said that the only thing the country need is a
round table conference for people to table their problems.
According to him, "Nigeria is in trouble,
but we must find a way of putting Nigeria right and we must remain true to
ourselves and true to our people. All the ethnic nationalities in Nigeria have a
stake in Nigeria and they must exercise their rights.
"If any Nigerian from any part of Nigeria
feels marginalised, the answer is not shout up, the answer is ‘brother sit down,
let us discuss it’ because it is the only way you can find a solution. Let
nobody deceive you and say that we don’t need a national conference. It is the
beginning of wisdom in this country. We must sit down in the round table and
discuss our problems."
He added that "Clinton, former U.S
president said ‘for 200 years we have been trying to make our union more
perfect.’ We say for 40 years we had enough experience. We have not begun yet. A
situation might arise where our constitution will be mandatorily reviewed every
five years. What we think is good today, might be quite primitive in future. Our
children might design a better Nigeria."
On his harassment by the SSS, Ojukwu said
the nation’s past heroes suffered the same fate in the hands of government, but
maintained that he would not be cowed by anybody.
Said he: "What I am suffering today, many
leaders in the past had suffered it. Awolowo was taken, humiliated before the
public. Even his own people have wrong opinions against him. He died a hero.
Abiola was humiliated, the wife was humiliated.
"Just look through the history. All we are
doing is bring up our leaders, have them intimidated and cut off from us. But in
these past few days, I said they will not cow me and certainly they will not
separate me from my people."
Members of the Ethnic Nationality Forum
later went into a closed-door meeting with Ojukwu.
Director of information of MASSOB, Uchenna
Madu said in a statement in Onitsha, Anambra State, that government was
favouring the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), based mainly in the South-West, and
Sharia fundamentalists, in the North, and treating their agitations with
According to him, no member of both
organisations is before any court on charges of treason.
He also said that no political leader or
notable figurer from the South-West or North had been questioned by the Federal
Government in connection with the activities of OPC and the Sharia
The MASSOB director described as curious a
situation where the federal government cannot muster courage to prefer
treasonable felony charges against members of OPC and the fundamentalists who
unleash terror and kill fellow Nigerians.
But, MASSOB members, Madu noted are
non-violent in their agitation, but are hounded into prison, charged with
treason and sometimes killed by police while some Igbo leaders are harassed and
Comrade Madu said that the only way to
explain what he described as this selective and discriminatory treatment was
that there is pathological hatred of Ndigbo by some elements in the
According to MASSOB, these officials still
regard Ndigbo as conquered or vanquished people who should only be seen
and not heard.
The organisation lamented, the present
nationwide crackdown on MASSOB members, pointing out that more than 200 members
of the Movement are being detained.
Despite those hurdles, Comrade Madu said,
the struggle for a Sovereign State of Biafra is not mission impossible and
called on Ndigbo to rise up to the occasion.
He claimed that the greatest tragedy of
the Igbo race would be the failure of the present generation to bequeath a
legacy to the future generation of Igbo.
"It would amount to subjecting the future
generations of Ndigbo to perpetual enslavement and servitude in a Nigeria
that does not at all believe that Ndigbo have equal rights with other
ethnic nationalists within it," he said.