East Governors’ Forum said on Sunday that the Indigenous People of Biafra’s (IPOB) order to its members to attack governors and other leaders from the zone was an empty threat.
It also said attacking governors and other leaders from the zone would not in any way resolve their agitation for the restoration of Biafra.
Chairman of the forum and governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, stated this in a statement circulated by his Chief Press Secretary, Emmanuel Uzor.
Daily Independent had reported that IPOB claimed responsibility for the attack on Ike Ekweremadu, former Deputy President of the Senate, in Germany on Saturday.
The group had said its members were under strict orders from its supreme leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, to attack Igbo leaders in any country they are seen for betraying the Igbo cause.
The pro-Biafran group further listed other leaders of the zone on its watch list to include Governors David Umahi of Ebonyi State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, Willie Obiano of Anambra State, Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, and Ohanaeze President-General, Nnia Nwodo.
However, Governor Umahi, in the statement, said the group lacked the powers to track down any South-East governor anywhere in the world.
“They have no such spread and powers to track down South-East governors for attack anywhere in the world. They are too small. I don’t want to say they sound so cowardly, but they can’t see the governors to attack,” the governor said.
Umahi noted that the governors had no problem with the members of the outlawed group to warrant such an order.
According to him, the insecurity in the South-East was a nationwide challenge which was squarely under the Federal Government’s command and control.
“If there is any issue IPOB holds against the governors, they should come home to settle it in Igboland instead of a foreign land.
“What happened was a security issue which was within the purview of the Federal Government. Attacking governors in a foreign land is a wild goose chase. We love them because they are our children.
“IPOB cannot achieve Biafra alone, except with the collaboration of all stakeholders, including the governors. They don’t need to attack the governors to achieve Biafra,” the governor added.
The governors therefore warned members of the group not to allow politicians to use them against the zone.
According to Governor Umahi, “They should come together and work with the governors and the Ohanaeze Ndigbo to achieve the Igbo presidency come 2023, instead of fighting the governors. We want them to be close to us instead.”
Also, a rash of condemnations on Sunday greeted the attack on Senator Ekweremadu in Nuremberg, Germany, on Saturday.
Senate President Ahmad Lawan; Chief Whip of the Senate, Orji Kalu, and Minority Leader of the Senate, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, expressed disappointment over the attack.
While Lawan unreservedly condemned the shameful assault on Ekweremadu, Kalu described the action as uncivilised, unacceptable and barbaric.
In the same tone, Abaribe described it as reprehensible and utterly sacrilegious.
Lawan, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Ola Awoniyi, said Senator Ekweremadu was to give a keynote address at the Second Igbo Annual Cultural Festival and Convention organised by Ndigbo Germany in that city when a mob, which identified itself as members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), invaded the venue to attack an illustrious son of Ndigbo who, in his political career, has consistently identified with and defended the cause of his people.
Lawan said: “It is incredibly absurd for anybody to blame the distinguished senator for the violent criminal activities in his home base, the purported reason cited by the mob for the bewildering attack.
“Senator Ekweremadu, like all his distinguished colleagues in the ninth Assembly of the Senate, is concerned about the insecurity and other challenges in that area and other parts of Nigeria.
“Senator Ekweremadu has also been at the forefront of the patriotic efforts to find lasting solutions to the challenges.
“The barbaric attack on Senator Ekweremadu at a forum to which he was invited to contribute to charting a course for the progress and happiness of Ndigbo debased our values as civilised people. It is most reprehensible and should be condemned by all right-thinking Nigerians.”
Lawan urged the German authorities to identify those involved in the despicable act so that the law could take its course against them.
Kalu, on the other hand, said he was disappointed, irritated and worried, adding that the only way the South-East region could be prosperous was by embracing dialogue, peace, and unity.
While urging Ndigbo to respect leaders at all levels, the former governor of Abia State called on the Embassy of Nigeria in Germany, the German government, and appropriate authorities to bring the perpetrators of the ugly incident to book.
He said: “After watching a viral video of the physical attack on former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweramadu, I was not only disappointed but irritated and disturbed by the action of some members of IPOB.
“The assault on the senator is a slap on Igbo leaders regardless of age, party affiliation, and religion. The perpetrators of the uncivilised act must face the wrath of the law.”
On his part, Abaribe said it smacked of utter ignorance of the prevailing situation at home with regards to what the leaders were doing in the circumstance.
“It is a brazen show of ingratitude to a man who has been at the forefront in the struggle for all that is good for the Igbo race,” Abaribe said.
The minority leader, in a statement, said he and the entire minority caucus in the Senate were appalled by the very nauseating attack on Ekweremadu.
Senator Ekweremadu, he said, had given his all in standing for the Igbo race, particularly when “we stuck out our neck to arrange and stand for surety for the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu”.
He continued: “Obviously, this is not how to repay a man, an outstanding leader of men, an unpretentious Igbo leader who has given his all, even going as far as deploying his means to arrange for the bail of Nnamdi Kanu, not minding the repercussions to his illustrious political career.
“It is unfortunate. The perpetrators of the attack should know that as Igbos, we respect elders and reverence our leaders. The unwarranted attack is not in the character of the Igbo.
“This is un-Igbo. It is most worrisome and even inconceivable that the attackers will choose an auspicious occasion where our people are celebrating and showcasing our rich culture to exhibit such unbecoming and condemnable conduct in the name of agitation.”
Reacting to the incident, Ohanaeze Ndigbo said the attack was disappointing, grotesque, and dangerous for Igbo solidarity.
President-General of Ohanaeze, John Nnia Nwodo, expressed this on Sunday.
Nwodo said the violent, rude, impertinent, divisive, and discourteous style of IPOB or IPOB-instigated miscreants was damaging to the Igbo cause.
Nwodo said: “It strengthens the case of those who describe them as terrorists and weaken our case against the infringement of our fundamental human rights.
“Ekweremadu negotiated the sureties and securities for Nnamdi Kanu’s release on bail. He does not deserve this picketing and disgrace. A disgrace to him is a disgrace to the Igbo race.”
The Ohanaeze boss called on the law enforcement agencies in Germany to bring to book the perpetrators of the act.
Similarly, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege, condemned the attack.
The PDP, in a statement by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, insisted that the attack on Senator Ekweremadu was uncalled for, unprovoked and could not be justified under any guise.
The party added that such assault on a leader was completely unacceptable and did not portray the nation in proper light.
The PDP, therefore, charged the Nigerian Ambassador to Germany as well as the German government to take appropriate decisive action on the matter.
Senator Omo-Agege, on his part, said the attack was not only a dastardly exportation of irrationality, but an aggressive international affront against the image of the Igbo and Nigeria.
The Deputy President of the Senate, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yomi Odunuga, expressed shock over the undeserved assault and called on law enforcement agencies in Germany to investigate and bring to book all those involved in the vicious attack.
He said: “What they did is not only a violent assault on the good image of the Igbo race across the world but also an aggressive attack on the traditional norms of a people known to be hardworking and respectful of meaningful contributions by leaders such as Senator Ekweremadu.
“Such disappointing physical abuse also grossly disregards Senator Ekweremadu’s democratic antecedents and his long-standing commitment to the cause of his people. But, as he has said out of the usual largeness of his forgiving heart, these people know not what they do.”
The National Vice Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), South East zone, Chief Austin Umahi, also condemned the attack.
In a press statement from his Media Office, Chief Umahi, frowned at the action of the group against Ekweremadu who, he said, had been on the forefront of the struggle against the marginalisation of Ndigbo in the Nigerian federation.