Worried by the rising incidences of arsons and killings in the South East, federal lawmakers from the geo-political zone across the two chambers of the National Assembly, condemned the ugly trend. TAIYE ODEWALE reports.
Arsons and killings
For several weeks now, incidences of arsons and mindless killings of operatives of different federal government agencies or establishments like the Nigeria Police Force, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Correctional Centres and Nigeria Immigration Service ( NIS), have become reccurring decimal in the entire five states in the South East and some states in the South-South.
The latest of the actions of such arsonists and killers were the ones carried out in Imo and Abia states on Sunday with the burning of a newly built INEC office and attack on a Divisional Police Office where two Inspectors were gunned down.
As frequent and worrisome as the incidences are, no group has come out to claim to be behind the arsons and killings for whatever reasons, which made Nigerians and in particular, government and state actors to classify them as unknown gunmen.
Condemnations of the acts
Expectedly, a lot of law abiding citizens from in and outside the troubled zones, have come out to condemn the dastardly acts through press statements, newspapers, radio or television interviews but the most potent of such condemnations, was the one made by the entire federal lawmakers from the South East at both chambers of the National Assembly on Sunday through a joint statement.
The lawmakers under the aegis of National Assembly South East caucus, in the statement signed by a serving Senator and member of House of Representatives from each of the five states in the zone, condemned the arsons and killings in their entirety.
Perpetrators of the attacks and killings according to the federal lawmakers who cut across party lines, are not in anyway, fighting the cause of the Igbos who are not known for such dastardly acts.
The statement reads: “We, the South-East caucus of the NASS, as leaders and major stakeholders in the region, have observed with surprise the sudden spike in violence in the region hitherto known for its calm, love and peaceful disposition to visitors irrespective of tribe and religion.
“We have had cause always to deploy the instrumentalities of the institution of state to alert the government of Nigeria about some of the vexed issues of injustice, inequity and obvious marginalisation of the South East in governance structure. Nonetheless, we have not lost hope that the authorities will eventually do the right thing for the continued peaceful co-existence of all people in a united Nigeria.
“However, we are worried over recent developments in the South East, which has thrown the zone into violence and confusion.
“Igbos are not known to kill or waste lives. Igbos are not known for this unfortunate violent disposition, no matter the provocation.
“We note the increasing agitation for restructuring of Nigeria and increasing separatist agitations across the country due to perceived and real issues of marginalisation. On these issues, we, the leaders across board, have consistently cautioned that such agitations must be strictly in accordance with the laws of Nigeria and must be peaceful and devoid of violence.
“The South East caucus of NASS commiserates with all who have lost loved ones, friends and colleagues in these unfortunate incidents and trust that our great country is resilient enough to weather and survive the current challenges confronting it.
“We, therefore, condemn in it’s totality the attack on the security personnel and their formations, particularly on the police, INEC, courts and correctional facilities. It is unacceptable and must never for whatever reason be condoned.
“We urge the Inspector General of Police to dig deep in his investigations to unravel the actual identities of these unknown gunmen determined to create a state of anarchy in the Southeast.
“The investigation has become necessary in the circumstance because of the magnitude of the attacks. More so as the region had not witnessed such in the past.
“We advise the security agencies to continue to show restraint in the discharge of its mission to restore peace in the South East. Security operatives must remember, at all times, that the majority of Igbos are opposed to any form of violence in furtherance of any cause”.
Those who signed the statement on behalf of the entire 56 federal lawmakers from the zone across party lines, were Senators Ike Ekweremadu (PDP Enugu West) for Enugu state, Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP Abia South) for Abia state, Sam Egwu (PDP Ebonyi North) for Ebonyi state, Frank Ibezim (APC Imo North) for Imo state and Stella Odua (PDP Anambra North) for Anambra state.
Their counterparts in the House of Representatives are Hon Toby Okechukwu ( PDP) for Enugu State, Hon Nkiruka Onyejiocha ( APC ) for Abia state, Hon Lynda Chuba Ikpeazu (PDP) for Anambra state, Hon Jerry Alagboso (PDP) for Imo State and Hon Sylvester Ogbaga (PDP) for Ebonyi state.
Few days before the jointly signed statement by federal lawmakers from South East against the unknown arsonists and gunmen in the zone , Senator Chimaroke Nnamani ( PDP Enugu East), issued a statement abhorring the condemnable acts .
According to him, “the ugly trend is dangerous, anti development and against the known culture, tradition and hospitality of Igbo people, majority of whom he said believe in dialogue as a way of resolving issues or addressing problems no matter how intractable they may be.”
His words: ”This trend is capable of alienating us from the rest of Nigeria. What we require is a society or nation of equal opportunities where no one is segregated upon or discriminated against on account of his ethnic or religious leaning.
“Justice and equity is what we should agitate for not violence. We can only achieve this in an atmosphere of peace and harmony.
“Burning police or INEC facilities cannot be a solution. The world is already a global village. We need each other. Those behind these acts must sheathe their swords and embrace dialogue.
“The 17 southern governors in their last meeting held in Asaba, Delta State recommended a national dialogue to discuss the way out of the myriad of problems confronting the corporate existence of Nigeria and not violence in whatever form .
“This is the way to go.Violence will only lead to anarchy. It is certainly not one of the ways to resolve issues.
”I urge our citizens to listen to the voice of wisdom. We must not wittingly or unwittingly engage in anything that would put us in a disadvantaged position in our quest for economic and political equation in the country”.
With strong voices of condemnations cum wisdom, coming from political leaders in the South East against the yet to be identified arsonists and killers, will they hearken to the voices?
Time will definitely tell.
Disclaimer: The Post South East: Will arsonists, killers hearken to voices of reason? was first Published by Editorial IV on www.blueprint.ng.