Some concerned Igbo elders have condemned in very strong terms cases of criminality in Imo State and some other parts of the South East, resulting in the death of innocent citizens, calling on perpetrators to desist from the wicked tendencies, or face the wrath’ of God, and the people.
The elders, who operate under the canopy of Conference of Igbo Elders for Peace and Development (CIEPD), said while collaboration with security agencies on ways to stop killings in Imo State in particular, and the South East in general was ongoing, their attention was drawn to a statement issued by the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) imputing ethnic agenda into the condemnable acts.
Recall that the NEF, through its spokesperson, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, had expressed concerns over what it said was the alleged “profiling” of Northerners in parts of the South.
In a measured response, however, the Igbo elders expressed regrets that their counterparts in the North could descend to such a pedestrian level as to make claims of targeted killing of their kith-and-kin in the South.
While conceding the right to freedom of expression, especially as it concerns the interest of individuals and groups, we hasten to advise people of goodwill to, at all material time, be circumspect and patriotic on sensitive issues such as the subject-matter of the press statement.
In a statement made available in Abuja, Sunday, jointly signed by its National President, Mazi (Dr) Festus Edochie, and National Secretary, Barr (Mrs) Esther Amadi, the CIEPD insisted that, contrary to attempts to foist ethnic agenda on the incidents in Imo State and some parts of South East, the killings are purely acts of criminality that know no ethnicity, tribe, religion or political inclination.
“Without mincing words, we condemn the killings witnessed in Imo State, and some parts of Igbo land, even as we have continued our advocacy and sensitisation against acts of criminality and barbarism, in whatever guise.
“We also condemn attempts by the Northern Elders Forum, through its spokesman, Dr. Hakeem Baba Ahmed, to suggest ethnic profiling, and targeting of Northerners in a case of pure criminality,” the statement read in part.
Continuing, the South East elders warned individuals and groups in the country against actions and tendencies that possess the capacity to exacerbate ethnic tensions, maintaining that Nigeria could not afford another tension at this time of national crises, occasioned by growing insecurity, excruciating poverty, biting hunger, and general economic woes.
“We are, therefore, constrained to urge the NEF to withdraw the distasteful and provocative statement, as we consider same unpatriotic and inflammatory.
“We are concerned that the killing in parts of the South East are given ethnic colouration, while the same development in the North East, and North West, is attributed to terrorists.
*Rather than politicise killings anywhere in the country, let us join hands together to make Nigeria safe and great again, through the promotion of justice, equity, inclusivity, and above all, patriotism.
“For the umpteenth time, we will like to state, that concerned Igbo elders will not allow any group or individual – no matter how highly-placed in society – to give a dog a bad name and hang it, just to serve parochial and chauvinistic tendencies,” the elders added.