Chris Steven, Abuja
Students of Igbo extraction under the banner of Ohanaeze Students Forum, OSF which is the apex decision making body of all Igbo socio-cultural students grouping in Nigeria have reinstated thier commitment to a united Nigeria, affirming that the country is indivisible.
Rising from a Joint Executive and Senate Session of the body held in Awka, Anambra state the students also passed a vote of confidence on the Nigerian Army Board of Inquiry set up to investigate alleged cases of human rights abuses between personnel and the civil populace across the country.
According to a communique released at the end of the session, and signed by Henry Chukwuemeka Olisa Chairman, communique drafting committee; Udeh Chijioke, Committee Secretary; and Jane Onwubuya, committee member, the Congress considered the various crisis created by recent the activities of misguided elements who turned the South-East into a war zone in pursuit of their selfish interest that has no basis with the wellbeing of the Igbo people.
The students’ body lamented that some of these have left people of the region as aggressors and antagonists of the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The joint session wish to unequivocally disown the activities of our brothers that have constituted themselves into separatists in the South-East in order to create this ill feeling between between us and other people that make up the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The decision to disown them stems from observation that those championing this separatist agenda are not involved in productive enterprise – they have not invested themselves in education, learning useful trade or seeking productive employment but are rather using the so called struggle to extort political office holders that usually call them for negotiations.
The session further resolved that these characters should be treated as rogues and their demands discountenanced as persons that do not mean well for the country or for the Igbo nation, the communique stated.
The students also resolved to send a permanent delegation to observe the sitting of the Army Special Board of Inquiry for the purpose of getting first hand information as events unfolds.
The students agreed that a delegation of 5,000 students to be drawn from the 5 South Eastern states to hold a solidarity march to the Presidential villa and the UN House in Abuja to deliver their undiluted binding position and to serve as ambassadors of one United Nigeria across the various institutions and campuses across the South-East in order to put a final end to “the needless noise of a Biafra Republic that exists only in the imagination of jobless people in the south-east and their partners in crime.”
That we totally welcome the decision of the Nigerian Army to set up a Special Board of Inquiry that will investigate the allegations of human rights abuse against its own personnel and persons or groups that have committed various atrocities against the Nigerian State. It is the best decision by the Army hierarchy to apply the best strategy to ensuring the restoration of the cordial relationship that used to exist between its authorities and the political leadership of the south east, collaboration with the traditional institution and the civil population in the discharge of their duties.
The communique reads further, “that the session wishes to pass a vote of confidence on the Army Special Board of Inquiry while endorsing its mandate to investigate allegations of human rights abuses against troops by some people of our ethnic extraction. This vote of confidence shall be communicated in writing through through official letters to the board of inquiry, the media and mass actions geared towards proving to Mr. President, the entire nation and her international partners in our avowed believe not only in the Unity of Nigeria but also towards ensuring that the guiding principle of the current administration’s committed to fairness and justice as displayed by the Nigerian Army and its leadership is fully upheld to the fullest for the benefit of all citizenry.
“That we therefore condemn in the strongest terms possible any attempt to prematurely derail the work of the committee and demand that everyone must resist making prejudicial comments or utterances as far as the board of inquiry is concerned. The session wishes to urge those with cogent facts, evidence and records of abuses to approach the board of inquiry with same while adopting any format prescribed by the board. This is in the belief that it is a unique opportunity at finding closure to what has been happening in the south-east since only the truth can genuinely set the people free.
“That the session frowned at those that are discouraging others from having trust in the board of inquiry even as it strongly condemn their unjustified fear of a board that is meant to bring the Nigerian Army into greater conformity with global standards in the rules of engagement. It noted that the fear of the exposure of shortcomings on the part of those engaged separatist activities is not enough ground to cast aspersions on the credibility of the board; the fact that some people are already conflicted by their guilt even before the board began sitting is not enough to negate its eventual outcome.
“That the session thank the Nigerian Army for its support to the police and other law enforcement agencies throughout the region in keeping to terms with the cardinal focus of the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration to curb insecurity to the barest minimal level particularly in the north east and south east of Nigeria. It noted that students who used to be kidnapped at will for ransom on the false assumption that their parents are wealthy are now able to go about their lives freely since the Operation Python Dance that the Army conducted some months ago.
“That we enjoin President Buhari not to succumb to the campaign of calumny by a few disgruntled elements in the south-east as recent activities in the region have shown that the President’s support base in the Igbo speaking states now rivals what he has in Katsina state or any other part of the country. His integrity and frank posture are the attributes of the immortal Zik of Africa as a man that shall remain committed to the ideals of a United Nigeria even in his death and to work assiduously towards making Nigeria the true giant of Africa with the south-east region contributing its own quota. We therefore unequivocally call on all Ohaneze students to dutifully align themselves with Mr President’s principles, which will help to promote unity and oneness of Nigeria.