The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo yesterday asked the federal government to order the immediate release of the detained Director of Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, in order to diffuse the ongoing mass protest by pro-Biafra agitators led by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).
In a seven-point communique issued end of its Imeobi meeting held at the headquarters of the organisation in Enugu and signed by its President-General, Chief Gary Igariwey and Secretary-General, Dr Joe Nworgu, Ohanaeze Ndigbo said the release of Kanu would go a long way in arresting the current Biafra agitations from deteriorating.
However, the organisation insisted that the exclusion of Ndigbo in decision making structure of Nigeria constituted a clear and present danger to the unity and well-being of the country not only now but also in the future and as such should be immediately addressed.
While advising that all issues relating to the incarceration of Kanu by treated more as a political than a security matter having become the focal point of the public protests, Ohanaeze also demanded for the immediate creation of a national platform with major objective of addressing the immediate causes that have triggered the present public protests.
The platform when set up would also be saddled with the responsibility of revisiting and addressing latent and long standing issues that have continued to threaten the evolution of Nigeria into a modern and united nation where all constituent parts have equal sense of belonging.
Though notable political leaders including the governors in the zone, National and State Assembly members, ministers and other renowned persons in the zone did not attend the meeting, the Imeobi gathering still witnessed the presence of Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, former Anambra State governor, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Bishop Obi Onubogu and Eze Cletus Illomuanya as well as representatives of IPOB and MASSOB.
The communique which was read by a former Minister of Health, Prof A.B.C. Nwosu noted: “The meeting strongly deprecates any attempt to drag the current grave situation and public expression of Ndigbo over the exclusion from the Nigerian nation into the realm of partisan politics and warns all those who may be so inclined that they shall bear full consequences of their actions.
“We note that Ndigbo are nation builders who are found in all parts of the country and caution that all actions and activities which threaten the security and harmonious co-existence of all Nigerians wherever they may be domiciled is dangerous and must not be encouraged. In particular, the Imeobi believes that current public protests, howbeit peaceful, is disruptive of the market economy of the south-east zone and strongly recommend that they be discontinued immediately in favour of dialogue and constructive engagement in the rewolu5of the underlying issues,” the communique noted.
The organisation further called on the governors of the South-east and South-south states to as a matter of urgency create massive employment opportunities for the youths of the states to ameliorate the restive situation.
“We acknowledge the concern and efforts of many well meaning Ndigbo and other Nigerians to engage themselves constructively in the resolution of issues which detract from our sense of nationhood and sense of common destiny as a unified and diverse nation,” they noted, while insisting that the ongoing dialogues remain a major way of addressing the injustices in the Nigerian polity.
They also expressed appreciation to all those who have continued to call for caution in the handling of issues surrounding the Biafran agitation.
The organisation noted that Ndigbo shall continue to remain committed to the ideals of nation building and harmonious co-existence of all Nigerians, while resisting attempts to reduce Ndigbo to second class citizens in our country “which our fathers and fore-fathers laboured and sacrificed, shoulder to shoulder with other Nigerians to bring into being.”
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army has disclosed how their proactive application of the Rules of Engagement (RoE) and strategic approach to crisis communication, helped to ensure that the Biafran agitation does not snowball into violence with a disastrous outcome.
The Director of the Army Public Relations (DAPR), Col. Sani Usman, made this disclosure at the weekend, during the Inaugural Annual Lecture of Class 1992 Alumni of Mass Communication Department of Bayero University Kano (BUK).
Usman who is also an old student of the Department, delivered a paper on “Crisis Communication for security Consciousness- A Case Study of Nigeria.”
He said that modern day crisis has further repositioned crisis communication as an ongoing process not relegated to the stage of post – crisis communication that plays the dominant role in risk identification where the appropriate communication of risk may spur mitigating behaviours that can reduce the risk.
According to him, “his approach was used by the Nigerian Army in mitigating the risk associated with on-going protest in the eastern part of the country on the Biafra state.
“The rules of engagement of the Nigerian Army was made public through press release for the benefit of the protesters and the general public. I along several other renowned and respected experts also appeared on the AIT’s Kaakaki programme to press home the point in order to discourage potential protesters and further warned the leadership of the agitators of the legal and military consequences of their actions.”
With the advent of the new media and citizen journalism, he said, over 50 million Nigerians are now professional and amateur news reporters as the case maybe.