John Nwodo, president-general Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the apex Igbo cultural organisation, says the unguarded utterances of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), have worsened the plight of the people of Anambra.
Kanu had threatened that his movement would mobilise people in Anambra to boycott the November 18 governorship election if the federal government refuse to conduct a referendum on Biafra.
Speaking in Awka, capital of Anambra, on Thursday, Nwodo said Kanu’s call was not only provocative and misleading but also unproductive.
He said after Kanu’s threat, the inspector-general of police deployed more officers in the state, “increasing the already existing siege on our people”.
Nwodo, who alleged that policemen have been extorting residents, advised the people to ignore Kanu.
He also warned members of IPOB against arrogating to themselves the supreme leadership of Igbo land.
“Why should Anambra people be denied the opportunity to choose their own leader; nobody, no matter how highly-placed, can dictate to Anambra people when to vote, whether to vote or who to vote for,” Nwodo said.
“Anambra, nay Igbo, are still part and parcel of the federal republic of Nigeria. Yes, we are not happy with our treatment in Nigeria; some of us want Biafra.
“Yes, some of us prefer a restructured federal republic of Nigeria, but the fact remains that we are still part and parcel of the present federal republic of Nigeria, bound by its laws, no matter how repressive or unjust.
“Our approach to the reforms of our laws even if it leads to self-determination or restructuring, must be lawful.
‘‘We must convince other Nigerians of our point of view; we must strive to make others share our convictions.
“Our language must be civil, respectful and lead to consensus building.
‘‘We must resist any attempt to allow division among us, as to which way we must go; it must not become a source of altercations between us.
“As we speak, very many of our people living in the north are in complete awe and consternation regarding how safe they will be after October 1.
“Other northerners living among us are also worried.
“The inspector-general of police has taken public notice of Nnamdi Kanu’s comments, inviting a possible invasion of Anambra by the Nigerian police, thereby increasing the already existing siege on our people, which leads to daily extortion on our highways.
“All these developments have arisen out of unguarded utterances.
“I find no venue more suited for the statements I make here; every constituent part of Anambra is represented here and I believe that the honourable members here are competent enough to carry the Ohaneze message to every nook and cranny of Anambra state.”