Northern Governors Condemn Onitsha Attack, Move To Avert Spread

Onitsha Governors of Nigeria’s 19 northern states on Thursday said that they have taken security measures to ensure that Wednesday’s violence that included burning of places of worship in the commercial city of Onitsha in Anambra State does not spread to the northern part of the country.

Speaking on behalf of the 19 governors, Borno State Governor and Chairman of the Northern States Governors’ Forum, Kashim Shettima, said that the governors, particularly those of major cities were in touch with one another on Wednesday and had taken some firm measures aimed at averting any spill-over.

A three-week-long pro-Biafra protest turned bloody on Wednesday resulting in the killing of scores with many injured in Onitsha, the commercial city of Anambra State.

The protesters were pressing for the release of detained Director of Radio Biafra, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu.

In a statement issued by his spokesman, Malam Isa Gusau on Thursday in Maiduguri, Shettima said that the governors took the undisclosed measures, following media reports claiming that worship places were torched during the Wednesday violence in Onitsha.

The statement reads: “We condemn the Wednesday crisis in very strong term. We have been in touch with one another today. The Governors of major cities in the north in particular, have been in critical touch to share thoughts and we have collectively taken firm measures to ensure that the violence doesn’t spread to any part of the 19 northern States and we will also be working with our colleagues in the south to nip the crisis in the bud but we will not disclose the measures we have taken so that those who may want to take advantage of the Onitsha mayhem don’t know our strategies.

“However, it is surprising to the Northern States Governors Forum that any Nigerian at all can even contemplate any kind of violence when we already have serious problems of Boko Haram insurgents that are killing Muslims and Christians, killing northerners and southerners, attacking Mosques, Churches and markets, in an effort to kill all of us that do not subscribe to their interpretation of Islam.

“We have Boko Haram that kill Hausa, Fulani, Ibo, Yoruba, Kanuri, Ijaw and anyone they are able to come across. We thought that the existence of Boko Haram should have been enough to make all Nigerians fuse into one and fight a common enemy.

“It is really sad that any Nigerian can contemplate violence. We are not blaming any individual or group because there are security agencies whose job it is to safeguard lives and property and do investigations where necessary, we will not go into their duties.

“We beg all Nigerians to be calm and go about their duties in peace. We have got more than enough problems to worry about. We can’t afford any distraction that will shift our focus from the bigger problems of Boko Haram that has an ambition of sending the human race into extinction.

“We urge all Nigerians to be calm. We particularly call on all Nigerians living in the northern states not to pay attention to differences in religion and ethnicity but rather, should see each other as Nigerians with equal residential rights and fundamental human rights that include freedom to lawfully reside anywhere in Nigeria, freedom of worship, movement, trade, association, education, healthcare and other rights as provided by the Nigerian constitution.

“We particularly call on our youths not to allow anyone use them for any purpose because youths have suffered more than any other age category from the hands of Boko Haram insurgents and that is more than enough.

“Our focus should be on how to end the Boko Haram insurgency and not to be driven into any other crisis. We have suffered too much, we must say no to any crisis.

“As heads of Government of the 19 northern states, we will by the grace of God, do everything humanly possible to ensure that no resident, regardless of his or her ethno-religious background, is denied any of these rights.

“As Nigerians, we are one, we need one another and we must live as one people,” Shettima said, on behalf of the Northern Governors.

Lockdown In Onitsha As Pro-Biafra Protesters Make Demands

Biafra-protestersSome pro-Biafra protesters, seeking the actualisation of Biafra nation, have blocked the Onitsha-Owerri expressway in eastern Nigeria, truncating business activities in one of the nation’s major commercial cities, Onitsha.

According to an eyewitness, the protesters, who were agitating for the release of their leader, Nnamdi Kanu, have shown no sign of ending the siege which had lasted for more than six hours, leaving commuters and motorists stranded.

Mr Kanu is standing trial on a three-count charge of criminal conspiracy, intimidation belonging to an unlawful society which he has pleaded not guilty to.

His trial on Tuesday was stalled due to the absence of the judge.

We Are Not Happy

Though soldiers are reported to be at the scene of the protest, they have allegedly made no attempt to disperse the crowd, saying that their presence is merely to ensure the protest does not degenerate to violence.

One of the protesters told Channels Television that they would not leave the road.

“As you can see, people are gathered.

“We are not happy and we are determined to stay here for more than three days until they release our director, Nnamdi Kanu, the person the DSS is holding hostage.

“They have to release him, if they don’t, we will not leave this place,” the protester said.

While they protest, commuters lament the man-hour wasted, as some said they had been in a particular spot for more than six hours.

Security agencies had issued warnings to the protesters, urging them to end the protest or face the full wrath of the law.

Despite these warnings the group has continued to hold protests in different cities in the South-east and south-south.

Exercising Their Freedom

The Police Commissioner in Anambra State, Hosea Karma, said that the police had been on ground to ensure that the protesters do not violate the law.

He told Channels Television in a telephone interview that the Indigenous People of Biafra came out in their numbers all over from other south-eastern states.

About 4,000 protesters gathered demanding for the Biafra nation and the release of Mr Kanu.

“We have tried to appeal to them.

“As much as they say they are exercising their freedom of association, movement and speech, they should realise that where their freedom stops is where the freedom of other law abiding citizens of the state starts.

“They should realise that they have no right to block the express way.

“They have actually not blocked the express-way. But the problem is that they are there in about four to five thousand in number.

“What the security agencies have done since morning is to try and control them in a manner that they don’t block the road.

“But because of their large number, members of the public were apprehensive and many of them abandoned their vehicles on the highway jam-packing the highway.

“Because owners of the vehicle have abandoned their vehicle on the highway, what we are trying to do now is to try and tow the vehicle off the road so that the road users will continue to use the road,” Mr Karma, said.