By Chimezie Godfrey
The Chairman of the Igbo Elders’ Council, Dr. Chukwemeka Ezeife, has asked the Federal Government to demilitarize the South East, as well as take other administrative and non-kinetic measures to restore peace in the zone.
The Elders’ Council who made their position known on Tuesday during a press briefing in Abuja, also demanded the immediate release of over 5000 Igbo Youths arrested by the security agencies.
Dr. Ezeife decried the increasing militarization of the south east has built up tension and security challenges in the zone, thus threatening the hitch-free conduct of the Anambra general election.
According to him, the insecurity in the South-East has taken a frightening dimension and remained a terrible and worrisome puzzle that must be tackled for the Independent national electrical Commission, INEC to conduct a free, fair, and credible election in the state.
Ezeife who expressed dismayed over the dehumanizing condition of the 5000 arrested Igbo youth in the name of unknown gunman, IPOB, ESN, said that a political solution through the instrumentality of dialogue with all relevant stakeholders was key to the present security imbroglio in the zone.
He said,”It’s our firm believe that a secured and peaceful environment is indispensible for the conduct of free, fair credible election in any Democratic state, including Anambra state.
“The citizens in the zone no longer sleep with their two eyes closed, as sporadic gunshots now ravage the Igbo heartland without any body accepting responsibility for this urgly development.
“Moment from one city to the other has become a nightmare with several police and military checkpoints littered all over the place”.
Dr. Ezeife urged the government to do everything possible to peace in the South-East zone, adding that they believed that the Federal Government is central to the restoration of normalcy and peace in the zone.
He stressed that other stakeholders, including the state government, local government councils, traditional rulers and community leaders, women and Youth leaders must rise up to the occasion of ensuring security of lives and property in Igbo land.
“The November 6, 2021 Anambra state election is very important to us, but we know that a free and fair credible election is an essential ingredient of democracy, and may remain a pipe dream in a tensed and security challenged environment.
“Is a collective responsibility of every lover of democracy and the rule of law to support the conduct of a credible and generally acceptable election in Anambra state.
“We, therefore appeal to the leaders of the various political parties and their governorship candidates to play according to the rule, shun violence, arson, killing of political opponents and other anti democratic activities that are inimical to smooth conduct of election”.
“We also appeal to our Youth including members of the indeginouse people of Biafra, IPOB, Movement for the actualization of the Sovereign state of Biafra MASSO, and other similar groups. Irrespective of their grievance and agitation, to give peace a chance for the smooth conduct of the Anambra state election”. He said.
The Chairman said that, they are still worried by the unprecedented senseless killings and bloodletting in various parts of the south East especially in Imo and Ebonyi states by yet to be unmasked unknown gunman.
He said, the unprovoked military invasion of Izombe community in Oguta Local Government of Imo state, where over 70 houses where said to have been destroyed by the enraged soldiers, as well as similar others in various parts of the state have aggrevated the insecurity situation in the south East.
He encouraged the good people of Anambra not to be deterred by the current insecurity, disturbances, and threats inherent in the state, they should rather come out enmasse to exercise their franchise come Saturday Guber election.
According to him, the implication of not voting is grievous and will give room for manipulation of the electoral process which will eventually produce a Governor that is against the will of the people.
“We appeal to our people to exercise restraints in order not to aggrevate the already tensed situation in Igbo land”
“The Igbo Elders Consultative Forum shares some of your grievance and agitations, but believes that dialogue and non-kinetic measures by all stakeholders will facilitate peace process in Igbo land. It is not in our interest to turn Igboland into a battle ground. Hence we appeal for your understanding and cooperation for a lasting peace in our land.
“We urge you people of Anambra state to, please go out enmasse and vote, as not to vote will be counterproductive and, ultimately, a disservice to the state and great people of Anambra state,” he said.