Our Reporter, Enugu
The Apex Igbo Socio-cultural Organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the South-East Women Network (SEWNET) have urged people of the zone to ignore sit-at-home order meant to boycott the forthcoming general election.
The groups made the call when the SEWNET paid a courtesy visit to Dr Alex Ogbonnia, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, National Publicity Secretary, at Ohanaeze Secretariat in Enugu.
They said they were worried by the proposed sit-at-home order by one Simon Ekpa, the self-proclaimed disciple of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, who lives in Finland and discouraging people from voting on election days.
They noted that elections must hold in the zone as scheduled by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Speaking on behalf of SEWNET, Dr Betty Agujiobi, said the action of Ekpa to impose curfew on the region during February and March elections was uncalled for.
According to her, the curfew will mean that no vehicle will ply in any of the highways within the South-East and no election will hold.
“In other words, we will be denied voting right for no reason and I don’t see how somebody who is not residing in Enugu or Nigeria will sit at his comfort and give such illegal order,” she said.
She noted that Ekpa had been enslaving and holding people of the region to ransom, urging the Ohanaeze to do everything possible to ensure that people exercised their civic responsibilities.
Agujiobi said the attitude exhibited by Ekpa put the lives of the people of the South-East in danger and perpetual fear.
“In the last order, a pregnant woman and young man were killed in Enugu and given such order during election will put fear in people.
“As women, we want to know what the Ohanaeze, governors and other political stakeholders in the zone are doing to salvage the situation.
“Are they not touched by the humiliation the young man is causing the people of the South-East; one day, monkey will give order that people will not wear cloth in the region and they will obey.
She stressed that if Igbos did not participate in the general election, it would still hold and someone would emerge winner to their own disadvantage.
While calling the people to disregard the sit-at-home order, Agujiobi said, “Is there no way Ekpa can be contacted so that South-East women can plead with him to leave us alone?”
She regretted that Monday’s sit at home was more serious in Enugu while it was not working in other South-East states, and urged the state government to do something about it.
A member of the group, Mrs Onyinye Mamah and President, Women Support Women, said they were joining Ohanaeze in finding lasting solution to the happenings in the region.
Mamah said Ekpa was just being insensitive to the plight of the people, saying: “How can Ekpa be punishing his own brothers and sisters and reducing their numbers yet he claims to be fighting for them.”
She added that Igbos were committed to voting for any candidate of their choice during the forthcoming elections while Ohanaeze should help to fight the illegal order.
Responding, Ogbonnia said a lot of people in lgboland was worried by Simon Ekpa’s nefarious activities, hinting that the group had cautioned and warned him to desist from the act.
He said, “Ohaneze is a persuasive organisation and not a coercive one and cannot enforce any directive. Rather, we seek support of governments to intervene in happenings in the South-East.
Ogbonnia said election must hold in Igboland noting that similar threats were issued in Anambra during the second tenure of Gov. Willie Obiano and during Gov. Chukwuma Soludo but Ohanaeze intervened and it was finally held.
He described Ekpa as a “trickster” who was using the situation to enrich himself and wreak havoc on innocent people, urging the South-East to ignore his youthful exuberance.
Ogbonnia explained that Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide would within the week decide on what to do to Ekpa and how to manage the problems he created.
He thanked the women for being the first group to visit the Ohanaeze Secretariat to express their concerns on the situation in the zone.