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Monarchs, Clerics To IPOB: Don’t Disrupt Election

Monarchs and religious leaders in the Southeast yesterday urged the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOP) not to disrupt the November 6 governorship election in Anambra State.

They also urged the Federal Government to de-proscribe the organisation and free its leader, Nnamdi Kanu.

“We urge IPOB not to do anything that would hinder or be seen to be hindering the smooth running of the forthcoming governorship election in Anambra State and to cancel all scheduled sit-at-home, as these have already caused untold hardship for our people.

“We call on all the candidates in the forthcoming Anambra State governorship election to eschew violence and commit to free, fair and credible election,” they said.

In a statement by the Southeast Council of Traditional Rulers and Representatives of Igbo Archbishops and Bishops, the Igbo leaders decried the high level of insecurity and socio-economic disruption in the region.

According to them, the worsening insecurity has deepened the hardship and rendered prostrate the socio-political and economic lives of the people.

Signatories to the statement include Igwe Charles Mkpuma, Eze Joseph N. Nwabeke, Obi Nnaemeka Achebe of Onitsha, Igwe Ambassador L. O. C. Agubu, Eze Dr. E. C. Okeke, Most Rev. Dr. Anthony J. V. Obinna (Catholic Archbishop of Owerri), Most Rev. Dr. Emmanuel O. Chukwuma (Anglican Archbishop of Enugu), Most Rev. Dr. Chibuzo R. Opoko (Methodist Archbishop of Umuahia) and Most Rev. Dr. Valerian M. Okeke (Catholic Archbishop of Onitsha).

Others are: Most Rev. Dr. Uma A. Onwunta (Past Principal Clerk, Presbyterian Church Nigeria), Bishop Obi Onubogu (Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria), and Rev. Dr. Abraham Nwali (Chairman, Southeast Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN).

The Igbo leaders advised government and stakeholders to explore dialogue and negotiation in resolving critical issues threatening national unity, cohesion and development.

They added: “Accordingly, we refer to our earlier request for the release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu to the South East Council of Traditional Rulers and the Representatives of Igbo Archbishops and Bishops and restate this call even more strongly.

“We are of the firm belief that this act of courage and statesmanship is not only imperative, but will speedily de-escalate the heightened state of insecurity and dislocation in the South East Zone.”

They also urged President Muhammadu Buhari to de-proscribe IPOB and release all IPOB members being held in various detention facilities across the country.

The Igbo leaders urged the Federal Government to demilitarise the Southeast, saying the military siege to the region could only lead to heightened tension, skirmishes and endless bloodletting between the security agencies and the youth.

The statement added: “We assert that heightened inequality and marginalisation remain at the core of youth restiveness in our region. We urge our apex national leadership to note that until it takes deliberate steps to run government on the basis of fairness, equity, justice and non-discrimination, this restiveness is likely to continue.

“We shall respectfully seek audience with Mr. President to discuss these issues in exploring political solution and the release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.

“On our part, we assure our youths that we have heard their cries of marginalisation, injustice and longsuffering. As concerned parents, we feel your pain.

“However, we urge you to de-escalate the tension and remain law-abiding to enable us to engage, especially the Federal Government, in finding a lasting solution to the crises.”

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