The Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike has stated that under no circumstances would he take any official action as Governor aimed at hurting Igbos, let alone order their killing.
The Governor made this known last night at a meeting between the Governors of the South East, leaders of the Ohaneze Ndigbo and a delegation of the Rivers State Government held at the Banquet Hall, Government House Port Harcourt.
In a press release made available by Barrister Onyebuchi Ememanka, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu who was present at the meeting at the government house in Port Harcourt, Governor Wike made it clear that he never gave orders to the army to kill Igbos.
Governor Wike who addressed the gathering which also had in attendance, hundreds of members of the Igbo Community in Rivers State, stated that he cannot ignore the strong cultural and historical ties between the people of Rivers State and the Igbos.
“People should ask themselves why I should isolate Igbos living in Oyigbo to kill them, and leave the other Igbos in other parts of the State”. The Governor added.
“Since when did I start giving orders to the Army to kill people? Since when did the Army start taking orders from me”?
Narrating what led to the crisis in Oyigbo, the Governor stated that some criminals decided to use the ENDSARS protest as an opportunity to create confusion in Oyigbo.
According to the Governor, “while the peaceful EndSars protest was on in the state, a group of people went on a rampage in Oyigbo, killing six soldiers and taking away their weapons. They burnt their bodies They also killed four policemen, including an Igbo policeman and severed their heads from their bodies. They set fire on police stations and courts. What was I supposed to do as a Governor? ”
“As Governor, I made it clear that I will not tolerate the activities of an illegal group in Rivers State. I imposed a curfew on Oyigbo and ordered the arrest of the leaders of the group. If not for the curfew which ensured that people stayed indoors, many lives would have been lost”.
Governor Wike stated that at no time did he order soldiers to kill anyone in Oyigbo.
“Everyone knows that when soldiers are killed in any area, there are reprisals. This is what happened. The Army and the Police came back to look for those who killed their men. They did this without any orders from me”.
“Everyone in this country knows my relationship with the Federal Government. They don’t like me and I don’t like them. How then will I now order soldiers who report to their Commander in Chief to go and kill Igbos?”
Governor Wike thanked the South-East Governors and Leaders for the visit and made it clear that no part of this country can survive economically without the Igbos, describing them as nation builders.
He assured the Igbo leaders that there was nothing to fear from his administration.
According to him, an Igbo man has been a member of the State Executive Council since 2015, underscoring the pride of place Igbos occupy in the State.
He appealed to Igbo living in Rivers to go about their duties without fear but must obey the laws of the land and respect constituted authorities in the State.
Governor Wike said that he believed strongly that those who use radio to spread messages of hate and violence do not speak for the Igbos and restated his position that such groups have no place in Rivers State.
The Governor of Ebonyi State and Chairman of the south-East Governors Forum, Governor David Umahi said that the meeting was at the instance of the South-East Governors and Leaders in response to reports emanating from the Social Media about targeted killings against Igbo people in Obigbo. He stated that they did not receive any formal complaint from anyone but as Leaders chose not to keep silent in the face of such disturbing information about our people.
He charged Igbos living outside the region to avoid any acts that will question the authority of their hosts and live peacefully.
According to the Governor, any crises in any part of the country will affect our people the most because 11 million Igbos are living in other parts of the country with substantial investments in real estate. The Governor stated it clearly that any person who wants to push the Igbos into another war does not mean well for our people and is ignorant of the severe consequences it will have for us.
He thanked the Rivers State Governor for acceding to their request for the meeting.
Speaking, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State advised our people to always confirm the authenticity of the information they get from the social media before acting on it because the platform has become a market place for dangerous rumours.
the President-General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo made it clear that Igbos have nothing to fear in a place like Rivers State. He warned our people to desist from buying into any violent separatist logic. According to him, as someone who witnessed the war first hand, it will be suicidal for our people to fight another war. He appealed to Governor Wike to look for ways of extending assistance to our people who lost their loved ones, businesses and property during the crisis in Oyigbo, just as he did for the families of the slain soldiers and policemen.
Others speakers included the Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Leader of the Ohaneze Ndigbo Elders Council, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, representative of the Governor of Enugu State, an Igbo woman leader, Chief Mrs Josephine Anenih, etc.
Across-section of Igbos living in Rivers State who spoke at the event assured the Igbo Governors and Leaders that they do not have any issues with the Rivers State Government and that their lives and businesses are safe. They stated further that they do not support anyone or group whose plan is to create confusion in Rivers State or Igboland in general.
Former Governor of Rivers State, Sir Dr Peter Odili gave the closing remarks.
Culled from Sir Onyebuchi Ememanka