Southeast insecurity: ACF issues travel advisory
•Forum urges Fed Govt to fish out Gulak’s killers
There was anxiety yesterday as the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) issued a travel advisory to Northerners to shelve travelling to the Southeast, unless it is absolutely compulsory.
The group said the advisory became necessary in view of the recent killings of innocent Nigerians, including Northerners in the Southeast, without provocation.
ACF Chairman Chief Audu Ogbe said the ongoing crisis is reminiscent of the killings of Northern leaders in 1966, which triggered the chain of events that led to the three-year civil war.
Ogbe, former Agriculture minister and chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), urged the Federal Government to arrest the killers of the former presidential adviser, Ahmed Gulak, who was shot dead in Owerri, the Imo State capital, last Sunday.
The outcry over Gulak’s murder has continued as eminent Nigerians who expressed sadness over the violence urged the security agencies to investigate the killings and bring all the perpetrators to book.
Ogbe lamented what he described as the spate of attacks and killings of Northerners resident or visiting the Southeast in recent times.
He said: “The ACF was among those who put pressure, on, and ultimately convinced, the AUFCDN to call off the strke. The ACF did that in the spirit of one Nigeria.
“Yesterday, Sunday 30th May, 2021, one of leaders in the north was brutally murdered on the streets of Owerri Imo state by gunmen, most likely of IPOD and Eastern Security Network (ESN), who have been waging a public campaign of killings and other forms of brutalities, to realise their dream country of Biafra.
“The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) hereby issues a very strong advisory to all northerners who may wish to travel to the South East. Northerners to weigh the importance and necessity of such travels. Unless such trips are absolutely necessary and of compelling nature, like matters of life & death, they should NOT be made.
“And where the trip must be undertaken, the traveller should take every security precaution in his or her movements while there, including linking with the security agencies at the place/places to be visited.
“The need to issue this travel advisory has become necessary against the backdrop of history, wherein events such the killings of northern leaders in 1966 triggered the events that led to a civil war that cost the country thousands of lives, and an untold sufferings to millions of innocent people. To be forewarned is to be forearmed, and a stich in time saves nine!
“The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) also wishes to call, with the strongest voice, on the Security Agencies to do everthing possible to apprehend those who assassinated Alh. (Barr) Ahmed Gulak in cold blood and bring them to justice.
“The lives of northerners, and indeed of ALL Nigerians matter, and the ACF cannot keep mute when our people, and indeed all Nigerians, are murdered in cold blood by misguided and atrocious people.
“Unfortunately in the midst of all this serious national crisis it would appear that the entire narrative from the South East has been taken over by IPOB and so-called unknown gunmen to the exclusion of established leaders. This is worrisome.”
Ohanaeze faults advisory The Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide faulted ACF’s travel advisory.
Ohanaeze spokesman, Chiedozie Ogbonnia, said no region was immune to insecurity.
He said: “It is doubtful if Audi Ogbe, a man who has gained the respect of many as a detribalised Northern patriot, could issue such a sinister statement
“Southeast has been facing a security challenge in the past few weeks, but should it be isolated from the security challenges in other parts of the country?
“Even today, about 200 people were said to have been kidnapped by bandits in Niger State and other states.
“In Benue State in Middlebelt region, dozens are killed on daily basis. In the Middlebelt region, indigenes are being displaced by herdsmen.
“You go to the Northwest, you see people even bargaining with bandits to release their kidnapped relatives. Northeast is not even better.
“There’s hardly any part of the country that is not experiencing one form of security challenge or the other.
“It is, therefore, puzzling that Chief Ogbe will issue such a release particularising the Southeast. It’s unfortunate.
“What pains more is the reference to 1966 which he said the killing of some northerners gave rise to retaliation that led to civil war. For him to refer to that is very unfortunate.
“What he’s saying is that the whole Southeast has given in to the leadership of IPOB (the Indigenous People of Biafra)”.
Uzodimma, Jonathan, Northern governors, Ohanaeze, others flay murder
More condemnations have trailed the killing of Gulak by associates and politicians.
Those who flayed the murder included former President Goodluck Jonathan, Senate President Ahmad Lawan, his deputy, Ovie Omo-Agege; Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State; former Senate President Anyim Pius Anyim and Labour and Employment Minister Chris Ngige
Also, the Northern Governors Forum, the All Progressives Congress (APC), the Ohanaeze Ndigbo and Unified Nigerian Youth Forum (UNYF) condemned the murder.
Uzodimma: Gulak was on national assignment
Uzodimma, who had on Sunday evening explained that Gulak’s name was not listed in a manifest as his guests, explained that the former Presidential aide was in the state on a national assignment ”with the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendment.”
In a statewide broadcast in Owerri, the governor described the killing of the Adamawa State-born APC chieftain as “a political assassination.”
He added that the Police were making progress in their investigations as they had arrested some of the suspected killers.
The Police had in a statement on Sunday night said that they “neutralised” 10 suspects in connection with the incident.
Describing the murder as a personal loss, Uzodimma vowed that other suspects would not go scot-free.
He said: Gulak’s gruesome murder appears to be a clear case of political assassination.
“The death of this compatriot is a personal loss to me. I was shocked to my marrows when the sad news of his callous murder was broken to me.
“Let me make it very clear that everything will be done by security agencies to find those who murdered Gulak and their sponsors.
“It is reassuring that President Muhammadu Buhari has assured the nation that the perpetrators of this heinous crime would be apprehended and punished.
“This (killing) is not in our character as Igbos, not in our tradition nor in our culture. We must condemn this callous act.”
The governor also commiserated with relations and families of victims of kidnapping, armed robberies, banditry, and stray bullets in the state.
Gulak’s death shocking says Jonathan
Former President Jonathan said in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Ikechukwu Eze, that he received news of Gulak’s killing with shock.
He added: “Gulak was a loyal public servant and dedicated patriot who gave his all in service to his country. His death is a painful loss to me and many others who worked and interacted with him.”
Jonathan prayed to God to comfort his family and grant his soul eternal rest.
Northern governors warn against politicisation
The Northern Governors Forum described the assassination as most unfortunate and totally condemnable.
Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, warned against insinuations and politicisation of the killing, saying that they could lead to violence.
He added in a statement by his spokesman, Makut Macham, that a police report on the suspected killers should further be consolidated to enable relevant security agencies to forestall future occurrences.
The forum also expressed disgust over the abduction of “innocent citizens,” including students and teachers of an Islamiya school, in Niger State.
Ohanaeze: His murder sent wrong signal
Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide said Gulak’s killing had sent a wrong signal to the public.
A statement by the spokesman of the apex-Igbo socio-cultural group, Chiedozie Ogbonnia, quoted the President-General, Prof. George Obiozor, as saying that the ex-presidential aide’s murder was one too many.
Obiozor said: “This is a death too many because of the wrong signal, it has sent to the general public.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Igbo custom places a very high premium on the wellbeing and hospitality of a guest; and the host would even pay the supreme prize in order to protect the life of a guest.”
Obiozor expressed concern over the recent developments in the Southeast, a zone which according to him, is noted for peace, tranquility, hard work, and smooth economic activities.
He condoled Uzodimma, the immediate family of Gulak and the good people of Adamawa State over the “calamity.”
APC bashes PDP
The APC expressed shock over the murder and accused the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of excitement over the killings in the country.
The ruling party said: “While the majority of Nigerians sympathises with the victims of crimes in the country, it is discernible that the PDP is apparently excited about the security incidents being perpetrated by evil-doers against the citizens.”
In a statement by the Secretary, Caretaker Extra-Ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), Senator John James Akpanduoehehe, the APC said it ”joins Nigerians to mourn his death and condemn his (Gulak) murderers in the strongest possible terms.”
Lawan, Ovie-Whiskey flay killing
Senate President Lawan said in a statement that there can be no justification for the murder of a fellow citizen.
In the statement by his Special Adviser (Media) Ola Awoniyi, Lawan called for a swift investigation to bring those involved in the crime to justice.
But he appealed for restraint on the part of those calling for revenge, saying they should allow the relevant authorities to investigate the matter.
Deputy Senate President Omo-Agege wondered what the killers of Gulak sought to gain, recalling that the APC chief was a part of the Senate Committee on Constitution Review team as a consultant and lawyer.
“There was no justifiable reason for this act by the evil men behind Gulak’s death. I call on the police and other security agencies to fish out the assailants and their sponsors to face the full wrath of the law,” Omo-Agege said in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yomi Odunuga.
He also called for “restraints on the part of those irked by the “dastardly act”, saying that “reprisal would only exacerbate the already tensed situation.”
Labour and Employment Minister Ngige appealed to political actors and aggrieved youths in the Southeast to immediately halt the escalating violence in the region and embrace dialogue.
He said: “It is not in our character as Ndigbo to shed blood for any reason and for any cause. Peace, consultation, and accommodation are integral to our republicanism as a race.
“Ndigbo cannot afford to be linked to a senseless murder or any other action that can bitterly sour our relationship with our brothers from other parts of Nigeria.”
Group: conflict entrepreneurs stoking war
The Unified Nigerian Youth Forum (UNYF) however, alleged that persons it described ”conflict entrepreneurs” were trying to trigger an ethnic war between Northerners and the people of the Southeast.
The group’s President, Abdulsalam Kazeem, reminded Northerners that the elite of the North have also been killed in the North.