IPOB: Chidoka slams South-East Govs, Rejects Army’s Terrorism Tag on Group
Frontline contender and candidate of the United Progressive Party (UPP) in the November 18, 2017 Anambra governorship election, Chief Osita Chidoka has slammed the governors of the south East states for what he termed failure of leadership in their handling of issues relating to the agitation by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, in the region.
Chidoka, who spoke while fielding questions during a national radio interview monitored on Monday also rejected the military’s declaration of IPOB as a terrorist group, saying the military was not in the position to do so without passing through laid down legal and constitutional provisions. Chief àà Chidoka carpeted the governors for going beyond their constitutional and legal limits to announce a proscription of IPOB, which, according to him, remains a futility under the law. He said the governors failed in their mandate to adequately aggregate the views and interests of the people of the region to other parts of the country, a situation which created a vacuum leading to the escalation of agitations, and should have used the opportunity of the face-off to revert to the people and provide the much needed political leadership in the region.
According to Chidoka, “From a leadership perspective, it would be good on the part of the governors to do something to stem what was going on with the military, but in terms of the proscription of IPOB, the governors went beyond their mandate; they went beyond their legal capacity. “All they needed to have done, if they were listening to the wishes and aspiration of the people of the South-East, was that, instead of calling for a meeting with Nnamdi Kanu, they should have conducted an opinion poll to find out what the issues were. He said the question should have been, ‘What do you want us to tell the government that you feel Nnamdi Kanu is saying that we are not saying?’ “Then they should be able to seek audience with the President or the vice President and say ‘these are the issues’.” “I believe that the failure of leadership on the part of the governors of the South-East became glaring to the whole country and their effort at announcing a proscription was beyond their legal limits. They should have used it as a basis to aggregate the views and channel them appropriately”, he said.
Chidoka lamented that the military action occurred at the time the people of the southeast were already reviewing the modus of the agitation to ensure that it was not in negation of other ethnic groups in the country. Faulting the military, Chidoka said it was not in a position to declare IPOB a terrorist organization, without following certain established legal actions. “To declare an organization a terrorist organization requires certain legal action to be taken. Those legal actions were not taken. The military is not in the position to declare an organization a terrorist organization. So I think, fundamentally, the declaration was an act in futility. “First and foremost, I think that government should follow the due process of the law to criminalize the activity of any group including IPOB if it violates the law of the country of Nigeria. “Once they do that, then they will go to the next stage of getting the police to enforce that law. If in enforcing the law, the organization turns into an insurrection, then you can go back to the military. Anything short of that is unconstitutional and an action in futility”, he said.
Chidoka further called for auditing of the activities of the military saying such would help de-escalate the tension in the region. “Now that this military action has happened, it is critical that we audit what happened. It is important that the claims of death and killings and no death and no killings need to be audited. “That auditing mechanism that we have in the National Assembly, that ability to go back and look at what has transpired is important for us to deescalate the tension in the land.”
Chidoka, insisted that rule of law and dialogue, rather than force and subjugation of voices hold the answers to the agitations not only in the south east but among other groups in the country.