SOUTH-EAST: Monarchs, religious leaders blame presidency, govs for rising insecurity

SOUTH-EAST traditional rulers and religious leaders have blamed the Presidency and governors of the five South-East states for the escalating wave of insecurity in the zone.

According to them, the presidency and the governors have shied away from having a dialogue with the traditional and religious leaders on the issue in the last three months.

Dissecting the Presidency’s handling of insecurity in the zone, the leaders in a joint statement on the banner of South-East Council of Traditional Rulers and Representatives of Igbo Archbishops and Bishops, urged the President and governors “to grant audience as requested so that all hands can be on deck towards restoring peace and security in the region while improving the welfare of its citizenry.”

The statement was signed by HM Igwe Charles Mkpuma Chairman, Ebonyi State Traditional. Rulers Council & Chairman, South-East Council of Traditional Rulers; Most Rev. Dr. Anthony J. V. Obinna Emeritus Catholic Archbishop of Owerri; HM Eze Joseph N. Nwabeke Chairman, Abia State Traditional Rulers Council; Most Rev. Dr Emmanuel O. Chukwuma, Anglican Archbishop of Enugu; and HM Eze Joseph N. Nwabeke Chairman, Abia State Traditional. Rulers Council.

Other signatories are Most Rev. Dr Chibuzo R. Opoko, Methodist Archbishop of Umuahia; HM Obi Nnaemeka Achebe, Chairman, Anambra State Traditional Rulers Council; Most Rev. Dr Valerian M. Okeke Catholic Archbishop of Onitsha; HM Igwe Amb L. O. C. Agubuzu, Chairman, Enugu State Traditional Rulers Council; Most Rev. Dr Uma A. Onwunta Past Principal Clerk Presbyterian Church Nigeria; HM Eze Dr E. C. Okeke Chairman, Imo State Traditional Rulers Council; and Bishop Obi Onubogu Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria.

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Lamenting the dangerous turn insecurity has taken in the South-East since late last year in which many traditional rulers had been killed they said they are still “in pursuit of initiatives aimed at restoring the peace, security and robust enterprise for which the South East is known.”

The statement read in part: “Confronted with the escalation of insecurity in the South-East, and concerned that the responses of those in authority were failing to stem the tide of violence, especially in the run-up to the Gubernatorial Elections in Anambra State, the Joint Body of South East Council of Traditional Rulers and Representatives of Igbo Archbishops and Bishops issued a public appeal on Sunday, 30th October 2021, for de-escalation and suspension of the IPOB sit-at-home order.

“We undertook extensive behind-the-scenes consultations with all relevant stakeholders. This appeal was predicated on separate statements made by Representatives of Igbo Archbishops and Bishops, and by the South East Council of Traditional Rulers, on 7th and 18th October 2021, respectively.

“The response to the appeal by political actors in committing to a peaceful election, as well as by IPOB in cancelling its seven-day sit-at-home order, paved the way for the peaceful Governorship election in Anambra State. The Joint Body wishes to thank all stakeholders for the respect accorded to it in this regard.

“In a bid to sustain the momentum gained, on November 3, 2021, the Joint Body wrote a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari requesting an audience. The purpose of the request was to dialogue and explore avenues for peace-building, douse the tension in the South East to ensure it does not result in a grave socio-economic burden on our people.

“The joint Body fears that further delay or inaction on this request may have the unintended consequence of giving credence, albeit erroneously, to the belief by some groups in the region that restoring peace and stability is not the primary goal of the Federal Government. In the same vein, genuine efforts made through the Chairman, South East Governors’ Forum to dialogue with South-East Governors have so far also met a brick wall.

“Taken together, the shuttered silence gives room for suspicion and presents ominous portends if left unattended to. The Joint Body is not unmindful of the widely reported visit of a group led by the Elder Statesman, Pa Mbazulike Amechi. However, the absence of any discernible genuine effort at peacebuilding as well as the silence of the Presidency on our request for constructive engagement would further seem to give credence to the suspicion in some quarters of a clear lack of strong commitment to peacebuilding and resolution of security challenges in the South East.

“It has been three months since the letter was written and delivered to the office of the President. The Presidency has neither acknowledged receipt nor responded to the letter.

“Ït is puzzling that the President and the South-East Governors appear to be ignoring the demonstrated value of dialogue and consensus-building in finding a lasting solution to the region’s security issues. As leaders who are continuously required by our burden of service to interface with the populace, the Joint Body is desirous of confirming the sincerity and commitment of the Federal Government, in particular, to find a lasting solution to the security crisis.

“In anticipation of an audience with the Federal and State Governments, however, the Joint Body has continued fastidiously with its engagement with stakeholders across the dimensions of the conflict and ensuing insecurity, rigorous fact-finding and data gathering exercises, and bridge-building through dialogue and moral suasion.

“The Joint Body urges the President and State Governors to grant audience as requested so that all hands can be on deck towards restoring peace and security in the region while improving the welfare of its citizenry.


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