Initial doubts about who was being molested in a shocking video clips on social media by some hoodlums were cleared when the former Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu confirmed the veracity of the unfortunate episode. The attack occurred last week in Nuremberg, venue of the second annual cultural festival and convention of Ndi-Igbo, Germany.
The Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) has since owned the attack, accusing Ekweremadu of instigating ‘Operation Python Dance’, a controversial 2017 military operation in the south-east. They have also accused other south-east leaders of masterminding the proscription of IPOB by the federal government and not doing enough to address the challenge of insecurity in the region.
Some of the miscreants who attacked Ekweremadu and their enablers have tried to justify their violent acts by claiming moral superiority on issues concerning the welfare of Igbo people. But such violent behaviour, as was demonstrated at the meeting in Germany, stands condemned. We hope the culprits will be identified and brought to justice. That, according to embassy of Nigeria in Berlin, would help to deter future acts of violence against Nigerian government officials given the threat by IPOB to carry out similar attacks, especially against those that are of Igbo descent.
Ironically, Ekweremadu was one of the Igbo leaders who worked behind the scenes to ensure the release of the errant IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu when he was detained last year before he jumped bail. Besides, while we do not hold brief for south-east politicians, the security concerns used as an excuse by Ekweremadu’s assailants is a national challenge for which the south-east is rated comparatively better than most other regions. For instance, data released by the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu in April this year revealed that out of the a total of 1,071 homicides recorded nationwide in the first quarter of this year, 767 occurred in the north. Out of 685 kidnappings, the north recorded 365 or 79.8 per cent. Of the 212 major armed robberies, 130 or 59.43 per cent occurred in the north, with north-central leading with 81 incidents.
However, beyond whatever may be in the public domain, there appears to be an ideological struggle in the south-east between IPOB mob and the political leaders. Whereas Ekweremadu, the governors and socio-cultural groups like Ohanaeze believe that Ndigbo could find justice through a restructured Nigeria that runs on the principle of true federalism, IPOB on the other hand insists on secession through a referendum. That has led to a dangerous mind-set to label any Igbo politician who does not support secession as a saboteur or sell-out that must be assaulted and destroyed. The uncivilised and violent disposition of IPOB has therefore justified its proscription by the federal government. Such behaviour as displayed against Ekweremadu, especially in a foreign land, was a monumental disservice to whatever the group claims to be fighting for.
By appealing to the mob, what IPOB is doing in the South-east is dangerous. There should be no room for coercion and violence in pursuit of political goals. We join the rest of Nigeria in condemning the attack on Ike Ekweremadu in all ramifications. It is disgusting, nasty, and unjustifiable. It should never have happened. It is good that some arrests have been made. We expect the Nigerian government to liaise with its German authorities to ensure that the culprits and others still at large, including their sponsors, are made to face the wrath of the law. Steps should also be taken to ensure that this kind of sordid incident does not occur again, in or outside the shores of Nigeria.