Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, Tuesday said that he will not dethrone the traditional ruler of Afara Ukwu Ibeku Autonomous Community of the state, His Royal Highness, Eze Isreal Kanu, the father of the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu because of the involvement of his son in the ongoing tension in the state.
There have been calls from some people from Umuahia that the governor should dethrone Kanu’s father following the horrible experience the people had from the military that had invaded all streets in the area to curb the activities of IPOB. Specifically, the Umuahia Youths Movement On Sunday gave governor Ikpeazu a 24-hour ultimatum to dethrone Kanu’s father as paramount ruler of else they would take the laws upon their hands claiming that the royal father was not fit to be king as he was unable to control his son.
But another group, Ibeku Youth Assembly warned against any attempt to remove the traditional ruler from his throne. But Governor Ikpeazu who was at the Presidential Villa to brief President Muhammadu Buhari who was represented by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo on the security situations in his state told State House correspondents that there was a difference between Kanu and his father.
According to him, “I clearly separate Kanu from his father. The processes of handling traditional institutions are enshrined in the laws of our land. “Traditional rulers who are members of our constituency have leadership, they will do the needful at the appropriate time. But for me, I think their is a clear division between Nnamdi Kanu and his father.” Fielding question on what went wrong, he said, “It depends from what point to what point. But if you are referring to what happened in the past one week.
Nigerians know that for some time now this group called IPOB is agitating for a separate nation called Biafra and that the home state of the leader of that group happens to be Abia State. “As expected, when such things happen there is an interface between some members of that group and the military, and the theater was Abia state. “Some people attempted to hijack that event to conflagrat our country.
To the glory of God, the rest is history, we are still working to stabilize the fragile peace in the region. I thank God also for the instruments he used to be able to keep our country as one. We are humbled by the privileges.” On what he told the northern governors that were in his state as a result of the ethnic tension generated by the clash between the army and IPOB, he said that he assured the northern governors of the safety of their people in Abia State.
He said, “Well, I assured them of safety of lives and property of everybody that resides in Abia whether you are an Abian or not an Abian. I swore with the Bible to protect lives and property and because I take such things seriously, I will continue to protect the lives and property of my brothers and sisters irrespective of where they come from.
“You know that the main stay of our economy in Abia State is trade and commerce and I do not think it will augur well for our economy if we make our kitchen the theater of Biafra. “A native wisdom in my place says you shouldn’t allow fight to ensue from your mother’s kitchen.
It is my responsibility also to grow prosperity from my state.” Commenting on the essence of his meeting with the Vice President, he said, “Well, naturally I am heading a subnational government when this kind of thing happens which would have had dimension of national proportion, it is right that you will come and brief the Commander-in-Chief or his vice and that is exactly what I have come to do.”
On his reaction to allegations that the IPOB crisis was as a result of failure of leadership in the South East, he said that the new crop of governors in the zone were doing their best to better the lots of the people. He said, “Allegations are supposed to be investigated by investigative officers and I am not trying to investigate such things, so is just the masses especially the press. “You know, we are perception builders, we should try to say things that are good about our country not things that are bad.
I think there are enough reasons to see that under our circumstance that we may not be Eldorado yet but there are concerted efforts and attempts to make our place a better place. “I do not see how as an Ibo man boxing myself into a smaller geographic entity without recourse of the most widely traveled people in Nigeria. There are Igbos in Sambisa, what are you expecting of them if I narrow their geography of coverage.
“But agitation, marginalization, infrastructural deficiencies, these are issues which are germane and they can be discussed, they can be spoken about, they can be addressed. But I do not know how in 21st century how carrying arms in my kitchen will grow the prosperity of my people.”
On his message to Igbos all over the world he said, “First and foremost I think our relationship with our brothers from northern Nigeria the governors, they have assured that every part of Nigeria is safe for every Nigerian including Igbos to continue in their business and enterprise. “I want to announce that the population of Igbos outside Igbo enclave is about 11.6 million, you don’t play with the lives of 11.6 million.
So we all have to be careful, the press, the leadership at the state level, the leadership at the federal government level, everybody. “I think we should be guided by the rule of law and grow confidence in the Nigerian citizens that under our laws that everybody is protected.”