Friday, April 19, 2024

Igbo reject Almajirai relocation to Southeast

The Igbo on Tuesday vowed to resist the influx of the Almajirai in the Southeast.

Their leaders lamented the increasing relocation of the Northern youths despite the interstate travel ban by the Federal Government.

The highest Igbo socio-cultural organisation, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the Igbo National Council (INC) and the Anambra State Association of Town Unions (ASATU) called for a halt to the influx.

The Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth and the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) also kicked against the development.

They accused security agencies of complicity in the free movement of the Almajirai, which they said makes a mockery of the ban.

Ohanaeze President in Anambra State, Chief Damian Okeke-Ogene, said the Federal Government has failed to effectively enforce its order.

He said it was left for the people to protect themselves.

“The Federal Government is not ready to protect us. We must take our security in our hands. No other person can do that.

“We’re ready and we warn those without a mission in the state to find alternative abodes. This state can’t contain us and them,” Ogene said.

INC described the relocation of the Amajirai to the Southeast as an assault on the Ndigbo.

Its President, Chilos Confident, expressed dismay at what he called the clandestine movement of the Almajirai into various communities and towns in Igboland.

He claimed that he had information that there was an ulterior motive behind the relocation of the Almajirai, especially as they were granted unrestricted freedom of movement.

Confident urged Igbo leaders to reinvigorate their vigilante outfits and initiate an identification exercise in their communities.

“We also enjoin the vigilante groups to commence regular combing and security of all the forests of our communities.

“INC will do everything possible to protect the citizens and territories of the Igbo nation-states,” he said.

ASATU National President Chief Alex Onukwue wondered why the Almajirai were moving to the Southeast rather than returning to their states of origin.

He told reporters: “On behalf of all the communities of Anambra State, we express our disgust and total disappointment with ongoing wicked efforts by some desperate citizens, who are engaged in the wicked act of shipping strange persons from Northern Nigeria to the South, Anambra State and the Southeast inclusive.

“We wish to warn that should this callous business of shipping strange persons continue, Almajirai or not, from the North or elsewhere to Anambra State in light of COVID-19 restrictions, the communities of Anambra State will be left with no choice than to confront the situation with all the seriousness it deserves. We can no longer take it as child’s play.

“Whosoever that is or are behind this wickedness must refrain from doing so immediately as the communities of Anambra State can no longer fold our hands and watch on as our lives are being threatened by the mischievous inclinations of some unpatriotic citizens who can go as far as hiding human beings between animals and bags of cement or whatever and smuggle them from the Northern parts of the country down to Anambra State and the Southeast.”

Ohanaeze youths, in a statement by its National Deputy President, Dr Kingsly Dozie, urged the Southeast states to ensure the Almajirai return to where they came from.

“We will no longer tolerate the sabotage by security operatives who should man our borders and stop the influx of the Almajiris, including suspected Boko Haram extremists.


“We are engaging our youth vigilante groups to take charge of the borders. Enough is enough.

“We are warning all the security operatives to adhere strictly to the ban on interstate movement. We are now positioned to check the borders ourselves.

“We will not condone the sabotage from greedy and selfish security operatives and businessmen. The lives and property of our people are very important to us,” Dozie said in a statement.

The PFN said the free movement of the Almajirai, despite the lockdown, was a threat to efforts to curtail the spread of Coronavirus.

National Vice President (Southeast) Dr Cosmas Ilechukwu said it was strange and inexcusable that “these men and women are flooding into the Southeast despite the nationwide lockdown and ban on interstate travel”.

“To this end, we are calling on the Southeast governors to work the talk by putting up stern measures to ensure the protection of the region’s boundaries.

“The current situation should not be left unchecked as it poses grave danger to this zone,” he said.

The Paediatric Association of Nigeria (PAN) expressed concern over the treatment of the Almajirai.

The association, in a statement by its President and Secretary Prof Edward Alikor and Dr Petronila Tabansi, said the Almajirai were at risk of COVID-19 infection and transmission.

It said reports that some of the Almajirai were rejected by their states of origin and forced to return to where they came from was condemnable.

The statement reads: “PAN condemns the situation where Nigerian children are treated as pawns in the chessboards of political leaders or as irritants on our shoulders to be casually, carelessly (and defiantly) shoved away in their own country.

“PAN demands that these children be treated, not just as humans, but as vulnerable persons who play no role in and cannot take responsibility for decisions of adults and leaders that have led to the current situation.

“We also call on individuals, corporate bodies including NGOs to assist the governments in resettling these children in their various communities and providing them with optimal opportunities, decent and safe environment and quality education.”

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