By Innocent Duru and Okodili Ndidi, Abuja

The Igbo apex socio-cultural group, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, on Saturday apologised to the leadership of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) over the outburst of the proscribed indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) on its National Leader, Chief Edwin Clark.

The separatist group had on Friday blasted Clark for declaring that the Niger Delta should be counted out of Biafra.

Spokesman of the group, Emma Powerful, in the controversial remark, dismissed Clark as a general without foot soldiers and one who lacked authority to speak for the people of the zone.

Alarmed by the comment against its leader, PANDEF yesterday described IPOB’s remark as “idiotic”, asking the leadership of the Igbo nation to denounce the statement by IPOB, and “tender a public apology to the elder statesman, and, indeed, the entire Niger Delta people, in the interest of healthy relations between the Southeast and the South-south zones.”

Responding to PANDEF’s demand in an interview with one of our correspondents yesterday, the National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze, Hon. Alex Ogbonnia, denounced the IPOB statement, saying that it did not enjoy the support of Igbo leaders and elders.

Ogbonnia said: “All over the world, there is a fundamental difference between the youths and the elderly.  The youths are characterised sometimes by a certain level of impetuosity and exuberance. That is the characteristics of the youths all over the world. It is not limited to the Igbo.

“As for the elderly, our role is to continue to condition them, advise them, guide them and by God’s grace, sometimes they listen.

“Coming to the remark by IPOB to our elder statesman for that matter, it doesn’t take the support of the elderly family of the Igbo.

“Ohanaeze is not in support of such remarks. We condemn such remarks vehemently, and we are asking Chief Clark to forgive, to understand that we still look at him as our leader in the southern and Middle Belt Forum.

“Our respect and regard for him is very, very much intact. We are also adding that fair enough, he has youths in the South-south who also cannot be exempted from the IPOB’s youthful exuberance.

“We urge the IPOB and our Igbo brothers that the struggle we are into now is one that requires inter –ethnic relation and collaboration.

“To that extent, you need other ethnic groups to carry on with whatever agitation we have. To begin to rubbish the leaders of other ethnic groups or elder statesmen is not really in the interest of the Igbo anyway.”

He went on to stress the need for the Ndigbo to have mutual relationships with other ethnic groups.  “Whether Biafra or no Biafra, Igbo must still have to relate with the South-south and other parts of Nigeria. The location of Igbo is constant as far as this world is concerned.

“We are already located in a place and our location demands that we relate very well with Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Benue, Ijaw, Igala and all parts of Nigeria.

PANDEF, in a statement issued yesterday by its National Chairman and former Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Emmanuel Ibok Essien, described as “idiotic” and “foolhardy” the statement credited to the spokesman of the outlawed group, Emma Powerful, against Chief Edwin Clark.

Essien said: “The preposterous expressions in the said article could only have emanated from deluded and demented minds, and are quite indicative of the silliness of the IPOB officialdom.

“It is a shame that they cannot differentiate between fact and fantasy. This stupidity would erode any sympathy they had hitherto received from the South-south geopolitical zone.

“Let us restate, without any equivocation, that the Niger Delta Region is not part of Biafra, and that no inch of the South-south geopolitical zone shall be part of any imagined “Republic”.

“It’s rather puerile for IPOB or any other group to consider that Niger Delta region would be part of any arbitrary contraption.

“If it becomes necessary for the Niger Delta people to pull out of this country, we shall do so on our terms.”

Army, IPOB in verbal war over bombing allegation

The Nigerian Army and the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) were engaged in war of words yesterday as the latter accused the army of unprovoked attack against the operatives of the Eastern Security Network (ESN) the militant arm of IPOB, in Enugu.

IPOB alleged that a combined team of soldiers and security operatives on Friday, July 23, 2021 unleashed attack against innocent ESN operatives at Akpofu Nkanu forests in Enugu State.

The Nigerian Army in turn accused IPOB of circulating a fake video portraying some soldiers as destroying crops in a farmland, describing it as an attempt to denigrate the Army and urging the public to disregard the viral video.

IPOB, in a statement issued by its spokesman, Emma Powerful, had described the attack on ESN as unwarranted, stressing that its operatives had done nothing to deserve the “unprovoked attack”.

It said the ESN had only been defending the communities in the area against incessant attacks and destruction of their farms by killer Fulani herdsmen.

The statement reads in part: “The hypocritical Nigerian security agents have failed to protect Biafrans against the incursions by Fulani jihadists.

“Yet instead of allowing ESN to defend our ancestral land against terrorists invasion, the Nigerian Army and other security agencies have been unleashed against innocent volunteer security outfit safeguarding the lives of Biafrans.

“This is the height of wickedness. NIGERIA is aiding and abating terrorism. Fulani controlled federal government gives tacit support to terrorists but crushes peaceful agitators. This is wickedness and hypocrisy which God must judge.

“The same FULANI terrorists masquerading as herdsmen have for years been kidnapping, raping and killing locals in Nkanu and other communites in Biafra land until December 2020 when ESN was set up to flush them out of our forests.

“Now their real sponsors have come to defend them against ESN by combing the forests in hunt of ESN operatives instead of the terrorists.

“Since Fulani herdsmen started their killing spree in Biafra land, has any of them been arrested let alone prosecuted by any security agency? Yet every other day the Army and other security agencies have been hunting for ESN like wild animals.

“The cowardly South East governors and the evil political elite will still protect them. The police officers were not killed by ESN. The criminals who killed police officers ran into the bush where ESN operatives were staying.

“ESN and IPOB members were not involved in the attack against security agents. Nigerian government and her army group of terrorists should leave IPOB and ESN alone because we do nothing wrong by protecting our people from Fulani terrorists herdsmen who have been crossing Akpofu community bushes to Ebonyi State and other parts of Biafraland.

“We are calling on the governor of Enugu State, Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, to call commander 82 division Enugu to know that ESN and IPOB did not kill any police.

“Nigerian Army and police should not out of hatred and envy attack ESN because we’re Igbo.”

The Nigerian Army yesterday urged the public to disregard the viral video of soldiers destroying crops in a farmland, describing it as attempt to denigrate the Army.

Director Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, in a statement, maintained that the ‘doctored’ video was a deliberate propaganda by Eastern Security Network (ESN) to portray the personnel of the Nigerian Army as enemies of the people.

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According to the statement, “the attention of the Nigerian Army (NA) has been drawn to a doctored video footage released by secessionist sympathisers on YouTube, featuring blurred images of some persons dressed in green camouflage destroying a farmland in an undisclosed location, recently.

“In an attempt to denigrate the reputation and image of the NA, authors of the video mischievously attributed the action of the persons to the military by falsely claiming they are soldiers and invariably personnel of the Nigerian Army.”

It added: “However, following  a fact finding investigation on the video by subjecting it to credible reverse image, it was discovered that the video was first published on YouTube channel “BIAFRA BOY”

“The investigation also revealed that the image of the men in green camouflage was deliberately blurred to conceal their identity from viewers.

“Similarly, the authors failed to identify the location, community or local government area the incident occurred.

“Given these facts, it is apparent that the video footage is a deliberate propaganda by ESN to bring the reputation and image of the NA into disrepute by portraying personnel of the NA as enemies of the people.

“Members of the general public are please urged to be wary of such negative propaganda materials and subject them to thorough scrutiny.

“We therefore urge the public to please discountenance the propaganda video as it is the machination of mischief makers targeting the Nigerian military.

“We reassure the general public that the Nigerian Army will continue to operate professionally regardless of all divisive propaganda. We assure all peace loving Nigerians of our commitment to aid civil authorities in the containment of security challenges in line with constitutional provisions.”

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