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IPOB can’t threaten Buhari’s visit to Imo – Govt

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THE Imo State government has dismissed as meaningless the declaration of the sit-at-home order by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) for next Tuesday when President Muhammadu Buhari will visit the state.

Reacting to the threat at a press conference today in Owerri, the state capital, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy in the state, Declan Emelumba, said IPOB was not a threat to Buhari.

The Punch reports Emelumba as saying Buhari is the Commander-in-Chief of Nigeria’s armed forces and could not face any threat.

“Nobody can threaten Buhari. He is President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Imo is one of the states he governs, and he is free to visit it. 

“Security is in top gear, and I can assure you his visit will be successful,” he said.

Buhari will commission the first phase of the Owerri-Okigwe Road, the Owerri-Orlu Road and the rebuilt Imo State House of Assembly complex.

“Security is tight. Nobody can threaten Buhari. Security is absolutely guaranteed. Imo hasn’t been crime-free but security has improved in the state. We are going to have a successful reception for Mr President,” the commissioner added.

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The ICIR reports Buhari is returning to Imo State exactly a year after he was there, despite a similar sit-at-home threat by IPOB.

During his last visit, there was no chaos, but the streets were empty because residents were forced indoor by the threat.

Traditionally, a president’s visit to any state in Nigeria attracts reception by a large crowd.

Some of the crowd, including school children, file on the streets waving at the president.

IPOB, proscribed by Buhari in 2017 because of its continued agitation for the secession of the South-East from Nigeria, has remained a force in the region and has often commanded obedience from residents more than constituted governments. 

The ICIR reported today that the group has ordered all public and private institutions, including police stations, markets, schools, offices and banks, to shut down on Tuesday.

“If you are in support of Buhari detaining our leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, then go to Owerri on Tuesday the 13th day of September and welcome the president.

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“We, therefore, expect all markets, schools, banks, businesses and companies, including police stations in Biafra Land, to be under lock and key on Tuesday, September 13, 2022, in solidarity with our Leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu,” part of IPOB’s statement issued by its Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful read.

The group warned anyone planning to welcome Buhari in Owerri, Imo State capital, to be ready for trouble.

The IPOB did not issue Tuesday’s sit-at-home order because of Buhari’s visit alone; it is also to protest the trial of the IPOB’s leader, Nnamdi Kanu, whose trial the Federal Government will continue at the Court of Appeal in Abuja that day.

Sit-at-home is usually observed on Mondays in the South-East, but IPOB scheduled it for Tuesday this time because of Buhari’s visit and Kanu’s trial.

The group urged residents in the region to go about their lawful duties on Monday but abide by its order on Tuesday.

The ICIR reports that IPOB’s security arm, the Eastern Security Network (ESN), is always on the ground to enforce the sit-at-home whenever it is declared.

Despite its proscription by Buhari, IPOB has refused to back down on its agitation for the secession of the South-East from Nigeria.

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Kanu, its leader, has been standing trial for terrorism after he was controversially arrested and extradited from Kenya to Nigeria in 2021.

This newspaper reports that the region has faced increased tension, insecurity, attacks on public institutions, and killing of hundreds of civilians and security officers in the past few years.

 

Author profile

Marcus bears the light, and he beams it everywhere. He's a good governance and decent society advocate. He's the ICIR Reporter of the Year 2022. Contact him via email @ mfatunmole@icirnigeria.org.

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