Different pressure groups from the South East and the South rose from a meeting in Umuahia over the weekend calling for a referendum on the 2014 Confab resolutions, as the only way forward to save Nigerian.
The groups condemned what they called the hounding, arrests and intimidation of IPOB members, innocent youths, “whose only sin is their loss of faith in the lopsided, unfair and unjust unitary Nigeria where some regions are continuously treated as conquered people.”
They insisted that the confab report must be retrieved from the archives, and early referendum conducted to determine the fate and future of Nigeria.
Others were representatives of CAN, Age Grades and Socio-cultural Organizations from the South East and South zones, Igbo in Academia, South East Professionals, Niger Delta Youth Forum, PFN, World Igbo Congress, South East Traders Associations, Igbo Survival Movement, South East Congress, Igbo Women Assembly, amongst others.
They agreed to be meeting bi-monthly until a larger and broad-based coalition is built amongst like minds in the South West and Middle belt for a stronger demand for a referendum on the 2014 confab resolutions.
Interim chairman of the group, Bishop Micheal Ibeneme lamented the continuous heating of the false allegation on the IPOB members in order to criminalise them, saying such wicked plots will only deepen division in Nigeria.
“Everyone knows they are a big headache to the FG, but the resort to laying false allegation on them in order to incriminate them, has turned out the last straw, there is a limit to what people can take.
“This obvious plot to continue killing and arresting them in the hope that they would eventually turn around and suddenly fall in love with this unitary Nigeria where they have been permanently relegated to second-class status will never work. The F.G. is clearly applying the wrong strategy. We want a referendum now”, he said.
Leader of the Igbo Women Assembly Chief (Mrs.) Maria Okwor, who is deputy Chairman of the meeting said, only a referendum will solve the problem now.
“Our children are massacred daily, arrested in their sleep on trumped up charges of planning to bomb China, Canada, and Germany. No evidence, no proof, this Abacha style is only designed to intimidate and cow everybody into fearful silence.
“Instead of restructuring Nigeria into true federalism, the F.G. is employing brutal suppression to terrorise and intimidate citizens. We insist on an early referendum to decide the future of Nigeria. Brutality and suppression will never work. We can’t be intimidated. I am 81 years and Buhari and the DSS cannot intimidate me”.
Founder of Igbo Youth Movement (IYM) and deputy secretary of Igbo Leaders of Thought, Evang. Elliot Uko said the meeting should expand and bring in more credible people.
“This meeting should invite more people and enlarge the coalition in order to harness opinions from more experienced minds. Yes, there is bitterness, discontent and anger in Eastern Nigeria today, but we must try and carry everybody along. Those who are yet to see that restructuring is the only way forward must be converted.
“We would open their eyes to see that Nigeria can never move forward unless we revert to true federalism”, he declared.
The groups will meet again at the end of July.