The Civil Liberty Advocates of Nigeria (CLAN) has noted with alarm the continued killing of innocent Nigerians in the southeast of the country by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) linked terrorists of the Eastern Security Network (ESN) operating under the franchise of Unknown Gunmen as we have now concluded true Nigerian patriots must be bold in condemning the criminal acts.
What we find more worrisome and more odious than the killings is the loud silence from the Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, who has refused to categorically speak against the carnage that IPOB and ESN have unleashed in the southeast even when is arguably the most important person from the geo-political zone to weigh in on the matter on account of his current political enterprise.
It is on account of this that the expectation among right thinking members of the society is that Mr. Obi would have by now roundly condemned the wanton waste of human lives by the terrorists under the pretext of agitating for self-determination, which actually undermines the Labour Party candidate’s interest since he can only become president of a united Nigeria and not one fractured into ethnic enclaves as his kinsmen are agitating for.
In our view, irrespective of the political sensitivity associated with calling out those behind this wanton waste of human lives, Mr. Obi’s refusal to swallow the bitter pill and demand an end to the killings by IPOB/ESN is a red flag that we are not taking lightly. The implication of his deafening silence is that he would be nonchalant when IPOB/ESN take their killings to other parts of Nigeria under his watch as president, assuming he was so elected.
CLAN has carefully evaluated Mr. Obi’s indifference to the killing of Nigerians by these terrorists in the southeast and have concluded that it is becoming increasingly difficult for the Labour Party candidate to justify that he does not endorse the criminality of IPOB/ESN on account of ethnic sympathy because his stance on them or lack of it defies logic. From all indications, the terrorists interpret Mr. Obi’s failure to censure them as encouragement to harm more people.
The lame excuses some of his associates have put up on his behalf are not tenable. For instance, arguing that there are terrorist killings in other geo-political zones is not contextually similar to what is going on in the southeast; the terrorists operating in the northeast and northwest have been the subject of denouncement and condemnation by some prominent politicians and influential people from these areas, who took such bold steps even when the perpetrators are of the same ethnic and sectarian stock as them. Besides, the terrorists in these other instances are acting on the basis of extremism and not separatism as is the case with IPOB.
We find it tragic that because of Mr. Obi’s silence on this matter there are now insinuations that he has failed to properly respond to the threat posed by IPOB/ESN because the terrorists have collapsed the political wings of their organizations into his OBIdient movement. The explanation from those holding this view is that IPOB’s hostile anti-Nigeria rhetoric have grown silent as such vituperations are now the hallmark of members of the OBIdient movement, some of whom are known IPOB online propagandists before their new roles as campaigners for the Labour Party candidate.
CLAN therefore insists that Mr. Peter Obi’s silence on the killing of Nigerians in the southeast is no longer golden. We therefore demand that Mr. Obi calls IPOB and ESN to order to stop killings of innocent Nigerians, including his kinsmen and people of other sectarian and ethnic affiliations. He must speak out and not be a hypocrite.
_Maxwell John Eche _
_*Executive Director, CLAN*_