Awka — Former Vice Chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Prof Ilochi Okafor, has charged elders of Igbo land not to keep quiet in the face of brazen intimidation by the federal government against the people of the South-east.
Prof Okafor who spoke during a special court session presided over by the Chief judge of Anambra State, Hon. Justice Peter Umeadi, in a ceremony to mark the commencement of a new legal year of the Anambra State judiciary stated that the proscription of the activities of the members of the indigenous People of Biafra(IPOB) by the South- east governors was done in bad fate.
He also condemned labeling of the group as a terrorist organisation and the deployment of soldiers to the south-east, saying that the federal government has no justification for the action, but only sought to intimidate and bully the people of the region.
"I am 73. If I do not speak out, when will I ever speak out? Is it in the grave? But speak out I must. Our bar is not all about holding dinners, attending weddings and funerals, where we eat and wine. Nor is it about holding conferences devoted to endless speeches and pontification.
"If our governors, lawmakers and political class sit by and keep silent, elders should not. I urge elders to speak out now. The Igbos are peaceful people. Demonstration towards self- realisation of the right to self -determination are recognised as fundamental human right in international law and United Nations charter.
"Nigerians are bound by such law, our people are issued with civil notice to leave the North or face very dire consequences, and no person has been arrested. The army has not been stationed in the North. October 1 is the deadline and is around the corner. Who protects our people presently in the north?"
Okafor said that it is a known fact that armies do not arrest civilians, rather police do, and that armies cannot be stationed against a peaceful people or demonstrators. He said the job of soldiers was to intervene where crisis is beyond the police, and also guarding the country against external aggression.
"Despite the verbal violence and grandiose rhetorics of Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB is not a terrorist group. No person has been killed by IPOB. Its rallies have been heavily crowded, but it has not been shown that any person carried or discharged weapons during the rallies.
"Their exuberance proved the wide, aggressive and passion filled disconnect with Nigeria and the older generation. I belong to this generation, and we have failed our people. For the Igbo self-haters, the enemy within is a bigger threat than the enemy outside.
"We must listen to our youths. Their dissatisfaction is real, profound and deep. The political class that sit in the comfort of their mansions in Abuja and elsewhere in the world must listen to the youth now or never.
"To Biafrans, I say that you must continue to agitate peacefully. The world is listening to you. Your cries against our marginalisation and threats to annihilate us must never be drowned. Never before has any group in Nigeria brought to the fore the imperativeness and urgency of restructuring Nigeria.
"But as the Ohas of Ohaneze, you must find accommodation with the ezes of Ohaneze and other groups in Nigeria clamouring for the country to exist on principles of justice, equity, fairness and integrity and free of corruption, hatred and zealotry," Okafor submitted.
This year's ceremony to mark the commencement of legal year in the state was attended by a large section of members of the bench and bar from all parts of the state.