Former Delta State Governor, Chief James Onanefe Ibori, on Sunday disowned those canvassing the establishment of the state of Biafra, noting that he did not have a hand in the pro-Biafra agitation.
This came as pro-Biafra activists stormed the streets of Enugu State protesting against the detention of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.
Business activities were grounded as a result of the protest within the metropolis of the Coal City state.
The former governor also decried the misuse of his photographs, which he said, were reportedly embossed on the banners held aloft by some of the Biafra agitators during demonstration on Saturday.
He dissociated himself from the pro-Biafran demonstration in a statement by his Media Assistant, Mr. Tony Eluemunor, while drawing attention to how his photographs were misused by some people involved in the demonstrations to drum up support for the establishment of the state of Biafra.
Ibori noted that his photograph, embossed on banners, had been reportedly held aloft by some of the demonstrators, as they marched through several cities in many states of South-east geo-political zone.
He noted that he “is absolutely, completely and entirely committed to the indissolubility of the Nigerian state, as spelt out unambiguously in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“He said all through his life, he had believed in a strong, united Nigeria where the rights of every citizen is held sacrosanct and where no region, state or even local government area, “is neglected or is made to feel alienated in whatever way, no matter how infinitesimal.”
The former governor therefore called on those who have been misusing his name and picture – indeed his personality – in furtherance of a project he never believed in at any time and in any way to desist forthwith from using his picture and/or name during their demonstrations.
Ibori said: “The world hailed Nigeria for the peaceful way the rather fierce Nigerian civil war ended in 1970. It is worrisome that 45 years after the end of that war, its residues are being dug up to further divide us and betray our efforts at national reconciliation and development.
“This must not be allowed to continue. Nigeria has lived in peace in the past 45 years, and whatever challenges, disagreements that may have re-surfaced, are not beyond our collective ability to resolve.
“I therefore call on all concerned, the demonstrators and the leaders of the different strata of government to identify the problems, determine the solutions, and turn the stumbling blocks into genuine building blocks for real nation building.”
Ibori said many other countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom and Spain, “have sections agitating for various kinds of autonomy. But if those countries have managed to keep such agitations at the level of peaceful discussions, Nigeria’s case should by no means lead to another national tragedy.
“Nigeria has split enough blood in internecine squabbles. Now is the time for genuine peace, national unity, and thorough-going, all-inclusive fast-paced development .”
Meanwhile, in Enugu State, the protesters, made up of the members of the IPOB and the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra MASSOB, defied police order and marched round major streets in Enugu metropolis.
As at the time of filing this report, they were, however, peaceful as motorists were allowed to ply without any confrontation.
Some residents who were going to different churches for yesterday’s worship joined the crowd in the protest march holding their Bibles and chanting ‘Anyi amakwe,’ meaning ‘We will not agree.’
However, the protest was against an earlier order by the police in Enugu State, which had banned such activity.
In a letter entitled: ‘Alleged plan by groups to embark on violent protests,’ which was signed by the spokesman of the state Police Command, Ebere Amaraizu, he said: “The Enugu State Command of the Nigeria Police Force, wishes to inform members of the public that information available to her reveal that there are alleged plan by some group of people masquerading under the aegis of IPOB, MASSOB, among others to embark on violent protest using dangerous weapons within the state and its environs.
“In view of this, the command wishes to remind those fanning the ember of this unlawful act as well as their supporters to be law abiding and desist from such intended protest in the state as security operatives of the command have been directed to fish out those in this habit and bring them to book.
“The state command further wishes to inform members of the public particularly, good people of the state of its readiness to provide functional security to its citizenry in partnership with other sister security agencies in the state.
“To this end, members of the public are advised to be law abiding and go about their normal lawful businesses.”