BY VINCENT UJUMADU
THE entire Igbo nation was taken aback last weekend when unknown persons swooped on the Ukehe, Igbo Etiti local government area of Enugu State country home of the national president of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, during which parts of the building were heavily torched. From the level of damage done to the building, it was obvious that highly explosive materials were used to bomb the house.
Though nobody sustained injury when the explosion occurred, the mere fact that people could summon up courage to inflict such damage on the number one Igbo citizen showed the extent people could go to express their anger on someone who had devoted his time to the service of his people.
Since Nwodo took over the mantle of leadership of Ohaneze, the Igbo socio-cultural organization had gained enormous respect even among other ethnic nationalities in Nigeria. There is hardly any serious occasion in Nigeria in which the Ohaneze leadership is not invited and this could be attributable to the quality leadership provided by Nnia Nwodo in Ohaneze.
Unfortunately on this fateful day of April 29, 2018, the sleepy community of Ukehe, Nwodo’s home town experienced what is rare in the area even in this era of killings in various parts of the country. It was a day unknown individuals through bombs into the Nwodo mansions and destroyed parts of the building.
Information issued after the incident by the Police Bomb Disposal Unit suggested that it was an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) that was hurled over the fence into the compound, causing extensive damage to the windows, the ceiling of one of the houses in the compound and an air-conditioning unit. At the scene of the incident, items collected included batteries, pellets and other materials used in preparing the IED, which the police said, would be carefully scrutinized and analyzed.
Enugu State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Danmallam Mohammed who visited the scene shortly after it happened, wondered why those he described as miscreants would be after the life of Nwodo whom, he said, is only serving his people. Noting that what happened called for the need for greater security around Nwodo, the CP ordered that security be beefed up in and around the compound and promised that the perpetrators would ultimately be identified and brought to justice.
But the question is, why would any right –thinking person attack Nwodo? The Ohaneze boss himself might also have the question in mind when he expressed surprise that anybody would be after his life. However, what gladdened the heart of every Igbo person was when he added that the incidence would not deter him from leading the Igbo nation.
Indeed, Nwodo has not been having things easy since he mounted the saddle. Recall that following the stand of the Ohaneze president that the election in Anambra State must hold, at a time the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, was calling for election boycott in the state, the pro-Biafra agitators felt his action was against the interest Biafra. Eventually when the election took place with great success, IPOB leadership blamed Nwodo for standing in the way of the Biafra project.
Nwodo has also consistently been speaking against adopting violent means to agitate for anything, arguing that he would never allow another situation of war after the unfortunate Nigeria-Biafra war that claimed thousands of lives. At every opportunity, he insisted that dialogue to get better deals for the Igbo nation remained the way forward. But IPOB members did not like the position of Ohaneze and accused him of working against their interest. He was also faulted on his position on the restructuring of Nigeria to ensure equity among the ethnic groups and the geopolitical zones.
As if the pressure from IPOB was not enough, a faction of Ohaneze youth and women wings, suspended earlier by the Ohaneze leadership, mounted another battle against the Nwodo leadership. This time, they went as far as announcing the suspension of the leadership of Ohaneze..
The alleged suspension of Nwodo took place seven days after the group passed a vote of no confidence on him. According to the group, the suspension was due to his refusal to appear before a disciplinary committee set up to investigate allegations against his leadership. The group, which has one Okechukwu Isiguzoro as chairman said: “With the seven-day ultimatum given to the embattled President General, Ohaneze Ndigbo Dr. Nnia Nwodo, having expired, and having had him instead of clearing his sullen hands from the weighty allegations of highhandedness and turning Ohaneze Ndigbo into a political appendage party for those that could pay and pick his greedy bills – the main issue why he was asked to clear his names, to start ordering for termination of leadership and calling for elections into the youth and women wings for querying him for his gross antisocial behaviours;
“We, the well meaning and rightly focused Ohaneze Youth Wing, OYW, under the President-General, Mazi Okechukwu Isisguzoro, having earlier-on reaffirmed our confidence in our present executives, hereby, in a joint meeting with Ohaneze Ndigbo Women Wing, will no longer have Dr. Nnia Nwodo to continue doing his businesses with Igbo identity and political interests, and hereby arrive at the following decisions, as advised by the seven-man Investigation committee that Nnia Nwodo failed to appear before, to clear his name:
“That the Ohaneze Youth and Women Wings had for so long tolerated the shameful and debased politics of Chief Nnia Nwodo-led Ohaneze Ndigbo, while he sidelines the various organs of Ohaneze Ndigbo, including Ime Obi and his 24 – man led executive that are there to represent their various localities and states and having relegated them to the backgrounds to getting little or no attention from their respective state, socio-cultural and political constituencies; and charters of offices and demands.
They also accused Nwodo of speaking from both sides of his mouth while at the same time claiming to represent the pan social ideals of Ohaneze and alleged that Nwodo speaks differently in different fora on Igbo politics, Biafra restoration and inequalities in Nigerian nationality to now conscripted himself “minister of restructuring” without consulting his Igbo people.
“He is no longer to us President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo and we urge every other Igbo national to so consider him as such. and he stands suspended and by extension, his political brigade-boys, Ohaneze Ndigbo Executives till peace and mutual respects for institutional order, measures and respects is returned to Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the group said.”
Despite the allegations against Nwodo, he had consistently been preaching peace, describing both the IPOB and Ohaneze youths as his children, who he would never harm in any way.
So, when the attack on Nwodo’s home occurred, there were varied opinions on which group might have been behind it. While the public is waiting for security operatives to fish out the attackers, the various groups that have been waging battle against Nwodo might not be surprised if they were invited to make statements concerning the attack.
Expectedly, reactions trailed the attack on Chief Nnia Nwodo. The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in its reaction described the action of the arsonists as callous, horrendous and wicked and called on security agencies to unravel the identities of the masked characters behind the dastardly act
“Our country cannot afford another form of criminality in view of the psychological trauma Nigerians are going through with bloodletting and killings in many states of the federation,” the party said.
Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu also condemned the bombing in strong terms, urging security agencies to swing into action and arrest the culprits to serve as deterrent to others. Ekweremadu said: “This is a dastardly act. It is certainly ugly, evil, and outrageous. I roundly condemn it. This is quite an unusual development in the South-East and we will not accept it. I call on the security agencies to get to the root of this devilish act and ensure that the culprits and masterminds are brought to book immediately.”
Also condemning the attack on Nwodo house, the Youth Wing of Ohanaeze loyal to Nwodo pleaded with security agencies to fish out the people behind the explosion at his country home at Ukehe. A member of the youth wing in Bayelsa, Chief Chinedu Ugwa described the incident as strange, saying that the youth wing was in solidarity with Nwodo. Ugwa, who is the coordinator of the Ohanaeze Youth Wing in the South-South called for vigilance in Igbo land as the security situation worsens in parts of the country, especially in neighbouring Benue State.
He said: “We in the youth wing of Ohanaeze are saddened by the development and condemn it. We pray for safety of the President-General of our parent body, Chief John Nnia Nwodo. This incident is unfortunate and we urge our leader not to lose focus on his task of unifying the Igbo nation and building bridges of peace amongst Igbo across the world.
“Nwodo is a peace advocate and should put the incident behind him and move on. We frown at it and say no to the act as we await the response of security agencies to unravel the cause of the explosion that went off on Sunday at Nwodo’s house.
“This is a distraction that should not be allowed to divert the attention of the Ohanaeze leadership from its vision of re-positioning the Igbo in Nigeria to play greater roles in economic development of the country. We earnestly ask the security agencies to reinforce security around Nwodo to enable him function in his office while the perpetrators of this dastardly act should be arrested and prosecuted.”
Traditional ruler of Umudele in Ukehe, Igwe Lawrence Aroh, thanked God for saving the life of the Ohaneze president, even as he wondered why those he called bad elements should constitute danger to others in a country bountifully endowed by nature
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