The Leadership of the Ijaw National Congress (INC), the umbrella socio-cultural organisation of Ijaw ethnic nationality, has dispelled as untrue news making the rounds in several media platforms and credited to the Spokesman of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Emma Powerful, alleging that “a criminal gang headed by an Izon Warlord, who has continued to show unrepentant hatred for the Ndigbo and Biafra agitation, championed by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB members worldwide, is busy recruiting Izon boys and killing innocent Biafrans in Imo, Abia and Eboyin States in the name of chasing IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu.”
In a statement signed by the Ijaw leader, Professor Benjamin Agele Okaba, a copy made available to our Correspondent, said: “The IPOB Spokesman is also quoted as inferring that, but for the respect they have for the age-long cordial relationship that has existed between the Izon and the Igbo, they would have retaliated. That they are almost running out of patience, hence, the call for caution.”
Accordingly, the statement explained: “The INC regards these allegations as weighty and calls for serious concern because the Ijaw nation, the Igbo people and several other ethnic nationalities in the South and Middle-belt in Nigeria, have, on different fronts, jointly confronted common issues bordering on criminal neglect, oppression, environmental degradation, exploitation, insecurity, injustice and other forms of deprivation and hardship suffered in the hands of insensitive leadership in the Nigerian hegemonic state. The Ijaws and Igbos are all victims of systematic insensitivity to the plight of the minorities.”
Part of the statement reads: “It is on record that Ijaw agitators are known for the promotion and defence of the Ijaw cause for self-determination, resource justice, equity, fairness to all and the demand for full implementation of principles of the Federalism and not attack on other ethnic nationalities of Nigeria.
“In fact, one of the salient resolutions of the ‘Kaiama Declaration of Ijaw Youths’, including the agitators, which has guided their struggles over the years, is the resolution to extend hands of friendship and support other ethnic nationalities’ peaceful, genuine quest and struggle for freedom and self-actualisation.
“The Ijaw National Congress at its All Ijaw Summit held in 2021, did, in unequivocal terms, resolve to pursue the noble cause of self-determination, through non-violence, civil engagement strategy and solidarise with other entities that share similar aspirations.
“Therefore, it will be preposterous to even imagine that Ijaw people of whatsoever background could align, associate itself, encourage or endorse the attacks on other ethnic nationalities in whatever guise and for whatever reasons.”
The group explained further that the use of violence against the neighbouring ethnic groups, totally contravenes the ideals of the Ijaw struggle, stressing that: “Therefore, militia groups brandishing Ijaw symbolism for selfish atrocious economic adventures, particularly against our Igbo neighbours and other ethnic nationalities, are on their own and are acting at their own peril. The Ijaw nation dissociates itself from such actions and people.
“However, due to the very sensitive nature of the issue at stake, the leadership of Ijaw National Congress shall immediately carry out further investigations on the alleged attacks by Izon militia group against Igbos and deploy appropriate measures that would prevent the ensuing misgivings from deteriorating into unwarranted and avoidable crises.
“Finally, we wish to strongly appeal to all Ijaw freedom fighters and youths in general, to demonstrate total commitment to the ideals of the Ijaw agenda for freedom, as enunciated by the founding fathers of the struggle and apply due diligence in their individual and collective activities.”