THE arrest of 486 suspected members of the Boko Haram group and the discovery of explosives inside a Winners’ Chapel in Owerri, Imo State, have continued to generate tension and fears across the southeast, as residents continue to express divergent opinions over a possible attack by the insurgents. Different groups and notable Igbo leaders have expressed their views on the arrest, with most warning that any such attack may warrant a reprisal. The apex Igbo cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, said it was not comfortable with the arrest of the 486 suspected terrorists. The organization’s Deputy President, Chief Ogochukwu Onyema, cautioned that the arrest should not be politicized. His words: “As far as I am concerned, the arrest of 486
Northerners en route to Port Harcourt should not be politicised, or seen to be awkward. Every suspicious movement ought to be intercepted and duly investigated in the interest of our nation and each and every one of us residing therein. “We all know the state of insecurity in our country now; and security agents had been severally encouraged to be more up and doing in intercepting any suspicious movement. “This does not mean that anybody arrested by security agents is guilty of the offence suspected. It is only investigations that will tell whether those arrested are guilty or not. Police, indeed has unfettered powers to arrest anybody compellable, on reasonable suspicion, he said. The Prof. Ben Nwabueze led Igbo Leaders of Thought also spoke on the security issue in the South East. The Deputy Secretary of the group, Evang. Elliot Uko, told our correspondent that: “As a wanted Boko Haram kingpin was identified amongst the arrested suspects in Umuahia, this new fact has upped the ante confirming that Nigeria is presently experiencing its most dangerous times since the civil war. Not even the June 12 crisis created such panic and “preparations” in the South East. “The most frightening danger of all is the fact of the possibility that both the Federal Government and the sponsors of Boko Haram might not realize the level of fear and preparations for any eventuality that has pervaded the entire eastern region since Owerri Church and Umuahia junction incidents. “Should any explosion occur in the East with casualties, it will be impossible to hold down or control the avalanche of reprisals which naturally will also attract further reprisals up North, thereby confirming Late Muamar Ghadaffi as a prophet. “The 2015 prediction will become a reality and the refugee problem alone will destabilize the entire West African sub region. “A stitch in time saves nine, we plead with the backers of terror, to have a rethink on any plans to attack the East, as both the states government and elders of the zone cannot, no matter how hard they try, control the unpleasant reactions that would flow from the masses whose patience have been tried over and over by Boko Haram. “May the pent up anger boiling in the bowels of our people over the years not get to implosion point. We can only hope that these nightmarish stories of an impending attack in the East are not true.” Obigbo, a pan Igbo sociocultural cum political organization, warned that the South East is a no-go-area for the insurgents, saying “It is no longer in doubt that there is clear and present danger to the lives and properties of Indigbo in Igbo land.” Speaking in Lagos, the national leader of the group, Chief Charles UgochukwuAhize, expressed concern over the infiltration of the Boko Haram into the South East. According to him, “Obigbo hereby sounds a clear note of warning to the Boko Haram insurgents, their financiers and backers that the South East region is a no go area for them. Ndigbo is not and will never be part of whatever cause they are fighting for. “The Igbo race has suffered enough marginalization, subjugation and injustice but these have not deterred Ndigbo from contributing immensely to the economic development and unity of this country. Any attack on Ndigbo on Igbo soil will be considered as crossing the Rubicon and a haram.” He warned that Ndigbo would not take it lightly with the group if they attack any part of the eastern part of the country. “We want to make it abundantly clear to the Boko Haram insurgents, some political elements, a few of the shameless Igbo politicians collaborating with them that if any life is lost on Igbo soil as a result of Boko Haram activities, there will be a reprisal of monumental proportions that the country will find difficult to contain.