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The Southeast Council of Traditional Rulers and the apex Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide have condemned the recent call for sit-at-home by the Simon Ekpa-led Autopilot group, during next Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly polls in the Southeast.
The Eastern Updates reports that order by the self-acclaimed disciple of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), also directed a total lockdown to the Igbo during the period.
But rising from an emergency meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC), Ohanaeze Ndigbo, presided over by its Secretary General, Ambassador Okey Emuchay, the apex Igbo body asked their people to disregard the order.
In a statement by the National Publicity Secretary, Dr. Alex Ogbonnia, the group expressed both shock and doubt that a true Igbo would unconscionably embark on a deceitful adventure, aimed at denigrating, disenfranchising, and decimating their people.
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Reiterating that it was the turn of the Igbo of Southeast to produce Nigeria’s next president, in line with natural justice and equity, Ohanaeze thanked the teeming right-thinking Nigerians and the global community for embracing the virtues in the Labour Party candidate, Peter Obi, as the most suitable, competent, visionary, inspiring and energetic contestant for the forthcoming general election.
It wondered the reason behind the order even when IPOB spokesman, Emma Powerful had dissociated the group from ‘any sit-at-home in the Southeast during the election period, urging residents to disregard the rumoured order making the rounds.’
Quoting Powerful, he stated that IPOB was only interested in the unconditional release of its leader, Nnamdi Kanu.
Ohanaeze, therefore, commended ‘the interventions with the Finish Ambassador to Nigeria, Leena Pylvanainen by Chief Geoffrey Onyeama, the Minister of Foreign Affairs; the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Usman Baba, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, Igbo Union in Finland, the general public especially the youths and the reassurances of President Muhammadu Buhari with respect to security and a free and fair election in 2023.’
Also, the monarchs in a communique after their executive meeting in Enugu, called on residents of the region to troop out and vote for candidates of their choice at the polls.
They alos appealed to the security agencies to create a conducive and safe environment for the general elections; while calling on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to act professionally and patriotically.
In addition, the Council called on all traditional rulers to take control of their various domains during the upcoming election for peaceful, free and credible elections to take place.
The communique was jointly signed by their Chairman, Igwe Lawrence Agubuzu of Enugu State, the Obi of Onitsha and Chairman of Anambra State Council of Traditional Rulers, Igwe Alfred Achebe, as well as his Abia State counterpart, Eze Joseph Nwabeke.