Worried about the recent events happening in the country with particular concern on the relationship between the Igbo and Hausa, Governor Rochas Okorocha, his Kaduna and Bauchi States’ counterparts, Mallam Nasir El Rufai and Alhaji Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar, and the National Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, on Tuesday met with the leaders of Ohanaeze Ndi-Igbo led by its President-General, Chief Gary Igariway, in Owerri, Imo State.
THISDAY gathered that their discussions centred on the beheaded woman in Kano, the issue of herdsmen and the unity of the country.
The meeting had come after the visiting governors and APC National Chairman had attended the achievements presentation ceremony of Okorocha in the past five years, Monday night, with the governors, Oyegun and Ohaneze leaders speaking their minds on the disturbing issues of the Igbo woman, Mrs. Bridget Mike Agbahime, who killed in Kano, the herdsmen and the need to see those behind these unlawful acts as criminals and also as common enemies of the nation and her people.
In his speech at the meeting, el-Rufai said that the governors from the northern part of the country condemn totally the murder of the Igbo woman in Kano, and that the matter should be treated as a case of murder while those responsible must be brought to face the wrath of the law.
He said: “We will not accept a situation where people either Christians or Muslims hide under the umbrella of religion to commit crime. If someone had insulted God, the person should be left for God to take care of. I have advised the Kano governor to publicly deal with the people involved to serve as a deterrent to others.”
He continued: “I thank Ohanaeze for choosing the path of peace and unity. People are now using religion as a tool to divide and even defraud people. That necessitated the introduction of religion bill in Kaduna so that people can be stopped from using divisive languages in the name of religion.”
On the issue of the herdsmen, he said: “It is a problem that is affecting the whole nation. It is not a case of Fulani invading other tribes but a criminal activity that must be nipped in the bud. In pure Fulani communities, the herdsmen are equally attacking them in numbers, doing all kinds of ugly things like kidnapping, armed robbery, rape etc.”
On Okorocha, the Kaduna State governor said: “Okorocha should be commended for his vision, achievements and Nigerianess. His vision of going to APC at the time he did redeemed the Igbos from going into political oblivion. He is one of the few political leaders who saw tomorrow, and whose entry into the merger that brought APC was strategic.”
In his own remarks at the meeting the Bauchi State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar said “the killing of the woman in Kano was an evil act. I had liaised with the Kano governor and he assured that arrest has been made and those responsible will face the full weight of the law.”
On the herdsmen problem, he said: “The problem has been in the North over the years and its occurrence in the South should not be seen as an act of invasion but a criminal act that must be treated as such, adding that the traditional Nigeria Fulani herdsmen are not known to be criminally minded, but because of the country’s porous borders, herdsmen from other African nations especially after the fall of Libya found their way into the country and they are the ones committing these crimes.”
The APC National Chairman, Oyegun in his contribution, said there were proofs that most of these crimes are being committed by foreigners and gave an instance of a Revd father in Benin who was kidnapped and out of the number of those involved in his abduction only one was a Nigerian and the rest were foreigners, adding that the nation has to rise to face these challenges squarely.
He commended the leadership of Ohanaeze for their maturity in handling some of these sensitive issues.
President-General of Ohanaeze, Igariway, had earlier in his speech, expressed satisfaction with the way the governor of Kano State is handling the case of the Igbo woman beheaded in his State, and cautioned against inciting statements from leaders.
He commended the goodwill demonstrated by the Kaduna and Bauchi State Governors.
The host, Governor Okorocha said the killing of the woman in Kano State was an outright case of murder and has nothing to do with tribe or religion because what is criminal is criminal and must be treated as specified by law, adding that seventy percent of Nigeria’s problems could be adjudged to have arisen from lack of communication.
He said with what the governors said: “It could now be understood that the Kano incident was not an attack against Ndi-Igbo but a case of crime. It is also pertinent for us to know that the wonderful bridge that connects the Igbo to the North is not faulty. The bridge is as strong as it has ever been. The Igbos must fortify this bridge for both economic and political reasons.”
Meanwhile, the Senate yesterday vehemently condemned the recent killing of a woman, Mrs. Bridget Agbahime, in Kano over alleged blasphemy and called on the federal government to apprehend and adequately punish culprits of the act.
Mrs. Agbahime was reportedly killed by some Islamic fundamentalists over alleged blasphemy, an action which had attracted widespread condemnations across the country.
The Senate’s motion followed a point of order raised by Senator Samuel Anyanwu (Imo East), during which he bemoaned the act, describing it as a clear and barbaric violation of the principle of sanctity of human life.
Anyanwu who commended Kano State Governor Abdullahi Ganduje and the state’s commissioner of police for promptly arresting the culprits, saying he would serve as a deterrent to others. He however, warned against sweeping the matter under the carpet.
He said: “I think it should go beyond that it should go beyond that. We do not want a situation where someone is being detained today after a period of time we would not hear about that mater.
“The worst thing that could happen to a man is for his wife to be killed right before him. I think this Senate should rise and condemn this kind of act. We are one Nigeria and we all believe in one Nigeria and we want to respect our religious affiliations in this country.”
In his remarks, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu who presided over the plenary, charged the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, and other relevant agencies of government to ensure the culprits are prosecuted.
He also said it was the responsibility of the government to protect lives and property. “Government must ensure protection of lives and properties of all Nigerians at all times in whatever circumstances,” he said.
Ekweremadu lamented the incessant spate of killings in Nigeria, saying they are embarrassing.
“Let me on behalf of the Senate express our condolences to the family and to the people of your constituency, the entire Imo State and indeed the entire Nigerians.
“This is because every soul matters to us as Nigerians. The rate of killing in Nigeria is becoming very embarrassing. We must do everything as leaders to protect lives and properties of the citizens of this country: every life matters to us so we cannot continue on the path of diminishing human life.
“It is the responsibility of security agencies to ensure that every Nigerian is protected wherever he lives. To ensure that this doesn’t happen again, every effort must be made to fish out those responsible so that they will face the full wrath of the law,” he added.