By Henry Umoru, Vincent Ujumadu, Levinus Nwabughiogu & Dirisu Yakubu
ABUJA—Nnamdi Kanu, Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, insisted, yesterday, that the attack on the former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, in Nuremberg, Germany, was a ‘courageous act’ and ‘polite warning.’
Reacting in his official Twitter handle, Kanu said: “The courageous act by IPOB at Nürnberg, Germany, is a polite warning to those engaged in selling our collective interest to Fulani caliphate. Nwodo (Ohanaeze Ndigbo president, Nnia Nwodo), Igbo governors are warned.”
Meanwhile, strong reactions, yesterday, trailed the attack on the former Deputy Senate President, with the Federal Government and House of Representatives describing the development as an embarrassment to Nigeria.
The House went further to say it was contemplating a legislation to protect politically exposed Nigerians abroad.
Similarly, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan; his deputy, Ovie Omo-Agege; Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, South East Professionals Forum of All Progressives Congress, APC; Senate Chief Whip, Orji Uzor Kalu, and Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, also described the attack on Ekweremadu as not only shameful but also unedifying of the Igbo race.
Reacting through the Nigerians In Diaspora Commission, NIDCOM, the Federal Government condemned the attack, describing it as an embarrassment to the country.
It’s shameful — FG
In a statement in Abuja, the Chairman of NIDCOM, Mrs AbiKe Dabiri-Erewa, said: “It is also shamefully pathetic that an event, which was nobly put together by the Ndi-Igbo community whose members make up the majority of Nigerians living in Germany, ended up in such a disgraceful manner.”
She noted that the event was to provide a forum for the ‘Diasporans’ and various stakeholders to network and facilitate a better cooperation between German and Nigerian businesses, disclosing that some of the culprits who perpetrated the act had been apprehended.
Dabiri-Erewa called on the German government and law enforcement agencies to ensure that there were consequences for the actions of the culprits.
She also appealed to Nigerians to be of good behavior wherever they found themselves, saying such unruly incidents tarnish the image of the country.
House of Reps Committee reacts
In its reaction, the House of Representatives said it was contemplating a legislation to protect politically exposed people abroad.
Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Buba Yakub, who made the disclosure in a statement he personally signed yesterday, hinted that the House upon resumption in September, would thoroughly investigate the matter.
He urged the Nigerian Ambassador to Germany, Yusuf Maitama Tugger, to immediately probe the issue, with a view to bringing the perpetrators to book.
The statement read: “I, as most concerned Nigerians and others across the globe, have followed with utmost concern and worry the treatment meted out on Senator Ike Ekweremadu in far away Nuremberg, Germany, where he had, on the invitation of his people, gone to attend the Second Igbo Cultural Festival of Iri Ji (New Yam festival) in that part of Europe as a distinguished guest of honour.
“Senator Ekweremadu, an accomplished scholar in the legal profession and political leader of high standing in society, is one of our longest serving senators, who had also in the last 12 years until June this year, held sway as the Deputy President of the Senate.
‘’Before joining the Senate, he was also Secretary to Enugu State Government and had before then served in various capacities in that state.
“Given the high personality profile and the public service record which Senator Ekweremadu parades, it is unthinkable that any individual or group anywhere in the world, let alone his very own people in the Diaspora, who ought to know better, should contemplate and carry out the despicable public act of shame that was brought upon a well-respected national leader of Sen.Ekweremadu’s stature before the glare of the entire global community in Germany.
“I, therefore, in very strong terms, condemn in its entirety the action of the group of Igbo people, alleged to be members of the outlawed IPOB, that had attacked Senator Ike Ekweremadu in Nuremberg, Germany on Saturday, August 17.
‘’I also wish to join other Nigerians and leaders to call on the Nigerian Ambassador to Germany, Amb.Yusuf Maitama Tugger, to make good his promise to investigate and bring to book everyone who was part of that dastardly assault on a serving national leader.
“On my part, I promise to lead the House Committee on Foreign Affairs which I currently chair, and, indeed, other members of the House, who have since yesterday continued to call in to express their indignation against the act, to move a motion on the floor of the House and to call for broader investigations on the matter, with a view to decisively dealing with all those involved and seeking protection for the politically-exposed persons on foreign trips and assignments in foreign jurisdictions.
“While conceding that it is the right of any group or individual to protest against a perceived wrong done to them in every democratic set-up like ours, it goes without saying that there is a limit to the extent any protest can go.
“It ceases to be a protest, for instance, when those involved in such a protest begin to make attempts on life or endanger the rights of others to peaceful and lawful assembly as we saw in the case at Nuremberg, Germany. As law-abiding people, we must have a recourse to civility and proper ways of doing things at all times.”
It’s unnecessary — PDP
Similarly, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, condemned the attack on Ekweremadu, saying it was unnecessary.
PDP in a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, noted that the attack on the lawmaker was uncalled for, unprovoked and could not be justified under any guise whatsoever, adding that the development portrayed the nation in bad light.
The statement read: “The PDP charges the Nigerian Ambassador to Germany as well as the German government to take appropriate decisive action on the matter.”
The party also urged the Federal Government, particularly the National Assembly to take urgent, comprehensive step to address issues leading to acts of resentment and agitations by Nigerians within and outside the country in the last four years.
Not in Igbo character—S-East APC youths
Reacting in a similar manner, the South East APC Young Progressives Forum said the attack on Ekweremadu by IPOB was not in the character of the Igbo.
Leader of the group, Comrade Otimkpu Paschal, said it was against Igbo’s core values and respect for elders for IPOB members to treat Ekweremadu in a disdainful manner.
He said: “This is barbaric and unacceptable. The incident was an embarrassment to the Igbo nation and the country at large.
“It is also shamefully pathetic that an event, which was nobly put together by the Igbo community, whose members make up the majority of Nigerians living in Germany, ended up in such a disgraceful manner. Obviously, this is not how to repay a man who has contributed his quota to nation-building.
“Irrespective of political affiliation, Senator Elweremadu is an outstanding leader in Enugu and Nigeria and an unpretentious Igbo leader.
“We may not agree with him politically because of differences in parties, but this is the highest insult on Igbo leaders. The last time, it was former Governor Rochas Okorocha at Chetham’s House, London. Today, it is Senator Ike Ekweremadu.
“It is most worrisome and even inconceivable that the attackers chose a great occasion where our people were celebrating and showcasing our rich cultural heritage (the New Yam Festival) to exhibit such unbecoming and condemnable conduct in the name of agitation.”
Lawan, Omo-Agege react
Also, the Senate president, Ahmad Lawan and his deputy, Ovie Omo-Agege, condemned the attack, describing it as not only a dastardly exportation of irrationality, but also an aggressive international affront against the image of Igbo and Nigeria.
In Separate statements, yesterday, in Abuja, both Lawan and Omo-Agege called on the German authorities and Nigeria Embassy in Germany to bring the masterminds to book.
Lawan in a statement by his Special Adviser, Media, Ola Awoniyi said: “It is incredibly absurd for anybody to blame the distinguished senator for the violent criminal activities in his home base, the purported reason cited by the mob for the bewildering attack.
“Senator Ekweremadu, like all his distinguished colleagues in the Ninth Assembly of the Senate, is concerned about the insecurity and other challenges in that area and other parts of Nigeria. Senator Ekweremadu has also been in the forefront of the patriotic efforts to find lasting solutions to the challenges.
“The barbaric attack on Senator Ekweremadu at a forum to which he was invited to contribute to charting a course for the progress and happiness of Ndigbo debases our values as civilised people. It is most reprehensible and should be condemned by all right-thinking Nigerians.”
The President of the Senate, who urged the German authorities to identify those involved in the despicable act so the law could take its course, called on Nigerians to always reflect deeply and broadly before embarking on a course of action and advised the youth to ventilate whatever grievances they had along lines prescribed by the law and recommended by reason and democratic ethos.
On his part, Senator Omo- Agege in a statement by his Special, Media and Publicity, Yomi Odunuga, expressed shock over the undeserved assault and called on law enforcement agencies in Germany to investigate and bring to book all those involved in the vicious attack.
He said: “Senator Ekweremadu honoured the invitation of patriotic Igbo in Germany who wanted him to deliver a keynote address at the event organized to commemorate the New Yam Festival but some aggressively discourteous elements hijacked the effort to perpetrate a disgraceful assault that seeks to deepen the portrayal of members of the Independent People of Biafra, IPOB, as enemies of democratic norms and values in which the majority must always have its way after the minority must have had its due say in all matters.
“What they did is not only a violent assault against the good image of the Igbo race across the world but an aggressive attack against the traditional norms of a people known to be hardworking and respectful of meaningful contributions by leaders such as Senator Ekweremadu.
“Such disappointing physical abuse also grossly disregards Senator Ekweremadu’s democratic antecedents and his long-standing commitment to the cause of his people. But, as he has said out of the usual largeness of his forgiving heart, these people know not what they do.
“Such criminal attack, along with other anti-social attempt to accuse, condemn and lynch anyone remains utterly condemnable and illegal, notwithstanding whether it takes place on Nigerian or foreign soil as it is the easiest invitation to anomie.”
It’s uncivilised — Orji Kalu
In his reaction, Senate Chief Whip and former Abia State governor, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, condemned in very strong terms the attack on Ekweremadu.
Kalu in a statement yesterday, described the action of the mob as uncivilized, unacceptable and barbaric, and urged Ndigbo to respect leaders at all levels.
He also called on the Nigerian Embassy in Germany to urgently bring to book the masterminds of the ugly incident to serve as deterrent to others.
He said: “After watching a viral video of the physical attack on former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweramadu, I was not only disappointed but irritated and disturbed with the action of some members of IPOB.
“The assault on the senator is a slap on Igbo leaders regardless of age, party affiliation and religion. The perpetrators of the uncivilized act must face the wrath of the law.
“Senator Ekweramadu is not only one of the Igbo leaders but also a prominent Nigerian and as such should be accorded due respect by all and sundry at home and abroad.
“For the South East to move forward, the people of the region must embrace dialogue as a way of resolving pertinent issues and eschew violence.’’
It’s sacrilegious — Abaribe
Reacting in a similar manner, Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Abia South, described the attack on Ekweremadu as reprehensible and utterly sacrilegious.
In a statement yesterday in Abuja, Abaribe said the attack smacks off of utter ignorance of the prevailing situation at home with regards to what the leaders were doing in the circumstance.
Abaribe said he and the entire minority caucus in the Senate were appalled by the very nauseating attack on Ekweremadu.
“We condemn it. It is a brazen show of ingratitude to a man who has been in the forefront of the struggle for all that is good for the Igbo race.”
Abaribe described Ekweremadu as one who had given his all in standing for the Igbo race, particularly when “we stuck out our neck to arrange and stand for surety for the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu.
He said: “Obviously, this is not how to repay a man, an outstanding leader of men, an unpretentious Igbo leader who has given his all, even going as far as deploying his means to arrange for the bail of Nnamdi Kanu, not minding the repercussions to his illustrious political career.
“It is unfortunate. The perpetrators of the attack should know that as Igbo, we respect elders and reverence our leaders. The unwaranted attack is not the character of the Igbo. This is un-Igbo. It is most worrisome and even inconceivable that the attackers will choose an auspicious occasion where our people are celebrating and showcasing our rich culture to exhibit such unbecoming and condemnable conduct in the name of agitation.
“No, that was not agitation, no right thinking human will identify with such behaviour. Yes, Nigeria is going through a horrendous phase, which is a fault line that her leaders, particularly we the Igbo leaders are engaging others to find a lasting solution to.
“Resorting to mob mentality and venting the spleen on our leaders rather create a vacuum that will leave our people helpless and confused in the circumstance.”
Senator Abaribe noted that there were rules of engagement in the country when things go awry, adding that was the way “we should go at all times, until we reach an acceptable national consensus in which Senator Ekweremadu will always play a major role.
“Remember the popular Igbo saying…”Gbuo dike, Gbuo dike, ngbe ihe ike mere achowa dike”.
He appealed to Senator Ekweremadu not to be discouraged in any way, but rather be stoic and take it in its stride as the price often paid in leadership.