By Joe Nwankwo, Assistant Editor, Abuja
As the threat by the Northern Elders (NEF) to drag former Chief of Army Staff, General Onyeabor Ihejirika, to the International Criminal Court (ICC) over allegations of human rights violations continues to elicit comments, the South East/South South Coalition and South East Peoples Assembly (SEPA) have said the threat is cheap blackmail that will never work.
In a statement on Thursday in Abuja, signed Elvis Agukwe, Chancellor, SEPA, and Ambassador Kem Ajieh, the groups said the threat, coming immediately after the exit of Ihejirika and other Service Chiefs, only revealed the sentiments of the elders for Boko Haram.
According to the statement, “their threat of prosecution of General Ihejirika must be a joke taken too far.
“General Ihejirika deserves commendation for selfless services to the nation and not condemnation. Some people must learn to be civil in this country and stop making unguarded statements that could cause bad blood among citizens.
“Ihejirika must not be blackmailed or intimidated for performing his legal duty to the nation. Igbo children were visited with Kwashiokor during the war.
“Pregnant women and innocent civilians were brutally and dastardly massacred during the war and even after the war by Northerners and nothing happened”, they added.
The groups further stated that “General Ihejirika is our beloved son in whom we are well pleased and so, we shall resist any attempt to bring him to disrepute by any group of persons.
But despite the wide criticisms that had followed the threat of the Northern elders, the body (NEF) has forged ahead with its plan by seeking the co-operation of Borno Elders’ Forum (BEF), which was excited with the plan to drag Ihejirika and other military top brass to the ICC.
The NEF spokesperson, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, told journalists at the end of a meeting in Abuja on Thursday, that it would soon hold a parley with the BEF, which had been having its own discussion on the issue for sometime now.
The meeting, it was gathered, was to receive the report of its committee on security and legal issues, comprising retired military brass of northern extraction, such as the former General Officer Commanding 3 Division, Gen. Sale Maina; former Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Alwali Kazir, and former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Al-Amin Daggash.