The deluge of reactions trailing the attack in Germany of the immediate past Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, was not only spontaneous but saw senators united in their condemnation of the incident. Taiye Odewale reports.
When the news filtered out three days ago on the social media, specifically last Saturday afternoon, that the immediate past Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, was physically assaulted in Nuremberg, Germany at a public function, many people dismissed it as another fake news.
One of those who first reacted that way was the media aide to Ekweremadu himself, Uche Anichukwu, who on telephone conversation advised members of the Senate Press Corps to disregard the story.
But hours after, when the video of the attack went viral on the social media and kept on trending, Anichukwu not only admitted the veracity of the story but also pushed out a personally written statement by Ekweremadu himself, owning up to the attack.
Ekweremadu says yes
Narrating the incident through his social media handle, @iamekweremdu, he said: “I attended the Second Annual Cultural Festival and Convention organised by Ndi-Igbo Germany in Nurnberg today (Saturday) where I was billed to give a keynote address along with the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, who, however, could not make it eventually.
“I was given a resounding welcome by Ndigbo in Germany and everything went smoothly until some men, who identified themselves as IPOB members, stormed the venue and began to complain about the killings in the South East, stressing that there would be no Igbo event at the venue.
“I tried to engage them, but when they became unruly, I had to leave the venue. The organisers also invited the police and I was accompanied out of the venue.
“Much as I am disappointed in their conduct, especially as I am one of the persons, who have spoken up on justice for Ndigbo, the Python Dance, judicial killings in Igbo land and elsewhere both on the floor of the Senate and in my written and personal engagements with the Presidency and the media as well as rallied the South East Senate Caucus to secure Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s release with Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe taking him on bail to douse tension in the South East, I nevertheless do not hold this to heart against them, for they know not what they do.
“I have received thousands of solidarity calls and messages from well meaning Ndigbo. I want to assure them that I am hail and hearty. I have also spoken with the Nigerian Ambassador to Germany, Ambassador Yusuf Tuggar”.
First to react to the ugly incident on official template after Ekweremadu’s explanations, was the chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Hon Abike Dabiri-Erewa, in a personally signed statement.
Dabiri-Erewa in the statement not only condemned in strong terms, the actions of the alleged IPOB boys but also called on the German security operatives to get them arrested and prosecuted.
“The incident is an embarrassment to the country. According to reliable sources, some of the culprits, who perpetrated the act, have been apprehended and we call on the German government and law enforcement agencies to ensure that there are consequences for their actions.
“It is also shamefully pathetic that an event which was nobly put together by the Ndi-Igbo community in Germany whose members make up the majority of Nigerians living in Germany, to amongst other things provide a forum for the Diasporans and various stakeholders to network and to facilitate a better cooperation between German and Nigerian businesses, ended up in such a disgraceful manner.
“We appeal to Nigerians to be of good behavior wherever they find themselves because such incidents tarnish the image of the country”, she said.
Apparently being a serving Senator, condemnations on the attack on Ekweremadu took torrential dimension on Sunday from both the leadership of the Ninth Senate and individual Senators.
Leading the pack in the condemnations, was the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan who in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ola Awoniyi said: “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 debase our values as civilised people.
“It is most reprehensible and should be condemned by all right-thinking Nigerians”.
Omo- Agege in his own reaction through a separate statement said the attack was not only a dastardly exportation of irrationality but an aggressive international affront against the image of the Igbo and Nigeria.
He 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.
“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 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,” he said.
Enyinnaya Abaribe in his own reaction, described as reprehensible and utterly sacrilegious the attack on Ekweremadu by some persons claiming to be members of IPOB in Nuremberg, Germany.
According to him, the attack is not only a despicable act, but smacks of utter ignorance of the prevailing situation at home with regards to what the leaders are doing on issues agitating the minds of the attackers.
“It is a brazen show of ingratitude to a man who has been at the fore front in the struggle for all that is good for the Igbo race”, he said.
The attack according to the Chief Whip of the Senate, Orji Uzor Kalu, in a personally signed statement, was irritating, barbaric and unacceptable.
His words: “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”.
Obviously for Ekweremadu , the attack was more or less , a thumb up for his image while it is thumb down for the Nnamdi Kanu led IPOB.