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FG, South-East leaders reject agitation for secession, reiterate commitment to unity of Nigeria

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A Federal Government delegation on Friday met the governors of the five states of the South-East and other stakeholders to address the security challenges in the country.

The Minister of Defence, Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi (retd), led the federal government’s team to the meeting which took place at the Enugu State Government House.

Also in the federal government’s delegation were the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, and the service chiefs.

The governors at the meeting were Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Hope Uzodinma (Imo), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), and Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia).

Anambra State was represented by the Deputy Governor, Dr. Nkem Okeke.

The Senate Minority Leader,  Enyinnaya Abaribe; Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development,  Uchechukwu Ogah; President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Prof. George Obiozor; former Senate President,  Ken Nnamani; ex-Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweramadu; Deputy Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Toby Okechukwu; Speaker of Enugu State House of Assembly, Edward Ubosi; former Governor of old Enugu State, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo and Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyawu, among others were also at the meeting.

Magashi, who addressed journalists at the end of the meeting, said the delegation would brief President Muhammadu Buhari on the outcome of the meeting.

He said the forum agreed that there were fundamental problems in the region and discussed strategies on how to tackle the challenges.

According to him, some of the major problems in the region include farmer/herdsmen conflicts and issues of marginalization.

The minister said: “The issues particularly the problem of marginalization is well documented and further discussion will continue after we have met with Mr. President. The governors will also articulate the grievances so that we can have further discussion on them.

READ ALSO: South-East leaders pledge commitment to an indivisible Nigeria

“We appreciate our discussions. We are most humbled and I think each one of us; the governors, the elders, and the religious leaders were able to say one or two things.

“We would put our heads together to see that peace and stability of this nation are brought back to normalcy in no distance time.”

Umahi, who is the Chairman of the South-East Governors Forum, restated the leaders’ commitment to national unity.

He said the commitment of the federal government towards addressing all the issues relating to the herdsmen in the South-East is very important.

He added that the governors have agreed to articulate all the grievances and concerns of the people of the South-East, saying “we are happy that there is genuine willingness for further dialogue on such issues.”

The governor said: “We discussed the ban on open grazing and of course this delegation is in support of this ban on open grazing. We also informed the delegation that each state in the South-East has laws in this respect.

“We are committed to one united Nigeria; we have always mentioned this. All our leaders are committed to this and that is why we read it everywhere, a united Nigeria of fairness, equity, and equality of freedom, and this we have further expressed.

“Those who dish out hate speeches from our region, threat of violence or secession do not speak for South-East. I repeat, we the South-East people are not for secession, we don’t support it; we don’t call for it.

“We condemn the killings of security men and innocent people in the South-East and the governors are doing everything possible to ensure the safety of our people. We are supporting the security agencies. We finally appeal to our people to continue to engage our youths to eschew violence.”

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