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Igbo leaders urge Nigerian govt to demilitarise South East, embrace dialogue

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Igbo Elders Consultative Forum (IECF) has called on the Federal Government to immediately demilitarise the South-East and embrace dialogue to resolve any security threat to Saturday’s governorship election in Anambra State.

The chairman of the forum and former governor of Anambra State, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, said movement from one city to another in Igboland has become a nightmare, as police and military checkpoints are all over the place.

Addressing reporters in Abuja, on Tuesday, Ezeife maintained that embracing dialogue would facilitate the peace process and restoration of normalcy in the region.

Also, he demanded the immediate release of over 5,000 Igbo youths arrested by security agencies on the suspicion of being members of the Eastern Security network (ESN), the militia arm of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

Read also: Journalists locked out as Buhari meets Igbo leaders in Imo

His words: “We call upon the Federal Government to demilitarise the South East, as well as take other necessary administrative and non-kinetic measures to restore peace in the zone, thus paving way for smooth conduct of the Anambra election.

“Similarly, the Federal Government should immediately release over 5,000 Igbo youths arrested by security agencies, and dumped in different detention camps in various parts of the country under dehumanising conditions in the name of unknown gunmen, IPOB, ESN, among others, to facilitate peace process and restoration of normalcy in the South East. A political solution through the instrumentality of dialogue with all relevant stakeholders is key to the present security imbroglio in the South East.”

Meanwhile, Ezeife warned the people of the state against boycotting the Anambra poll, noting that doing so would be counter-productive and might give victory to an unpopular candidate.

“The consequences of not voting will be unimaginable because people, who do not wish us well, would use that opportunity to impose any unpatriotic element on us as a governor. All hands must be on deck to ensure that the Anambra election is not only free, fair and credible but also seen by all as meeting all necessary standards,” he said.

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