Chief John Nwodo, President General of the umbrella body of Ndigbo Worldwide, the Ohanaeze, has condemned the arrest of members of the women wing of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
The women – 112 of them – were arrested after they protested in Owerri, the Imo State capital, demanding a referendum and the whereabouts of Nnamdi Kanu.
The women were charged to court for "unlawful assembly" and "treasonable felony", and were eventually released on Friday, after the charges against them were dropped.
In a statement on Saturday, Nwodo, who is recuperating abroad following a mild surgery, described the arrest of the women as an action based on “double standards”, noting that “Boko Haram loot, plunder, kidnap but the government negotiates with them, spending unappropriated and undisclosed sums! Yet IPOB is proscribed for just speaking up. Arewa youths spoke treason and were defended by Governors and treated with privilege!”
He commended the judiciary for allowing “respect for human rights to prevail” and urged the Imo State Government to "demonstrate restraint" in the future.
His words: "I salute the courage of the Imo State judiciary and the professionalism of the State Attorney General. Never again shall we Igbos, at this critical time, shoot ourselves again on the foot. No matter how provocative, incendiary and unruly IPOB may be, they are our children. Aggrieved children can sometimes lose their guard.
“While they are proscribed, Fulani herdsmen and their sponsors, Miyetti Allah move about freely, reeling out new threats, occupying Southern and Middle Belt farms forcibly, with the law enforcement agents either aiding them or intentionally looking away. Churches are invaded, priests killed, yet no one is arrested. Thousands are killed; thousands are rendered homeless, no one cares. IDPS are established only when the displaced come from a favoured section of the country.
“No wonder our security chiefs are appointed on the basis of where they come from. Any Igbos who is not angry at the situation in the country today must have his head reexamined. Now, they contemplate Operation Python Dance 3 without dealing with the carnage of Operation Python Dance 2 where UN rules of engagement were flagrantly violated. Who won't be angry under these circumstances?
"The provocation, double standards, and subjection to servitude far outweigh the denigration their false propaganda subject us to.”
He ended the statement by calling on the authorities not to test the people’s patience, stating that "may our endurance not be stretched to the point where it challenges Hooke's law on elastic limit".