Igbo group summons Uwazuruike, threatens punishment

Ralph Uwazuruike

Barely one week after endorsing Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State for the Presidency ahead of the 2023 general elections, the leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, Chief Ralphael Uwazuruike, has been summoned by the Igbo Elders Consultative Forum to explain his alleged decision to betray Igbo cause for the Presidency, Saturday PUNCH has learnt.

Sources said the MASSOB leader had agreed to appear before the Igbo elders to give reasons why he should not be punished for his action.

Uwazuruike had last Saturday thrown his weight behind the presidential aspiration of Bello, saying he did not believe in zoning and power rotation.

He spoke when he led some South-East youths on a solidarity march in Owerri, Imo State capital, in support of Bello’s bid.

The youths were said to have marched through the streets, carrying different placards, with inscriptions such as ‘Power to the Youths’, ‘Support Yahaya Bello’, ‘Youths Can Also Lead’, and ‘Yahaya Bello for the Youths’, among others.

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According to Uwazuruike, if Nigeria’s sovereignty must be upheld, zoning should be discarded.

He argued that the contest should be thrown open and advised party leaders to shun zoning “as it has no place in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

He said, “I don’t believe in the idea of zoning system or Igbo president because zoning means sectionalism.

“If we want to talk about Nigeria, we must throw the presidential contest open but if you throw it open, it must be for the youths, not elders, because the elders have failed us.”

When contacted, a source in IECF, said Uwazuruike had agreed to honour the invitation of Igbo elders.

The source said, “Anyway, we are handling it, we have invited him for questioning and he has agreed to come and he may face serious punishment if he doesn’t show remorse and give valid defence.

“A former governor of old Anambra State, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife, and former chairman of Police Service Commission, Simon Okeke, popularly called Ochendo, were the persons who went and released Uwazuruike from prison. They are the leaders of IECF; they brought him out from prison. He has agreed to appear before the Igbo elders.”

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Uwazuruike’s endorsement of Bello had elicited heated responses from the South-East.

The President-General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council, Mazi Okwu Nnabuike, stated that Uwazurike’s action was not a surprise as he had, in the past, abandoned the Biafra project.

Nnabuike noted that Uwazurike’s action came as a shock to Ndigbo at a time the South-East was pushing for a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction.

The Ohanaeze youth leader, who was angry over the development, described Uwazurike as “an unwanted person, a serial betrayer and a man who has completely lost a sense of history.”

He had said, “We pity those who find anything meaningful in Uwazurike, a man who was dethroned as MASSOB leader because of the same reason. We know how he abandoned the struggle in the past and was rewarded for betraying the same course he was pursuing. Uwazurike has, long ago, lost relevance in Igbo land and he knows it.”

Attempts to get Uwazuruike’s reaction were unsuccessful, as several phone calls, SMS and WhatsApp messages sent to him were not replied.

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