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Igbo leaders under fire … For sitting on the fence while the South-East burns

By Our Correspondents

Igbo leaders have been criticized for keeping quiet while their people are facing unprecedented harassment, exploitation and marginalization daily in the country.
A Christian Voice survey, recently, revealed that a cross-section of the masses are embittered that all these would happen and prominent Igbo leaders do not raise a voice against those who perpetuate these evil acts.
Some respondents were particularly irked by the growing number of road blocks mounted on the major-roads in the South East many of which they feel are needless.
Speaking to our reporter, an Owerri-based businessman, Mazi Ikechukwu Chinagoro, said that the security checkpoints that were manned by the police and other security agencies usually interrupt their journeys as they traverse the nooks and crannies of the South East while doing their business.
He said that most of the security men at the checkpoints, rather than deal with matters bothering on security of the area, resort to exploiting road-users who are forced to part with sums of money as “settlement” before they pass through the road blocks.
According to him, his recent trip to Orlu, from Owerri, a 25-kilometre stretch, revealed about seven road blocks where every commercial bus driver must part with some money for easy passage.
The security men, he said, subject private vehicle owners to scrutiny lasting too long just to make them part with huge sums of money before they are allowed to continue their journey.
Chinagoro said that this exploitation hinders business and impoverishes the people of the zone.
Also speaking, Pastor Iyke Osinachi said that apart from the Senators, other prominent Igbo leaders kept quiet.
“No one has made representation to the government, both federal and state, over the side-lining of the entire South East in the multi-billion naira rail lines planned by the government and to be financed with a Chinese loan that would be repaid by all the states”.
“Are we really Nigerians or are we slaves in our own country”?  the pastor asked.
A civil servant who did not mention his name, said that in his home town, Irete, near Owerri, capital of Imo State, herdsmen have continued to destroy crops and attack those who dared to challenge them.
“Yet our leaders keep quiet”.  It is not only in my town.  It is happening in Ngor Okpala”, he said.
Writing in his column Hard Facts in the Daily Sun newspaper, a prominent lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome, expressed shock that the Igbos were not speaking up against the “apparent siege laid on their land by uniformed persons of different categories.
According to him, they ranged from  police, civil defenc, customs, FRSC and others.  He narrated his experience in a recent journey across the  region, concluding that “the entire Igbo land is locked down in a physical, psychological and mental siege, reminiscent of the civil war time”.
“As you are crossing one checkpoint, a mere look ahead of you, of less than half a kilometer will reveal another barricade.  It is all so frustrating.  There is no war or security breach.  South East is not North East where Boko Haram is still fighting”, Ozekhome wrote, adding that the “armada” of security in the five states making up the South East cannot be found in the Boko Haram ravaged region and only portrays the South East as a conquered territory”.
“Our leader should speak up now and save the race from the present sufferings and marginalisation”, Chukwu O. Chukwu am Owerri-based businessman added.

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