▪ Enugu govt silent on attack on prominent indigene; Embassy says attackers will be tried under German laws
Senator Ike Ekweremadu has returned to Abuja after he suffered a physical attack by members of the Indigenous Peoples Of Biafra (IPOB) at a cultural festival held in Nuremberg, Germany.
His attackers at the New Yam Festival were subsequently arrested, amid talks of plans to deport them, but there has been no official confirmation either from the German end. One knowledgeable source simply said, “Not yet”, when Nigeria Everyday reached him on the much-talked about deportation.
On Channels TV, a spokesman of the Nuremberg Police, Rainer Seebauer, seemed to suggest that no arrests were made.
Ekweremadu told journalists at the Abuja airport he has personally forgiven his attackers, describing them as ‘misdirected, ‘misguided’ individuals, who were not representative of Nigerians.
Ekweremadu advised Nigerians, including Nigerian and Igbo leaders, to feel free to travel to any part of the world they wished to, maintaining that the attitude of his assailants did not represent the dispositions and behaviour of Nigerians in the diaspora.
“I think they were just people, who were misdirected and misguided. I had the feeling they were under the influence of alcohol. They don’t represent the feelings of our people. There is nothing to worry about.
The organisers, the Igbo in Germany, have written a letter apologising for what happened. Everybody is free to go anywhere because those ones don’t represent the behaviour of Nigerians abroad.
“For me, I have moved on. The government and authorities of Germany are free to do whatever they wish about it”, he said.
On what he would do in the face of the attack by IPOB and the threats to attack more Igbo leaders, especially the governors of the South East, Ekweremadu said: “Let me just say that the leaders he (Kanu) was mentioning were responsible for getting him out of jail in the first place.
“What we will do in this circumstance is to leave him to his conscience, the verdict of history, and possibly the repercussions of ingratitude. But I hope he won’t go to the extent of attacking any of the South East leaders anywhere”.
He maintained that he had no regrets speaking of for justice for Ndigbo and helping to facilitate Kanu’s release, saying he believed in justice for all irrespective of tribe, religion or region.
“First of all, I am a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. My job is to speak out when there is injustice anywhere. We have problem in the North East. I have visited the North East. I visited the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps there. I donated money. I sent relief materials. We had problem in the South-South, I visited the creeks and saw the environmental challenges there for myself.
“I was one of the few people the late President Musa Yar’Adua consulted before he decided on the issue of amnesty. I was the person, who advised him that he needed to call a meeting of the Council of State. So, he had to invite the then Attorney General to discuss that issue with me and I advised them on the constitutional implications of amnesty.
“So, I have always spoken out on matters that concern Nigerians no matter where they come from. I believe in justice for all. It had nothing to do with IPOB”, he added.
The Nigerian Embassy in Berlin has however ruled out deportation stressing the attackers will be tried under German laws. In a statement, the embassy said: “The Embassy of Nigeria, Berlin, Germany wishes to react to viral videos of a vicious physical attack on the immediate past Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate and serving Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Ike Ekweremadu, by some members an illegal and terrorist entity named Indigenous Peoples of Biafra ( POB) in Nuremberg on 17th August 2019.
“The attack happened at an event organised by Nigerians in Germany under the auspices of a socio-cultural organisation known as Ndigbo Germany, a registered entity in the Federal Republic of Germany.
“Invitations were extended to Nigerian dignitaries, including the Distinguished Senator and Nigeria’s Ambassador to Germany, His Excellency Yusuf Maitama Tuggar.
“The Nigerian Ambassador also honoured the invitation but arrived at the venue shortly after the incident.
“The organisers reportedly requested for police protection to ensure public order during the event but were told that the threat level was minimal and did not require stationing of any personnel at the venue before the incident.
“The Embassy has requested a thorough investigation of this attack with a view to identifying the perpetrators and bringing them swiftly to justice in accordance with German law.
“This would deter future acts of violence against officials of the Nigerian Government on German soil particularly against the backdrop of threats by the proscribed IPOB to carry out similar attacks on more Nigerian dignitaries, especially those from the South Eastern part of the country.”
Not a few Enugu State indigenes continue to wonder why 48 hours after the attack on Ekweremadu, the government of his state of origin has not issued a reaction to the attack.
An analyst blamed the development on the absence of a cabinet in the State. “But it may be a function of the complex politics in the state,” said the analyst, an indigene of the State who did not want to be identified for safety reasons.
However, the Ndi-Igbo Germany, NIG, an umbrella body of Igbo people living in Germany, has tendered unreserved apology to the former Deputy President of the Senate over the weekend attack.
The group said that any embarrassment to a leading light of Ndigbo like Ekweremadu was an embarrassment to the entire Igbo race and Nigeria, vowing to ensure that the law runs its full course.
The body said the event was part of its efforts to encourage foreign investment and industrialisation of Igboland, noting that it “provided a forum for Igbo people in Diaspora to network and to engage German business community with interest in investments and development in Igboland in particular and Nigeria in general”.
In a statement on Monday signed by its leader, Engr. Ogechukwu Nsofor, the group said: “We, Ndi-Igbo Germany (N.I.G) the umbrella/apex union of all Igbo unions operating in the Federal Republic of Germany are shocked and dismayed by the unprovoked, unwarranted and senseless attack leashed on Senator Dr. Ike Ekweremadu in Nuremberg, Germany.
“Ndi-Igbo Germany, wish to offer our unequivocal apology to our special guest of honour, Senator Ike Ekweremadu – former Deputy Senate President – for the unfortunate treatment misdirected at him by members of Indigenous Peoples Of Biafra (IPOB) in Germany during the occasion of our 2nd Annual Igbo Cultural Festival and Convention 2019.
“It must be emphasised that Senator Dr. Ike Ekweremadu had nothing personal to gain in attending our cultural day. Rather the Igbo residents here in Germany lost an opportunity to tap into his reservoir of knowledge.
“No words can describe our shock, our consternation, and our sadness at this inexcusable, shameful and senseless attack. We apologise from the depths of our hearts that you had to experience such a horrible thing here in our midst. This is not how we are here. Please do not hold this incident against the 99 percent law abiding Umu-Igbo in Germany.
“Our apologies go to Ohaneze Ndi Igbo and to all well-meaning Igbo-Diasporan groups and associations both at home and abroad for this disgrace.
“We sincerely apologize to the National Assembly and indeed to our entire country for such an unwarranted assault on Senator Dr. Ike Ekweremadu by the IPOB members in Germany.
“Let this event be a rallying call to all Umu Igbo at home and worldwide to always seek unity rather than primitively turning against ourselves in senseless violence which will make neutral and friendly global nations turn away from us.
“Ndi-Igbo Germany (N.I.G) condenm in strongest terms this action by the members of IPOB in Germany against Senator Dr. Ike Ikweremadu. Ndi-Igbo Germany distances herself from any group that encourages violence, directly or indirectly.
“It is not acceptable that an Igbo man or woman would come to the occasion of an ancient Igbo traditional event like Iri-ji and not only cause commotion, but also physically attack an invited guest, a fellow Igbo brother from home and a senior Igbo elder statesman in the person of Senator Dr. Ike Ekweremadu. This is an abomination in Igbo land. And in a foreign land! Is this what we have come to in our united struggle, Ndi Igbo? A house divided against itself cannot stand.
“This single action will cost IPOB in Germany more than 70% of her hitherto sympathisers. What IPOB Germany thought in their inept, diminutive, and megalomaniac mindset as a humiliation of Senator Ekweremadu is in reality a humiliation of the Igbo race in a foreign Land.
“Finally, and on a serious note: Ndi-Igbo Germany abhors all kinds of violence. We are committed to working and cooperating with our host country Germany and with her constituted authorities.
“Ndi–Igbo Germany will let the full weight of the law take its course. As we all work together towards the redemption of Ala Igbo, let no one think that he or she has more claim to Igbo nation than the other”.