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RUGA Part2: Ohanaeze Kicks against Visa on Arrival Policy; Says it’s a Ploy to Bring back RUGA

Apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation Ohanaeze Ndigbo has faulted Federal Government’s plan to grant visas to foreigners on arrival into Nigeria. It said the move which “amounts to throwing the nation’s borders open to “foreigners with questionable characters” showed that the Federal Government was “still bent on implementing Rural Grazing Area (RUGA).”

The group, in a communique in Enugu, also claimed that the Federal Government wanted to use the “visa on arrival” policy to give advantage to a particular part of the country during future elections.

It called on the Federal Government to shelve the policy because it could aggravate the security challenges facing the country.

Ohanaeze’s position on the visa on arrival policy came hours after the Senate on Tuesday rejected its immediate implementation and invited Minister of Interior Rauf Aregbesola to explain its “technical, logistics, legal and constitutional issues.”

Some of the major issues the group listed at the end of its meeting in Enugu as not being in the interest of the nation are the siting of the nation’s military institutions only in the Northern part of the country as well as the warehousing of military armaments and strategic units also in the North.

Others are the call by the Chief Justice of Nigeria for amendment to the 1999 Constitution to include Sharia law; Federal Government’s push for a $30 billion loan; heavy presence of security men at checkpoints in the Southern part of the country and the recent attack on Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, by members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in Spain.

Ohanaeze Ndigbo alleged in the communiqué by the Special Adviser to the President-General of the organisation,Chief Emeka Attamah, that the siting of military institutions in the North was a deliberate move to have people from a particular ethnic group and religion as heads of security forces and agencies.

The group said the action was contrary to the provisions of extant laws which stipulated that the establishment of such institutions must be balanced.

On the $30 billion loan now being debated by the National Assembly, Ohanaeze Ndigbo warned that generations unborn would pay dearly for the “reckless borrowing” of current leaders if not jettisoned.

Ohanaeze asked that the many checkpoints be dismantled because security agencies used them to extort and humiliate a section of the country.

The communiqué reads: ” Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, has, in the interest of the security of Nigeria, called on the Federal Government to rescind its decision to throw open the borders of the country to immigrants without visas.

“The National Executive Council (NEC) meeting on Tuesday, December 17, 2019, in Enugu, decried the unprecedented national decision that would occasion massive entry of foreigners, some with questionable characters into the country.

“NEC noted that such unchecked and unregulated influx into the country will further aggravate the security challenges facing the country.

“Ohanaeze Ndigbo states that the action tends to give credence to the suspicion that the Federal Government is still bent on implementing the RUGA programme and also to give a particular ethnic group undue advantage in subsequent elections in the country.

“NEC wonders why the Federal Government would take such an inimical decision without any corresponding offer to Nigerians into the benefitting countries.

“Ohanaeze Ndigbo feels that the security and economic fallouts from the said free entry of foreigners would further aggravate the security threat to the country beyond what is being experienced at the moment and called for a rethink.

“NEC also condemned the selective and parochial siting of military universities as well as other universities and higher institutions entirely in the North to the total neglect of the Southern part of the country.

“Its holds that the warped decision is synonymous with the blatant and insensitive decision of the present administration to have people from a particular ethnic group and religion as the heads of all security forces and agencies in the country notwithstanding their ages and the fact that they should have been retired to give way to younger officers.

“Ohanaeze Ndigbo observed that this action of the Federal Government negates the constitutional provisions of the country that provides equitable representation and siting of amenities throughout the country in accordance with the federal character of the country.

“NEC recalls that there has been a deliberate Federal Government policy to concentrate all military armaments and strategic units in the North with the South completely barren of such military presence except checkpoints that have metamorphosed into toll gates for the exploitation of Ndigbo and their Southern neighbours.

“The group urges the military authorities to dismantle all the checkpoints along the roads in Igbo land, especially during this period of Yuletide with the attendant mass movement of Ndigbo.

“It also condemns the recent $30 billion loan being taken by the Federal Government which will certainly add to the woes of Nigerians, especially in a situation where no sincere and transparent efforts have been made to arrest the scourge of corruption to guarantee its effective utilization in the interest of the masses.

“Ohanaeze Ndigbo also condemns the recent call by the Chief Justice of Nigeria for an amendment to the constitution to include Sharia law at the apex court. It believes that Nigeria, being a federation, is a secular state and cannot have any religion imposed on the people.

“Ohanaeze Ndigbo however feels that if there is need for any such amendment, it should be extended to other religions, including Christianity and traditionalists, to ensure equity.

“ The group also condemns in its entirely, the attempted attack on a prominent Igbo son, Chief Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, the Minister of Transport, who was allegedly harassed by members of IPOB in Spain recently.

“Ohanaeze thinks that the belligerent approach by IPOB towards the struggle for the actualization of a sovereign state of Biafra is giving it a bad image and coloration.”

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