My attackers on drugs, I’ve forgiven them —Ekweremadu

Former Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, who returned to the country from Germany where he was assaulted by some members of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, on Monday, declared that he would not be seeking punishment for his attackers because he had forgiven them.

Ekweremadu, who spoke with journalists at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, described his assault as an action carried out by a few misguided individuals, who were on drugs.

He said his observation about them showed that they were under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

He said, “I had a feeling that they (his attackers) were under the influence of alcohol and drugs. They did not represent the feelings of our people. I have forgiven them and I have moved on. The government of Germany is free to do whatever they want to do about their case.”

Giving details of what actually happened at the event, the former deputy senate president said his attackers had issues with the handling of the Operation Python Dance, a military operation in the South-East.

He said, “The organisers asked me to come to the venue because the place was already full of guests including the Mayor of the town and the Nigerian Ambassador to Germany and I had to rush there.

“When I got there, the Ambassador was not there yet but a lot of people had already assembled. I was excited and I alighted from my car to go and say hello to those standing in front of the hall.

“A group of young people with IPOB emblem and shirts were also standing there. One of them then accosted me and said that we didn’t do much when the Federal Government declared Operation Python Dance in the South-East.

“They asked me to address them on the issue right there but I told them that it was part of the issues I would address when I wanted to speak during the programme but they said, ‘No!’ They became agitated and started attacking me immediately.”

Ekweremadu was physically assaulted by some members of IPOB during the Second Annual Cultural Festival and Convention organised by Ndi-Igbo Germany in Nuremberg on Saturday.

Prosecute Ekweremadu’s attackers, FG urges Germany

But the Nigerian High Commission in Germany has called on the German government to conduct a thorough probe into Ekweremadu’s  attack  with a view to punishing his attackers.

Also, some Abuja-based activists have petitioned the German Chancellor, Dr Angela Merkel, and urged the German authorities to probe Ekweremadu’s attack and punish the offenders.

This is as more Nigerians including the Chairman of South-East Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State and the All Progressives Congress condemned the attack, describing it as embarrassing.

The Nigerian High Commission in Germany in a statement on Monday urged the German government to prosecute the attackers under its law with a view to serving as a deterrent to others who could be planning such an embarrassing attack.

Under German laws, physical assaults are punishable by fines or imprisonment of up to 10 years.

The statement partly read, “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 of an illegal and terrorist entity named Indigenous Peoples of Biafra in Nuremberg on 17th of 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 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 the 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.”

Activists petition Merkel, urge Germany to probe senator’s attack

Also, some Abuja-based activists have petitioned the German Chancellor, Dr Angela Merkel, and urged the German Government to probe Ekweremadu’s attack and punish the offenders.

The petition dated August 19, 2019, and signed by the Executive Director, Adopt A Goal, Ariyo-Dare Atoye; and the Convener, Concerned Nigeria Group, Deji Adeyanju, was addressed to the German Chancellor, Dr Angela Merkel, through the Ambassador, German Embassy in Nigeria.

The petition read, “…Senator Ekweremadu was invited to Germany to attend and address a cultural event hosted by his kinsmen – Igbo Ethnic Congress. It was at the venue of the said event that the Senator was attacked and assaulted, as the whole world saw in a viral video that trended on August 17, 2019.

“This shameful incident has also been reported in several broadcast and traditional media in several countries around the world. We are worried that this has in many ways ridiculed the senator, lowered the estimate of our parliament in the eye of the international community and affected the image of our country.”

“Our country enjoys a good relationship with Germany, and so we believe it is the duty of both countries to protect visiting public officials, dignitaries, visitors and the nationals of the other country who are residents and doing legitimate duties.

“Consequently, we urge you to use your good offices to investigate this reprehensible act of violence, assault and ensure that justice is done in this matter.”

Ekweremadu’s attackers are illiterates, says Umahi

But on Monday, Umahi described those involved in the attack as illiterates.

According to Umahi, if members of the IPOB were the least educated people, they would not have launched the attack on an Igbo son, as they did.

The governor, who said lack of education,” brings frustrations and insecurity in society,” added that absence of it among the group’s members led to Saturday’s attack on the senator.

The governor spoke in Abakaliki, the state capital, during the commencement of the Basic Education Service Delivery for out-of-school children in the state on Monday.

He said “I was addressing the press today on the unfortunate attack of our brother, the former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, in Germany. Those that attacked him were not medical doctors, they were not engineers, they were not lawyers or chief executives of parastatals or industries. Those IPOB members are not educated.

“Even if they were least educated people of IPOB members, they wouldn’t do what they did. And so, it is lack of education. Lack of education brings frustrations and that is a clear case of what happened.”

IPOB’s attack on Ekweremadu, an assault on decency —APC

Also, the All Progressives Congress has condemned the attack on Ekweremadu.

The ruling party in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Lanre Issa-Onilu, said those involved in the despicable action and the organisation they represented, were unworthy in character.

“No Nigerian should be assaulted in the manner Senator Ekweremadu was. It is an indecent action and it is below the acceptable standard of behaviour expected of our citizens whether in Nigeria or abroad.

“It is however regrettable that some of the people and organisations who had offered these irresponsible elements open support in the past are raising their voices now.”

The APC blamed the opposition Peoples Democratic Party for supporting IPOB in the past when it was promoting division in the country.

“The PDP and its leaders chose to play politics over a matter that called for collective patriotic actions when IPOB raised a terror group in the South-East.

“It is clear that the PDP and its other shortsighted co-travellers who were the main cheerleaders of IPOB owe this country an apology. IPOB hid under regional identity to perpetrate criminality having recruited some misguided elements and miscreants.

“Are we surprised by the PDP’s hypocritical reaction to the unfortunate attack on Senator Ekweremadu? No!

“The PDP and their leaders have acted true to type. This is what happens when politicians become myopic and allow narrow sentiments becloud their sense of judgement.

“We all have a responsibility to collectively rise against evil wherever we find it and in whatever guise it appears. We hope lessons have been learnt from this unfortunate incident.”

Assault on Ekweremadu uncivilised, unfortunate, says Dickson

Also, Dickson on Monday condemned the attack, describing the assault on Ekweremadu as regrettable, uncivilised and unfortunate.

Dickson in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media Relations, Fidelis Soriwei, said the former Deputy Senate President had conducted himself in a way that should attract respect rather than humiliation from the people.

Dickson said the denigrating treatment to Ekweremadu was an assault on “our collective ideals as Nigerians.”

Dickson said, “The Saturday’s attack on the former Deputy President of Senate, Prof. Ike Ekweremadu, was shocking and condemnable and I join Nigerians of good conscience to condemn it.

“As a leader, Ekweremadu has shown great understanding of the issues affecting the South-East and has been consistent in the pursuit of the interest of the South-East.

“Embarking on a physical assault on him for whatever reason is against the ideals of our society. It is clearly unacceptable.”

Ekweremadu’s assault, a lesson to politicians —N’ Delta Coalition

Though the Niger Delta Peace Coalition condemned the attack on Ekweremadu, it noted that the incident should be a lesson to politicians in power.

“Though it is a criminal offence, in most developed countries of the world, especially in Western countries, to publicly assault someone because if they are caught, they may face deportation and jail term, my take is that whatever seeds you plant today while in public office, you will definitely reap same in triple folds in the near or far future,” the National Coordinator of the NDPC, Zik Gbemre, said in a statement in Abuja on Monday.

The statement added, “My candid advice to Nigerian politicians is that they should be reminded of the undeniable fact that one day, they will face being humiliated and publicly disgraced, if they continue with their wicked and self-centred style of governance, which has created and increased the number of Nigerians in abject poverty and lack of access to the basic human needs of society.

“The said unfortunate incident should be a strong lesson to serving Nigerian politicians to realize that when they vacate the seat of power, that they could be attacked anywhere, be it home or abroad, as a result of their action and inaction towards the masses while in government.

“The anger and agitation we saw being portrayed by the said Igbo community in Germany, is just an example of ‘built-up frustration,’ as a result of the many years of bad governance across Nigeria, which the people saw an opportunity to “vent.”

Group condemns attack, says IPOB members are miscreants

However, the Enugu West People’s Parliament on Monday condemned the threats by IPOB to attack South-East governors and other Igbo leaders.

The group was reacting to the attack on Ekweremadu.

The Leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu had, after the attack, offered N1m reward for credible information on overseas travel of Igbo leaders, especially the governors.

He accused Ekweremadu of working with governors in the zone to proscribe IPOB.

But addressing journalists in Enugu, the group through its spokesperson, Jonathan Ivoke, came hard on members of IPOB, describing them as “miscreants masquerading as those fighting for the Igbo agenda.”

The group urged Igbo leaders and those holding political and cultural offices not to be distracted by the threats in their efforts to serve the Igbo nation.

It condemned what it described as a ‘’dastardly, cowardly and sacrilegious’’ attack on Ekweremadu by IPOB members.

Attack stirs Nigerians’ deportation rumour from Germany

Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports that the German government deported a fresh batch of Nigerian migrants 48 hours after the attack on Ekweremadu stirred controversy on Monday.

Online reports about the deportation started circulating on Friday, citing information from the Activist for Network Refugees 4Refugees, a political platform for refugees/migrants self-organisation based in Stuttgart, Germany, that the German government planned to deport fresh batch of migrants on Monday.

Several online media drew references from the Friday report that indicated that the migrants were expected to leave Frankfurt Airport at 8am and land in Nigeria’s Murtala Muhammed International Airport between 2pm and 3pm on Monday.

A representative of the Activist for Network Refugees 4Refugees, Rex Osa, was quoted as saying that the migrants would be picked randomly from different accommodation centres.

He reportedly said, “The flight will be from Frankfurt on Monday. For those who have been given the information, the plane will take off by 8am and arrive in Nigeria between 2pm and 3pm.

“Those who will be deported will be picked randomly from their different accommodation centres from 3 am till 5am in different regions and be conveyed to a central place and finally to Frankfurt Airport.”

But when contacted, the immigration and National Emergency Management Agency denied knowledge of the deportation.

The Public Relations Officer, Nigeria Immigration Service, Mr Sunday James, said there was no record of such deportation.

“Presently, there is nothing like that in our record,” he said.

The Spokesperson for NEMA, Mr Ibrahim Farinloye, also stated that the deportation report had not been confirmed.

According to him, an unconfirmed report said the flight took off by 8am on Monday, but NEMA was not involved.

In July, two batches of Nigerians were sent back home from the European country.