The IPOB attack on a Nigerian lawmaker, Ike Ekweremadu, in Germany “stands as a crime” and “an act of terrorism,” Nigeria has said, challenging the German police to bring the perpetrators to book.
The attack in August during an Igbo cultural festival in Nuremberg, Germany, was dismissed as ‘just a protest” by the German police who added that: “about 30 persons demonstrated against him (Mr Ekweremadu) and the police … called the situation to down and the senator drove away in his car.”
In an interview conducted by freelance journalist, Ruona Meyer, and shared exclusively with PREMIUM TIMES, the Nigerian Ambassador to Germany, Yusuf Tuggar, however, said the incident could not be explained as a protest.
The incident was video-recorded and shared online, showing Mr Ekweremadu as he scampered while being chased by a mob formed by suspected members of IPOB, a proscribed separatist group rooted in Nigeria’s southeast.
IPOB’s leader, Nnamdi Kanu, who is wanted in Nigeria to continue his trial on treason, later confirmed members of the group were involved in the Nuremberg incident and said other leaders of Igbo extraction would be humiliated abroad.
“Authorities have seen the video,” said Mr Tuggar. “The video speaks for itself. Anybody who is trying to paint another picture or claiming there is no assault has either not seen the video or is on a different mission. It is clear.
“There is no political protest that is supposed to be peaceful that should push the supposed protesters into physically attacking and assaulting another human being. Anywhere that happens in the world, it is a crime and the perpetrators have to be brought to book.
“I fail to understand how the issue of peaceful protest comes into this.”
Mr Ekweremadu was for 12 years a deputy senate president in Nigeria.
Act of terrorism
Mr Tuggar said “from all probability” the intent of Mr Ekweremadu’s attackers was bodily harm.
“It was an animal hunt,” he said, “when a grown man is made to run for his life while being chased and ripped off his clothes…”
He said IPOB wanted to ensure that the Nuremberg event did not hold and that “anyone one who projects the indivisibility of Nigeria did not attend.”
The ambassador said he went to the event despite his awareness of the attack on Mr Ekweremadu to defeat the “IPOB’s goal.”
“What they tried to do was to terrorise us into silence,” he said. “It was an act of terrorism.”
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He said he expected that IPOB members would be arrested and if necessary be prosecuted. He added “it is not just about Ekweremadu” but that the value of the life of every Nigerian must be respected.
He said, “If this was to happen (in Nigeria) to anybody from another country, you can imagine the hell that would be let loose. This stands as a crime. We can’t have a situation where any Nigerian is attacked by criminals and terrorists.
“We are expecting that Nigerians be treated no differently from other nationals.”
“Can’t vouch for German police”
Mr Tuggar was asked if he could vouch for the German police, who have now said four persons are already being investigated in connection with the incident and that they reviewing any available evidence.
“I am waiting to see what will happen,’ he replied. “I can’t sit here and vouch for the German police. They are aware of the existence of IPOB which is a proscribed terrorist organisation in Nigeria. They are aware Nigeria has proscribed the terrorist organisation and it is registered here as an entity.
“Therefore, it is left for the German police to decide whether such an entity that is legally registered here begins to attack Nigerians on German soil.”
He asked IPOB to “give up this futile endeavour” and seek the support of the people through an election.
“You do not have the support at home and that is why you are trying to shout down other persons as spokespersons for one part of the country, in this case, the southeast. If you want to represent, we have a process,’ he said.
Separatist agitation in the southeastern ranks among Nigeria’s national security concerns, decades after the country fought a 30-month civil war (1966-1970) to stop the secession of that region.
Several decades after the war, Nigeria remains unable to forge a cohesive whole out of the array of ethnic nationalities Britain had lumped together to from the country.