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Igbos condemn alleged ban on travelling home during election, says it’s their right

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Few days after a not well known sociopolitical group, Igbo Delegates Assembly (IDA) in Barnawa, Kaduna State, issued a threat that Igbos in the 19 northern states have been banned from travelling to their states of origin to vote in next year’s general elections, prominent Igbos in Lagos, Abuja and Kano have reacted, chiding the ban.
The body also claimed that any person who flouts the directive would be fined an undisclosed amount of money.
Business Hilights gathered that the decision was reached at an extraordinary meeting of the Igbo group.
Though the group claimed that it is an administrative umbrella organisation of Igbo residents in the northern states and Abuja including all Eze Igbos and chapter presidents in the 19 states, an official of Ohaneze Ndigbo who pleaded anonymity shunned the threat and warned all mushroom Igbo bodies to always seek clarifications from Ohaneze Ndigbo before going public with critical issues like travel bans during elections because it is unconstitutional.
“Anybody is free to travel to any part of the country any time of the year unless there is an official restriction of movement which cannot be more than few given hours and never in days.
“In this country every president in power, living in Aso Rock Villa, usually leave Abuja and travel to his home state with all family members who have reached age of voting and he was not barred from travelling. All travels during election season is simply to go an vote and be voted for in areas one has registered and collected his PVC.
“I want to call the so called IDA to order to withdraw the said threat of punishment because there is no part of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended that provides that nobody or tribe should travel during election season.
Also speaking, a human right lawyer based in Lagos said “Such a threat is a treasonable felony and intent to impede on fundamental human rights of Igbos and shall not stand even though it appears that an Igbo body is being used to destabilize the tribe which I think has failed on arrival”.
The lawyer who pleaded anonymity said “I may be forced to travel to Kaduna State in order to institute a suit against the IDA over the threat as it has no such rights whatsoever”.
He therefore gave IDA seven working days ultimatum to withdraw the human right miscarriage or be sued in a competent court of jurisdiction.
Part of the IDA communiqué read as follows: “We want our people to stay in their respective states and cast their votes. The era of running home during elections cannot be tolerated again. There is no need for us to go home at every election because if you do that you will automatically disenfranchise yourself.
“We have done a lot of sensitisation. We have also educated our people on this and we all agreed. That is why we decided to place an embargo. And if you travel, IDA will fine such person(s),” the organisation’s communiqué, jointly signed by President General Chief Chikezie Nwogu and Secretary General Austin Ofokansi Ifedinezi, said.

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