Imo governor seeks compensation for South-East over civil war losses

Imo State Governor Hope Uzodinma on Wednesday urged the federal government to compensate the people of the South-East for the losses recorded during the country’s civil war.

Imo State Governor Hope Uzodinma on Wednesday urged the federal government to compensate the people of the South-East for the losses recorded during the country’s civil war.

The governor made the call during a public hearing on the review of the revenue allocation formula held in Owerri, the state capital.

He described the effect of the war as “devastating,” and urged the federal government to establish a special fund that would address the complaints of people of the region.

According to him, the special fund will provide succour to those who lost properties and family members during the civil war.

“I think the debacles of the civil war led the South-East into a deep poverty level; houses were burnt down and people were killed.

“Only recently, a special law was enacted as the North-East Development Commission, arising from the disaster of Boko Haram incidents. But the 30-month civil war that ended in 1970 left the South-East in a state of penury.

“Today, as it stands, the federal government takes home 52.68 per cent, state governments, 26.72 per cent, while the 774 local government areas take home 20.60 per cent.

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“It should not just be about multi-billion-dollar pipeline projects that siphon oil and gas from the state which results to youth restiveness, quantum violence and subsequent deaths,” he said.

Nigeria was embroiled in a civil war from 1967 to 1970.

Fifty-one years on, the scars are yet to heal for many, including former fighters who suffered injuries and others who lost their loved ones and suffered huge economic losses.

In 2017, the Economic Community of West African States Court of Justice ordered the Nigerian government to pay N50 billion naira ($138m) in damages to civil war victims.

The ECOWAS Court of Justice also ruled that N38 billion ($105m) should be put towards evacuating abandoned lethal weapons that deprive southeast communities of farmland since the civil war ended.

President Muhammadu Buhari, had in 2017, approved the payment of pensions of former police officers who served in Biafra during the civil war. The officers were granted a presidential pardon in 2000 by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

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At a “Never Again” conference held in May 2020 in Lagos, Igbo leaders from the southeast, had urged the Federal Government to step up development efforts in the region. They also called for increased political inclusion and economic support to end fresh secessionist calls in the region.

The federal government has repeatedly said it is committed to developing the region. The National Assembly had on Tuesday approved the South-East Development Commission to facilitate development drives in the South East.

However, separatist sentiment has not been wished away, and in recent times, the pro-Biafra movement has seen some resurgence. The red, black and green flag of Biafra with a rising golden sun still dots the frontage of some commercial buildings and houses in the southeast region.

Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) group, who is the most visible face of the movement, remains in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS).

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