The assassination of a former Special Adviser on political matters to President Goodluck Jonathan, Ahmed Gulak has continued to generate reactions in a development that has hitherto remained controversial. Gulak was said to have been attacked and shot dead in a Toyota Camry cab taking him and two others to Sam Mbakwe Airport to catch a flight. According to a statement issued by the Imo State Police, a yet to be identified “armed bandits intercepted and attacked a Toyota Camry cab carrying Ahmed Gulak and two others who were on their way to Sam Mbakwe Airport to catch a flight.”
One thing is however certain — the death of the All Progressive Congress (APC) Chieftain portends grave consequences for the country and must be handled with tact. In the midst of all the attempts to unravel whether it was orchestrated by secession proponents, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Unknown Gun Men (as propagated in the widespread reports) or whether it was politically motivated, it is important to see the assassination of Gulak as a ploy to destabilise the country. These anarchists are looking for an excuse to spark off inter-ethnic war and they are already laying the foundation.
Regrettably, certain groups are already playing into the hands of these anarchists and enemies of One Nigeria. For instance, the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) said on 30 May 2021 that the assassination of Ahmed Gulak was an indication that the North can no longer continue to coexist with south-easterners in Nigeria. Spokesman of CNG, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman said Gulak’s assassination is a wider plan by the people of Igbo extraction to replicate the ugly events of 1966.
In a statement by Suleiman, CNG claimed that people of the Southeast are funding “gangs” like the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Eastern Security Network (ESN) to cause havoc.
The group noted that it is no longer in doubt that the “violent rascality by the IPOB, the ESN and other assortments of armed Igbo gangs is funded, fully supported and emboldened by every component of the Igbo society at home and in the Diaspora.”
It added that: “The CNG considers it an insult to our collective sensibilities and ordinary rules of decency to expect other parts of the country, particularly the North, to continue to coexist as a country with the Igbo as federating partners.
“The coordinated incessant attacks on police formations in Imo, Ebonyi, Aba, Ibadan, Enugu, Anambra and most recently the police headquarters in Kwara and Sunday’s cold-blooded assassination of Ahmed Gulak, a prominent northern leader, are part of a wider plan by the Igbos to replicate the ugly events of 1966 and the more reason why we cannot be reasonably expected to live with them as a nation any longer.”
Similarly, the Northern Youth Council is already beating drums of war following their note of warning to the Imo State Governor to produce the killers of Gulak within two weeks or else he will be declared persona non grata in the North.
There appears to be a covert statement from this note of warning by the Northern Youth Council that Uzodinma in one way or the other had a hand in the death of the assassinated APC Chieftain. While this may hold sway as an activist, politician, and acclaimed whistle-blower, Ebubeagu Ekenulo noted, in view of the fact that Uzodinma deserves to be blamed for “lodging his bosom friend and political ally, Ahmed Gulak at Protea hotel without providing him with Police security to oversee his personal safety while in Imo state as a VIP guest of His Excellency and Imo state government”, as well as why Ahmed Gulak “was not quartered at the Presidential lodge with high level of privacy and better security architecture”, the recourse to ‘persona non grata’ as an indictment is too extreme given the gravity of the current crises and the implications of such for the country.
It is like labelling Uzodinma an accomplice even when he might be innocent. The situation is quite dicey and it is best that one treads with caution while addressing or approaching it. Besides, if the press release by the Imo State police is anything to go by, then such statements are quite reprehensible and are likely to stoke violence.
Simultaneously, some have said Gulak must have been assassinated for the role he played in Uzodinma’s emergence as Governor of Imo State in a development that was largely controversial right from the party primaries to the main election. Hope Uzondima and Uche Nwosu, son-in-law to Okorocha had been announced as winners in the primary. The national working committee (NWC) of the party had cancelled the primaries and disbanded the panel. The APC Chieftain, Gulak had left the state under controversial circumstances, forcing the Imo chapter of the APC to declare him missing.
But Gulak came out to declare that Uzodinma won by a wide margin while accusing Okorocha, the then governor of attempting to kidnap him and some other nine members of the panel. Following the general elections, Emeka Ihedioha assumed office on 29 May 2019, in Owerri, Imo State and served in the capacity of governor of the state for seven months. The Supreme Court, however, turned around to nullify his election as Governor of Imo State, while declaring Senator Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of 9 March 2019 gubernatorial elections.
Ever since Uzodinma’s emergence and following his zero-stance on agitations for secessionist struggles, there have been personal grudges against him and by extension, Ahmed Gulak who many believe facilitated his emergence coupled with the crises that have hitherto rocked the South-eastern states. This is why activist and politician, Ebubeagu Ekenulo pointed out that Ahmed Gulak could have been killed by hired assassins for political reasons not far from the outcome of the ruling party’s governorship primaries in Imo State in 2019.
Reacting to his killing, Ekenulo said that “There is nothing like unknown gunmen in this case and or for anyone to want to link this gruesome murder of Ahmed Gulak by bitter politicians to IPOB/ESN.
“It is high time we separate none violent agitations for self-determination or Biafra republic from the political opposition, politically motivated assassinations, kidnapping, armed robbery, banditry and all other forms of violent criminalities ravaging our once peaceful state. We shouldn’t submit to criminals under any disguise.”
He also called “upon the IGP and Imo Commissioner of Police not to look far away from the quarters of those APC aspirants and their killer squad who contested the 2019 Imo Governorship primaries with Gov Uzodimma and lost out.
“We urge the Police to run through the public statements of some of these opposition head eggs within and outside APC wherein they tacitly or otherwise insinuated that they will make the government of Gov Uzodimma ungovernable.”
Meanwhile, some have maintained that Gulak’s murder has IPOB written all over it. In the words of a local commentator, “Nnamdi Kanu’s strategy is to instigate inter-tribal killings so that reprisals can begin to occur in other regions and lead to violent inter-tribal confrontations all over Nigeria. That is how he intends to get his Biafra. He does not mind sacrificing the lives of Igbos living in other parts of Nigeria in his quest for Biafra, the same way he has been sacrificing misguided Igbo youths who keep dying untimely for his pet project.”
However, reacting to some of these allegations, IPOB averred: “We…state without equivocations that IPOB knows nothing about the said assassination. In the first place, what threat did the late Gulak constitute to our cause to warrant his elimination? We had nothing in common with him and could not have in any way killed him…Pointing accusing fingers at IPOB for this barbaric act is only meant to divert attention away from the real masterminds.”
Nevertheless, IPOB shouldn’t be wary that it is getting the blame for all the crises in the Southeast. It is the path it toed and as long as they exist, every political score carried out by these evil politicians and enemies of Nigeria will be apportioned to them.
No matter the guise and the perpetrators of the crime, the underlying design is to heat up the polity and cause deep divisions and ethnic bigotry. The point is that Gulak’s assassination could have been perpetrated by an “insider” or “outsider” knowing fully the grave implications of such heinous act across the country.
This is another test of the country’s unity and matured responses to it will be the sole determinant of our continued existence within the overarching contraption. Governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodinma and his South-eastern counterparts, including all concerned authorities, must do everything to fish out the perpetrators to salvage the situation and avert the doom of another civil war.