The Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe, has debunked the story making the rounds that a phone call from an unnamed caller saved him from boarding the ill-fated train that left Abuja for Kaduna on Monday, March 28, 2022.
Recall that the train was attacked by terrorists in Kaduna, leaving some passengers dead, others injured and the attackers abducting some of the stranded passengers.
The Monarch, while debunking the story via a statement signed and made available to Newsmen in Awka, on Sunday, by Chinyelugo Osita Anionwu, Chief of Staff Ime Obi Onicha, said Igwe Achebe never made the statement attributed to him in the publications.
He said it was unfortunate that anyone could attribute to him what he did not say.
While urging Nigerians to disregard the information, Obi of Onitsha, called for circumspection in the media, particularly at a time like this when the country is faced with serious challenges.
The statement read, “The attention of Ime Obi Onicha (the Palace) has been drawn to a story titled: “How Phone Call Saved Me From Boarding Attacked Train”, which was attributed to His Majesty, Nnaemeka Achebe, CFR, mni, Obi of Onitsha, by the authors of the story as having made the statement today, Saturday, 02 April 2022. For the records, the Palace would like to state categorically that His Majesty never made such a statement to anyone at any time.
Clarifying the movements of the Obi of Onitsha around March 28 when the Abuja to Kaduna train was attacked by armed bandits, the Palace said the monarch travelled by road to Kaduna and was never at the train station.
The statement reads in part: “While His Majesty was abroad, the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, Kaduna State, sent a letter dated 21 January 2022 inviting him to deliver a lecture on Tuesday, 29 March 2022 to its annual training programme of officers from all security agencies in the country on Internal Security.
“His Majesty, on return to Onitsha on 08 February, accepted the invitation in keeping with his commitment, along with his brother traditional rulers, to the promotion of peace and harmony in the country.
“In discussing the options for His Majesty’s travel to Jaji with his hosts on 14 March, the option of travel by train from Abuja to Kaduna was considered and set aside in favour of road transport with adequate security escort.
“Thus, His Majesty travelled safely to Jaji on 28 March and returned to Abuja on 30 March with very adequate security escort provided by the AFCSC, and no hitches whatsoever.
“On Thursday, 31 March, His Majesty attended the South East Leadership Press Conference at Enugu. In his brief goodwill message, he lamented the state of insecurity and violence in the country and drew attention to the train attack in which the Onitsha kingdom lost the young medical doctor, Chinelo Megafu. It was in that connection that His Majesty mentioned casually that the option of his travelling by train to Kaduna on that date had long been set aside in favour of road travel by mutual agreement with his hosts. No reference was made to any imaginary phone call from anyone. This has been His Majesty’s only public reference to the tragic train attack of 28 March.
“The news media were present at the Enugu meeting and one of them would be the likely source of the false and convoluted story claiming that His Majesty made the said statement on Saturday, meaning today 02 April, 2022. Indeed, His Majesty has mostly engaged today with the Anambra Peace Meeting organized jointly by the new Anambra State Government of Mr. Governor, Professor Chukwuma Charles Soludo and the Joint Body of the South East Council of Traditional Rulers and the Archbishops/Bishops of the South East on Peace and Conflict Resolution. Other than delivering the keynote press statement of the occasion, His Majesty did not engage the media on any subject whatsoever.
“The entire country is in dire straights on internal security and anyone could be a victim in the situation that we currently face, for instance, the unfortunate victims of the train attack. Thus, it is absolutely callous for anyone to use such a distressful national tragedy to grab fake media attention.
“People who know His Majesty would attest that he does his utmost as a royal father to advance the cause of peace, harmony, and progress in the entire country in a quiet and unobtrusive manner, and away from the public glare of the media. All His Majesty’s communication devices have since been inundated with calls and messages. This message is, therefore, being issued to put everyone’s mind at rest that His Majesty was not near danger whatsoever on 28 March 2022.”