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No going back on deadline for Igbo, say northern youths

By Saxone Akhaine, Abdulganiu Alabi (Kaduna) and Muyiwa Adeyemi (Ibadan)
20 June 2017   |   4:30 am
The coalition of northern youth groups insisted yesterday that Igbo residing in their region must leave on October 1, 2017.The groups, including the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF) urged the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo to allow the emergence of Biafran State from Nigeria.

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The coalition of northern youth groups insisted yesterday that Igbo residing in their region must leave on October 1, 2017.The groups, including the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF) urged the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo to allow the emergence of Biafran State from Nigeria.

The position of the northern youths indicates that there is no easy solution to the crisis over the eviction notice despite the assurances by the Federal Government and some leaders.

One of the leaders of the coalition and National President of AYCF, Alhaji Shettima Yerima, confirmed on phone that the youths had sent a letter to Osinbajo on their position.In the open letter signed by five of the leaders of the groups, the coalition urged the acting president to facilitate an easy exit for the Igbo to be allowed to have their dream country, Biafra. This, the northern group said should not be through a violent means but a peaceful manner through a referendum.

Those who signed the letter include, Amb. Shettima Yerima (AYCF); Joshua Viashman (Northern Youth Vanguard); Aminu Adam (Arewa Youth Development Foundation); Abdul-Azeez Suleiman (Northern Emancipation Network) and Nastura Ashir Sharif (Arewa Citizens Action for Change).

According to them, the acting president should take steps to facilitate the actualisation of the Biafran nation in line with the principle of self-determination as an integral part of contemporary customary international law.

They said their concern to allow the Igbo have their way was based on the fact that “the Biafrans have confessed to arming themselves for a violent breakup, we feel that it is risky for the rest of the country particularly the north to go on pretending that it is safe for us to co-habit with the Igbo given how deeply they are entrenched in our societies.” The northern youths added that it was better for the Igbo to go without bloodletting.

The groups further argued that as the Igbo agitations persisted and assumed threatening dimensions, “we submit that there is need to ensure that they are given the opportunity to exercise the right to self-determination as entrenched under the aforementioned international statutes to which Nigeria is a signatory.”

The Arewa youths, who said they were not waging war or calling anyone to violence, added: “We nevertheless are also not willing to continue tolerating the malicious campaign and threats of war that the Igbo have continued to wage against us. We also cannot afford to continue giving the keys to our cities to a people whose utterances, plans and arrangements are clearly geared towards war and anarchy.

“We therefore demand that the only enduring solution to this scourge that is being visited on the nation is complete separation of the states presently agitating for Biafra from the Federal Republic of Nigeria through a peaceful political process by taking steps to facilitate the actualisation of the Biafran nation.

“The principle of self-determination has, since World War II become a part of the United Nations Charter which states in Article 1(2), that one of the purposes of the UN is ‘to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples.’

“We submit that this protocol envisages that people of any nation have the right to self-determination, and although the charter did not categorically impose direct legal obligations on member states, it implies that member states allow agitating or minority groups to self-govern as much as possible.”

According to the coalition, the Igbo manifested their hatred for Nigeria’s unity barely five years after the country’s independence “when on January 15, 1966, their army officers carried out the first-ever mutiny that marked the beginning of a series of crises which have profoundly altered the course of Nigeria’s history.”

They noted that even in recent times, the agitation for the Igbo to have the Republic of Biafra heightened with the activities of Nnamdi Kanu’s Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPoB) and were never opposed by the majority of the Igbo.

“Kanu and IPoB have declared full allegiance to a Republic of Biafra and continued to preach hatred and war virtually every day, not for once did any Igbo leader call them to order. Instead, many of the leaders, including Ike Ekweremadu, the Deputy Senate President, the most senior elected Igbo, pays Kanu courtesy calls to prove that he is speaking for the entire Igbo.

“Even the latest statement by the South-East Governors Forum signed by Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State in a response to the Northern reaction, did not condemn Kanu.”

While giving the acting president the assurance that no Igbo would be harmed in the region, the coalition insisted that Igbo be allowed to have their Biafra Republic without a drop of blood.

Meanwhile, the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Stuart Symington, has said that his country would continue to work towards the promotion of the unity of Nigeria, where he said the strength of the world’s most populous black nation lies.

The envoy, who led top officials of the embassy on a working visit to the office of the Governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi, in Ibadan, yesterday, noted the U.S. recognised the strategic importance of Nigeria in Africa.

He said that his visit was in furtherance of his country’s vision and mission to explore new frontiers of partnership for development with African countries, which, he said, informed his decision to tour every part of the country.