Northern elders back dialogue with Biafra agitators
• Okay deployment of troops
• Traders in Kano laud proscription
Members of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) yesterday urged the Federal Government to dialogue with the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). The leader of the forum, Wantaregh Paul Unongo, made the call in Abuja after an emergency meeting.
He said the dialogue was necessary to encourage other aggrieved groups in the country to explore peaceful means in resolving their differences with the authorities.
While supporting the proscription of IPOB, the forum urged the authorities to adhere to the rule of law in the interest of peace, unity and stability of the country.
Unongo also expressed support for the deployment of troops in the southeast and other places where the peace and security of the country were threatened.
He said the group would not watch as the country sinks into chaos created by divisive elements. “It is in this regard that we strongly support the Federal Government’s official proclamation, proscribing the IPOB and its activities throughout the territory of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“We wish to reiterate our consistent position that there are no issues of disagreement and demands by individuals and groups in the country or anywhere in the world, that dialogue cannot resolve. The NEF acknowledges that we the citizens of Nigeria are capable of resolving our issues internally,” he said.
According to him: “The north acknowledges that there are legitimate questions on the current operations of the Nigerian state. The north has very clear ideas on all issues and positions that are seen as challenges and is willing to dialogue on all of them.
“But, what the north will not allow, is to be stampeded into adopting an agenda and grand design of other parts of the country, which would hurt its basic interests. The north will demand a respectful and responsible approach to its participation in the search for answers to the many questions confronting our country.”
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Harmonised Traders Union in Kano has commended the judiciary for supporting the proscription of the IPOB.
The President of the union, Bature Abdulaziz, who spoke at a press conference in Kano, said the ruling by a Federal High Court in Abuja, has saved the country from disintegration.
He added that the proscription by President Muhammadu Buhari and the subsequent court ruling would go a long way in saving the lives and property of its members.
He added that, but for the proscription, the country would have collapsed, leaving traders, who are scattered across the nation to bear the brunt.
He said: “As traders, we have no attachment to tribal, religious or political sentiments, but we are simply Nigerians. We are the ones to suffer the most in the event of crisis, because we are found everywhere.”