Northern youths insist on October 1 ultimatum for Igbo
• Seek referendum
• IG orders arrest of groups’ leaders
• S’ East govs, senators, Dambazau want peaceful coexistence
The northern youth groups that gave an ultimatum to Igbo to leave their region latest on October 1, 2017 reaffirmed their stand yesterday.
They urged the Federal Government to hold a referendum for the actualisation of Biafra Republic.
The groups’ restatement of their position shows that the government at the state and federal levels has not been able to rein them in despite their obvious security risk to the nation’s unity and promises by top quarters to call the youth to order.
In a joint statement yesterday, the coalition condemned the reactions by the Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai and his Borno State counterpart, Alhaji Kashim Shettima over the declaration against the Igbo resident in the north.
Among the groups that made the reaffirmation are the Arewa Citizens Action for Change, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Arewa Youth Development Foundation, Arewa Students Forum and the Northern Emancipation Network.
The Spokesman of the coalition, Mallam Abdulazeez Suleiman, who signed the statement, said: “It should be recalled that on Tuesday June 6, 2017 this coalition led several other northern groups to review the position of the north in the wake of the widening and escalating movement for secession orchestrated by groups in eastern Nigeria.
“At the end, we came up with a position paper which we presented as the Kaduna Declaration in which we primarily called on the authorities and the international community to step in to formalise the actualisation of the dream of a people who say in words and in action, and the whole nation appears to concur, that they are Biafrans not Nigerians.
“We further urged those Biafran nationals to relocate from the north to their newfound country in order to allow other people have peace.
We are today compelled to make this further statement to clarify our stand on some issues that trailed the Kaduna Declaration made.
‘After meeting to review the fallout of that Tuesday’s Declaration, our groups have arrived at the following fundamental observations : some elements have, for reasons best known to them, mischievously distorted the intent of our original script by alluding such words as ‘violence, ‘ ‘threat, ‘ ‘war’ and ‘mass action’ to it.
“We find this mischievous because as cultured, thoroughbred northerners, we have never anywhere and at any time, under whatever circumstances, called anybody to violence as a means of conflict resolution. In strict observance of that tradition, we never employed violence as a means of pursuing our interest and at every opportunity, we opt for peaceful engagements and implore people to eschew violence in all its ramifications.
“This informs why, a majority of discerning Nigerians, not necessarily northerners alone, understood and identified with our express call for the Biafrans to be allowed to actualise their long-held secessionist aspiration.”
He also explained: “We wholeheartedly endorse the moves made variously by our leaders to allay those fears and urge people to be peaceful and law-abiding while at the same time resolutely insisting on having the right thing done by allowing the Igbo to have and move to their dream country in accordance with the universal fundamental right to self-determination.
“We restate our determination and commitment to ensuring that the north will never partake in any contrived arrangement that would still have the Biafran Igbo as a component. We reiterate our call on Nigerian authorities and recognised international bodies such as the ECOWAS, AU and UN to hasten the initiation of the process for the final actualisation of the Biafran nation and with it the excision of the Igbo out of the present federation.”
Condemning the reactions that trailed the group’s declaration, Suleiman said: “We are particularly disappointed by the treacherous positions assumed by Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai and Kashim Shettima who in pursuit of their blind ambition for the vice presidency, chose to side with the secessionist Igbo against the interest of peace-loving Nigerians.
“El-Rufai and Shettima are openly known to be waiting in the wings for Mr. President Muhammadu Buhari to die so they can further their plots to seek the presidency.
It appears that characters like El-Rufai have no limit on how low they can fall in their inordinate desire to achieve their long-held dream of power grab at the expense of the peace, wellbeing and stability of our country.
“We would like to assure El-Rufai and his ilk that we shall continue to expose their recalcitrant treachery and opportunistic proclivities.
We also assure them that the drive for a peaceful and prosperous Nigeria in which the Igbo are not partners, will continue unabated.
“Similarly, we are irked by the hordes of lies and misleading innuendos issued by Shettima, ostensibly on behalf of 19 northern governors in which he referred to us as faceless and violent.
By our antecedents and track record, no politician or leader of honorable pedigree and impeccable character will associate us with such fabrications and this goes to prove that Shettima has disconnected from reality as he gets intoxicated by immoral wealth and property acquisition at the expense of people of the state suffering the devastation of Bolo Haram.”
Meanwhile, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, has ordered the Commissioner of Police (CP) in Kaduna State to investigate and arrest leaders of the northern youth groups who issued the quit notice.
The IGP’s order came about 24 hours after Governor El-Rufai had given the same order and nothing appeared to have been done.
Idris also ordered other state commissioners of police in the north and assistant inspectors-general in the various zonal commands to do the same.
“As commissioners of police and assistant inspectors-general, we have the responsibility to stop this group of persons from carrying out their threats. I want us to be at alert. No individual has the authority to stop anybody from looking for his daily bread,” he said.
The South East Senate Caucus yesterday asked Igbo residing in the north to ignore the quit order. In a statement in Abuja, its Chairman, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe described the quit order by the Arewa youths as poisonous, irresponsible and one that was aimed at dealing a deadly blow to the nation’s unity.
Abaribe said Section 41 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, firmly guarantees the right of “every Nigerian to move freely in and reside in any part thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereto or exit therefrom.
“So, nobody or groups of persons have the right to abridge the right of the Igbo or any other Nigerian for that matter.”
The caucus nonetheless asked the people to be very cautious and vigilant while going about their normal businesses, especially when viewed from the fact that the security agencies became lethargic in the face of the treasonable threat.
“It is alarming that neither the police nor the Department of State Services (DSS) was forthcoming to effect arrest or even issue any serious warning, more than 24 hours after the open threat laced with a three- month deadline.
“We consider the cold feet of the relevant security agencies in the circumstance as sinister and one that casts ominous sign in the corporate existence of Nigeria,” Abaribe said.
On their part, the South East Governors Forum said that the Igbo were not going anywhere, urging their kinsmen in the north to ignore the quit notice.
At a press conference at Government House, Abakaliki, Chairman of the forum and Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi who described the quit order as provocative, directed the Igbo to go about their normal businesses assuring that the governors and security agencies would not allow them to suffer any harm in the north.
Umahi debunked the rumour that the South East governors met and agreed to mobilise vehicles and cash for the relocation of the Igbo from the north.
His words: “The South East Governors’ Forum has repeatedly reiterated its commitment to and preference for the existence of a virile, united, prosperous and progressive Federal Republic of Nigeria where justice, fairness, equity, mutual respect and equality of opportunity to all citizens regardless of creed, ethnicity or gender will reign supreme under the inflexible rule of law.
“We have had occasion recently to take this position publicly in response to the peaceful agitations of some Igbo youth. We will continue to take a similar stance in response to any action that might threaten the cohesiveness of this nation or designed to cause its rupture.
“No amount of provocation would lead us to such a precipitate and irresponsible action at this time. Those exploiting such vacuous tittle-tattle as a basis for divisive rhetoric in public spaces are simply playing juvenile politics and we urge them to cease and desist.”
Yesterday too, the Ministry of Interior urged Nigerians to live in peace and avoid anything that would cause disharmony.
The Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, made the call in a reaction to the quit notice. He condemned such a call and described it as “spurious and unwarranted act.’’
Dambazau said the Federal Government would bring the full weight of the law on any individual or group violating the rights of other citizens.
“I call on all well-meaning Nigerians to go about their normal activities as the government would bring to bear the full weight of the law on any individual or group violating the rights of citizens of the country,” he said.
He lamented the spate of calls for separation and called on well-meaning Nigerians to go about their normal activities without any fear.
The minister said the Federal Government would ensure that citizens were free to go about their normal businesses without harassment or hindrance by any group or persons.
He advised the various ethnic groups in the country to desist from inflaming the embers of hate, animosity, discord and disharmony.
He called on them to adhere strictly to the teachings of good values of religions and cultures that encourage good neighbourliness, national unity, integration and love for one another.
Dambazau advised the youths to avoid being instrument of violence, animosity and disharmony in the country.