- Middle Belt distances zone from ultimatum
- El-Rufai orders for arrest of group leaders
- Oodua groups, Atiku condemn statement
- ACF calls for caution
The threat by northern youth groups to expel people of Igbo extraction cutting across the South East and South-South geopolitical zone of the country by October 1, 2017 over demands for Biafra Republic, has rattled many Nigerians.
The 16 northern groups had in a joint statement in Kaduna, North West Nigeria, called on the Federal Government to either grant the request of various Igbo groups for a separate country or they would be forced to expel them from their region.
This was contained in a seven-point stand that called on “the attention of the Nigerian authorities to the fact that the North, a critical player in the federal arrangement is no longer disposed to tolerating further Igbo blackmail and intimidation.
“In this respect, it is our considered view that rather than the Igbo continuing to hold the whole country to ransom, they should be allowed to go their own way; It is on record that the Igbo has done more damage to our collective nationhood than any other ethnic group in Nigeria; The Igbo was responsible for the very first violent interference with democracy in Nigeria resulting in a prolonged counter-productive chain of military dictatorship.”
They further claimed: “The Igbo was responsible for the first and so far, only civil war in Nigeria that coated millions of lives and sowed the seed of the current mutual suspicion and distrust. Indisputably the Igbo is responsible for Nigeria’s cultural and moral degeneracy with the notoriety for all kinds of crimes including International networking for drug and human trafficking, violent robberies and kidnapping, high-profile prostitution and advanced financial fraud.
“It is also on record that since the inception of the current democratic dispensation, the Igbo has shown and maintained open contempt and dissension to the collective decision expressed by a majority of Nigerians at various stages through generally acceptable democratic processes. Having come this far, we wish to categorically state that the North is no longer keen in being in the same country with this unruly pack of unrepentant hooligans.”
“That the North supports and encourages the authorities and other national and international stakeholders to allow the rebellious Igbo to go their way. That in the event the Igbo is not allowed to pull out; the North shall divorce this marriage that has never been convenient to any of the parties.
“That as a prelude we call on all Igbos currently residing in any part of Northern Nigeria to relocate within two weeks and northerners in the East should do likewise. Those northern leaders are hereby warned against further insisting on this union with the Igbo or any other part of Nigeria that is disposed to self-determination.”
However, this demand has rattled Nigerians with angry reactions and rebuttals from concerned stakeholders including the Federal Government, Kaduna state government, Ohaneze Ndigbo, Arewa Congress, Middle Belt groups, and Oodua Congress among others.
The Publisher of PRNigeria, Mr. Shuaib Yushau, in a swift reaction called for calm, saying: “The faceless Arewa groups that issued the ultimatum to the Igbos in the North, merely respond, in similar measures, to the threats of IPOB/MASSOB about Nigeria’s unity”.
Yushau further assured that “no one is going anywhere. We should remain united and stop the dirty politics of ethnicity, largely played by sponsored and misguided youths”.
According to him, “the ill-advised agitators from both parties only read history books but not witnesses to the history”.
Middle Belt youth council self from northern groups
- Says Igbos welcomed in the region
The Middle Belt Youth Council has expressed concern about the ongoing regional tension in Nigeria, following the threat by some northern groups to expel Igbos if government fails to grant their wish to be divorced from the country.
The President of the group, Mr. Emma Zopmal, in a statement, issued in the light of incessant threats to one Nigeria posed by killer-herdsmen, called “on good people of Middle Belt to first of all, support the Anti-grazing Bill.
Zopmal said that grazing by Fulani herdsmen on their land has become the major cause of conflicts in the region and called “for a total ban on open grazing so as to save the lives of our people and their farmlands.”
Part of the statement read: “Secondly, it’s no longer news that our country Nigeria is facing a daunting challenge of peace and unity but we want to assure the good citizens of Nigeria that we have been a peace-loving people and we’ll continue to be. But, in an event one part of the country decides to go away as a separate entity, Middle Belt is also ready to make an independent statement. We want to clarify those who think that the Middle Belt is part of the North: God created everywhere and everyone and He gave it to whom He chooses and Middle Belt is a creation of God and not man (Usman bn Fodio).
“Therefore, we choose what to use our land for, how to run it and where we want to be. Middle Belt has been a home for the Ohaneze Ndigbo, South-South and the South-West without any form of discrimination against anyone. We’ve accommodated every Nigerian for centuries now. We deserve respect and commendations. If the Arewa youths are sending away Igbos from their states, we in the Middle Belt are ready to offer them accommodation in our land (which is an inheritance from God and nobody will take it away from us) for them to continue with their life and businesses. Southern Nigeria people should also know that ‘Middle Belters’ are not northerners and we can never be because we’re not affiliated in terms of culture, language, education, economy, and general lifestyle.”
“The Biafran struggle did not come as an accident but as a result of injustice and unfair treatment to regions, people or religion. Over the years, our federalism has been a fat lie that deprives political rights and freedom of some sections of the country while others benefit immensely from it. Middle Belt has been at the receiving end of this inequitable arrangement in which our people in Southern Kaduna, Southern Bauchi, Southern Borno, Southern Kebbi, Adamawa are under constant alienation and annihilation.
“Therefore, Middle Belt strongly stands for reconstruction of Nigeria not only restructuring. We’ll join hands with Southern Nigerian people to actualize it. In view of this press statement, we want to urge Middle Belters to remain resolute in making sure we protect our future against the claims by the Hausa/Fulani. More so, for want of peace and unity of dear country Nigeria, we call on Igbo nation to feel at home in the Middle Belt in an event they are sent away from the Arewa land.”
Oodua group condemn Northern youths, support Igbo
The Yoruba ethnic groups from South West Nigeria, has also condemned the northern youths who ordered Igbos to quit the North as intolerant and lack basic respect for the fundamentals of democracy
The group comprising of Oodua Nationalist Coalition, (ONAC) and the Oodua Liberation Movement, (OLM) said in a joint statement issued on Wednesday.
In the joint statement signed by the group’s officials, Mr. Gbenga Awosode , Sunday Akinnuoye and Mallam Suleiman Musa Akintunde said the position of the mainly Hausa-Fulani youths run contrary to the norms of democracy and human rights.
The groups stated: “Let it be known that we are hand-in-hand with the Igbo’s demand for self-determination. We support their protest. We will never allow what happened in 1966 to repeat itself. Enough is enough. If the Hausa Fulani youths can ask Igbo to leave the North, their next target will be Yoruba, their historic enemy.”
The group said Nigeria remained an institution put together to repress the “culture and spirituality of nationalities’ saying that what keeps Nigeria together is greed, avarice over oil resources of the Niger-Delta people which a parasitic elite wish to exploit to parochial advantage.”
The group said the order by the Hausa-Fulani youths was part of the plot to destabilise Nigeria in the full realisation that their kinsman is not presently at the helms of affairs due to ill health. Nigerians should be alert knowing that this this threat is coming few days after rumours of a coup became widespread. “But in reality, having Yoruba sovereignty is far more important than the Yoruba producing the President of Nigeria forever.”
The group said if the oil resources had been in the territory of the Hausa-Fulani North, Nigeria would have disintegrated. “Nigeria is the chief most corrupt country. The country runs a constitution that has no input from the people. Politics is by exclusion. Greed, cold-blooded murder, unemployment, blind stealing, malicious state policies, misery and opulence of a malicious few are the major characteristic of Nigeria since 1960. When people ask they want to go they are asked to shut up.”
OLM and ONAC stated further: “What we have seen is the increasing Talibanisation of Northern Nigeria by people who have no respect for the norms of democracy. The statement asking Igbo people to quick Northern Nigeria are misplaced, an assault on democracy and an extension of political terrorism”, the group said in the statement.
ONAC and OLM said the demand for self-determination by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, (IPOB) and the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, (MASSOB) are recognized by the United Nations, (UN).
The Pan Yoruba groups stated: “IPOB urged the Igbo South East to stay at home. The people complied. For us this is the best form of peaceful protest any civilized nation could offer. This is far better than the situation in the North East where some people have taken bombing and armed uprising against the state. It is disheartening that these Northern youths lack basic knowledge about the workings of democracy and the fundamental principles accepted globally.”
The groups said the Northern youths were not speaking on behalf of the over 250 ethnic minorities in the North, adding that the group merely represent the “violent Fulani minority in the North”
Gov. El-Rufai calls for the arrest of northern youths
The Kaduna State Government has also assured every resident of the state that nobody can tamper with their freedom to reside where they choose.
The Governor of the state, Malam Nasir El-Rufai in a statement issued in Kaduna on Wednesday by his Spokesperson, Mr. Samuel Aruwan, said that the constitutional right of every Nigerian to own property, move freely and to live in peace and harmony is sacrosanct.
El-Rufai said that the State Government strongly condemns the inciting, hate speech delivered by some self-appointed “northern youths” seeking to target and violate the rights of our citizens of Igbo extraction.
The Kaduna State Government takes exception to the fact that the “northern youths” did their irresponsible press conference in Kaduna. This government has been consistent in taking action to punish hate speech and incitement. People who may feel unhappy about irresponsible comments or actions that have taken place in other states must know that two wrongs cannot make a right, and they cannot use our state to do or say things that threaten the peace.
He said that the state government has therefore ordered the arrest, investigation and prosecution of the signatories to the statement.
“The Kaduna State Government condemns in the strongest terms the press statement by some self-appointed “northern youths” that threatened the safety and property of our citizens of Igbo extraction. Government assures every resident of our state that their constitutional and human rights to live peacefully and own property wherever they choose is sacrosanct. Even people who may feel unhappy about irresponsible comments or actions that have taken place in other states must know that two wrongs cannot make a right.
“The Kaduna State Government believes in and will uphold the right of every Nigerian to live safely and develop his/her full potentials within its territory.
“Reckless disregard for the rights of other citizens drips through the press statement by these “northern youths” who have chosen to use the discourse around restructuring to promote their own agenda of hate, division and incitement. This sort of opportunists cannot be allowed to distort debate, or turn it into a pretext for a barely-disguised agenda of displacement and dispossession of some citizens.
“We will not tolerate such irresponsible statements and conduct in our state. The statement issued by the “northern youths” violates the laws of Kaduna State. Therefore, the Kaduna State Government has directed that its Ministry of Justice should prepare charges and prosecute the signatories and anyone complicit in arranging this egregious assault on the rights of fellow citizens.
“Preparatory to prosecution, the police have been directed to immediately arrest, interrogate the signatories to the statement and investigate all the circumstances and persons that may be implicated in the matter.
“The Kaduna State Government urges all residents to ignore the threats from the “northern youths”. We are in contact with the leadership of the Igbo community in Kaduna, and we delighted to say that this community, like all our other communities, believes in the strength of the constitutional order to protect all citizens.
“KDSG wishes to encourage all our people to celebrate the diversity with which the Almighty has blessed us, to continue to shun agents of division, and to stand firm in upholding a common humanity. Everyone has a right to live in peace and harmony.”
ACF Calls for caution…
The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has also called for caution following the statement issued by a Coalition of Northern Youth groups calling on Igbos currently residing in the Northern part of Nigeria to relocate to the East within three months, while Northerners in the East should do likewise.
The ACF in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Muhammad Ibrahim Biu, said the position of the groups was as a result of the persistent agitations of some members of the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) for the actualization of the Republic of Biafra, which have continued to threaten the unity, peace and corporate existence of Nigeria.
“The ACF want to draw the attention of all concerned, to note, that our democratic system of government which is anchored on law guarantees free movement of all Nigerians to any part of the country and to also pursue their legitimate livelihood devoid of any hindrance or molestation by any group or individuals. Furthermore, the system allows settlement of all grievances through our elected representatives in both the National and States Assemblies and the Law courts. Any act to the contrary, is therefore, a breach of law and order that are not helpful.
“ACF appreciates the frustrations of the Northern Youth Groups with the activities of MASSOB and IPOB members, but would not encourage any act that is not in conformity with the law by any group or individuals which will do no one any good. ACF therefore, appeals for caution over unguarded utterances or statements that are capable of jeopardizing the unity, peace and corporate existence of Nigeria. ”
Atiku says ultimatum, counter response by groups reckless, provocative
The Former Vice President and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar says the ultimatum issued by a Northern youth coalition to the Igbo to quit the region and the counter response by a South-East group is not only provocative, reckless and thoughtless, but also a grave threat to national security and peaceful coexistence.
Reacting to the ultimatum and the counter salvos in a statement by his Media Office in Abuja on Wednesday, the former Vice President explains that he was alarmed by the latest dangerous outbursts, warning that it does not augur well for the North and the country at large.
According to the Waziri Adamawa, for a country facing threats of disunity, such ultimatum and counter rhetoric at this time is most irresponsible and callous, because it is capable of setting off a chain of ugly events nobody could control.
The APC chieftain warns politicians of all hues to distance themselves from such divisive rhetoric because, according to him, the consequences of such association could ultimately consume them.
The Waziri Adamawa notes that all grievances must be peacefully discussed and resolved through negotiations, and not through threats to fellow citizens.
Atiku calls for restraint on all sides by the Youth groups to pave the way for meaningful dialogue on how to restructure our country for the good of all. “Our country is too precious; our problems are too pressing to pander to divisive rhetoric”.
However, the former Vice President appeals to the authorities to address the challenges of youth restiveness, as well as social and economic exclusion, which are the drivers of tensions.
He stresses that the country should not be afraid to confront the recurring clamour for restructuring, adding that burying problems under the carpet wouldn’t make those problems go away. On the contrary, he says, an ostrich attitude towards these challenges “could produce future complications beyond our capacity to manage.”
The statement that rattled Nigerians
This was the joint position paper by the Arewa Citizens Action For Change, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Arewa Youth Development Foundation, All Arewa Youth Forum, The Northern Professionals Business Group, Arewa Students Forum And Northern Emancipation Network on the Igbo persistence for secession of May 30, 2017
The persistence for the actualization of Biafra by the Igbo of South-Eastern Nigeria has lately assumed an alarming twist. The new dimension which involved the call for the forceful lockdown of activities and denying of the right to free movement recently in South-East by the rebellious Indigenous People of Biafra group is so disturbingly embarrassing that in our view, calls for a rethink. The latest action amounted to a brutal encroachment on the rights of those termed as non-indigenous people residing and doing lawful businesses in those areas illegally demarcated and defined as Biafra by the Igbo. Concerned by this ever-escalating threat, the above-named northern groups met at the end of which we came up with the following resolutions to be adopted as the position of the Northern Region:
- The Igbo people of the South-East, not repentant of the carnage it wrought on the nation in 1966, are today boldly reliving those sinister intentions connoted by the Biafran agitation that led to the very first bloody insurrection in Nigeria’s history.
- Emboldened by the apparent indifference of the Nigerian authorities, the Igbo secessionists tendency is widening in scope and action at every stage.
- As the threat widens and affects other law-abiding people of other tribes and regions residing in or passing through the East, the Igbo leaders and elders by their utterances and direct action or inaction appear to support and encourage it.
- While this intimidation and aggression persist and grow in dimension with each new move, leaders of the North whose people are at the receiving end of the threats appear helplessly unperturbed.
- Rather than endorsing a concise framework for preemptive action to protect and safeguard the interest of the North and its people, leaders of the region at every stage tend to recline on a flimsy and long-discarded excuse of having fought a civil war in the 60s to keep Nigeria united.
- Rather than pursuing a resolute action, the northern leaders have adopted and are dragging its people into a pitifully pacifist and defeatist position in order to sustain an elusive national cohesion that has long been ridiculed by the Igbo and other sections of the country.
- At this point we call the attention of the Nigerian authorities to the fact that the North, a critical player in the federal arrangement is no longer disposed to tolerating further Igbo blackmail and intimidation.
- In this respect, it is our considered view that rather than the Igbo continuing to hold the whole country to ransom, they should be allowed to go their own way.
- It is on record that the Igbo have done more damage to our collective nationhood than any other ethnic group in Nigeria:
- The Igbo was responsible for the very first violent interference with democracy in Nigeria resulting in a prolonged counterproductive chain of military dictatorship.
- The Igbo was responsible for the first and so far, only civil war in Nigeria that coated millions of lives and sowed the seed of the current mutual suspicion and distrust.
- Indisputably the Igbo is responsible for Nigeria’s cultural and moral degeneracy with the notoriety for all kinds of crimes including International networking for drug and human trafficking, violent robberies and kidnapping, high-profile prostitution and advanced financial fraud.
- It is also on record that since the inception of the current democratic dispensation, the Igbo has shown and maintained open contempt and dissension to the collective decision expressed by a majority of Nigerians at various stages through generally acceptable democratic processes.
- Having come this far, we wish to categorically state that the North is no longer keen in being in the same country with this unruly pack of unrepentant hooligans.
- That the North supports and encourages the authorities and other national and international stakeholders to allow the rebellious Igbo to go their way.
- That in the event the Igbo is not allowed to pull out; the North shall divorce this marriage that has never been convenient to any of the parties.
- That as a prelude we call on all Igbos currently residing in any part of Northern Nigeria to relocate within two weeks and northerners in the East should do likewise.
- That northern leaders are hereby warned against further insisting on this union with the Igbo or any other part of Nigeria that is disposed to self-determination.
In conclusion, we wish to draw the attention of the authorities and all other interest groups that there is nothing difficult or impossible for all the units that make up Nigeria to pull out if they so wish.
We cite the example of the split of several independent nations from the old Soviet Union, the separation of Pakistan from India, the recent divorce of South Sudan with the former Sudan and most recently, the exit of Britain from the European Union.