Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja President Muhammadu Buhari and former Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole, ahead the June 2 National Convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC), met behind closed doors at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. Oshiomhole is contesting the national chairmanship of the ruling party. Read also: Why I want to be APC chairman – Oshiomhole…
• Igbo must go, Arewa youths insist amid reactions
• Kalu commends northern govs for intervention
The police, yesterday, read the riot act to Arewa youths under the aegis of the Coalition of Northern Youths (CNY) over their three-month eviction order to South-easterners to go back to their region.
The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, charged policemen in the North to, as a matter of urgency, commence a manhunt for those beating the drums of war across the country, even as he placed all Assistant Inspectors General of Police (AIGs) on red alert.
He also ordered Commissioners of Police in the North to arrest and bring to book masterminds of the Kaduna declaration or have themselves to blame.
“Any individual or group that attempts to prevent any Nigerian from carrying out his daily activities, we have responsibilities to ensure that those guys are stopped by all means,” he declared.
The IGP added: “I think they mention some dates; we have to be very conscious of those dates and ensure that those individual or groups do not hold down this country to sort of actualise the threats they made. We cannot allow it. I want all of us to be alert.”
IGP Idris’ order is coming at a time the Federal Government vowed to unleash the full wrath of the law on those fanning the embers of ethnic hatred, animosity, disunity and discord in any parts of the country.
According to the government, it would not allow any Nigeria residing anywhere to be molested.
Minister for Interior, Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazzau, who handed the warning in a statement, urged Nigerians to adhere strictly to the “teachings of our good values of religions and cultures that encourages good neighborliness, national unity, Integration, and love for one another.”
But an indication that the dust raised by the eviction order would not settle in a hurry has emerged, as the Arewa youths called the bluff of Dambazzau, the IGP and scathing condemnations by various persons and groups.
Members of the CNY said there was no going back on the October 1 eviction order.
In a statement issued after their meeting in Kaduna yesterday, the CNY insisted that the North would not be part of a federation that includes the Igbo.
“We urge the Federal Government, to, as a matter of urgency, initiate the process for a peaceful referendum to allow the Igbo to go. Let them go,” the group restated.
The statement signed by Abdulazeez Suleiman, said the coalition never called for violence or war against the Igbo, adding that the group’s statement last Tuesday was distorted.
“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 anytime, under whatever circumstances, called anybody to violence as a means of conflict resolution.”
The group also lashed at Governor Nasir El-Rufai and the Chairman of the Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF), who is governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima, for allegedly taking side with the Igbo for selfish political ambition.
It said: “We reiterate our call on the Nigerian authorities and recognised international bodies, such as the ECOWAS, AU and the 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.”
“We shall be firm and resolute in honestly and painstakingly pursuing what we all know is a noble and just cause without hurting anyone.
“We have taken time to analyse the reactions that trailed our declaration, and were nauseated by the comments of some disgruntled northern political power mongers.
“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.”
But despite their grandstanding, more reactions have continued to trail the order.
Individuals and groups that weighed in included South East Governors’ Forum (SEGF), former Abia governor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, South-East Senate Caucus, Femi Fani-Kayode, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Southern Nigeria Youth Youths Assembly.
Kalu described the threat by the CNY as unfair, uncivilised and barbaric, noting that national peace was not negotiable.
He commended the governors of the 19 northern states for their commitment to the indivisibility of Nigeria, noting that their actions would go a long way in strengthening the peaceful co-existence among all ethnic groups.
He noted that the heterogeneous nature of Nigeria should be seen as an advantage, stressing that regardless of ethnic, religious and political sentiments, Nigerians were known to be peace-loving and accommodating.
Kalu, who spoke with a group of Igbo businessmen that paid him a visit in Lagos, called on Ndigbo to be calm, steadfast and law abiding.
He said: “It is a known fact that Igbo are the salt of the nation. The entrepreneurship drive of Ndigbo has contributed immensely to the growth and development of Nigeria.
“Ndigbo should be celebrated for providing employment opportunities and wealth to the teeming Nigerian populace through their enormous investments across the country out of which N45 trillion is in the North.
“As a statesman, I am an advocate of peace and harmony and we shall continue to spread the message of togetherness, brotherhood, patriotism and selflessness.
“In a society, differences are bound to occur but they should be resolved amicably without disrespect to the rule of law. Even in a family, husband and wife do quarrel over trivial issues, but it is usually resolved at bedtime or over dinner. We should adopt mechanisms of peaceful conflict resolution when there are grievances.”
He called on MASSOB, IPOB and others to convey their agitations to appropriate authorities through dialogue, constructive criticisms and engagement, as against using illegal means.
Kalu said Igbo were married to northerners and vice versa and as such, there was no basis for disaffection between the two ethnic groups or any other ethnic group.
The former governor charged governors of the South East states to further ensure the protection of life and property of northerners living in the South East, as a way of reciprocating the gesture of the northern governors.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the SEGF and governor of Ebonyi State, Chief David Umahi, has assured Ndigbo living in all parts of the North of their safety, even as he urged them not to be intimidated by the quit notice.
“The lives and properties of law-abiding citizens of Igbo extraction are as precious as the lives and properties of all Nigerians, irrespective of region and these must be guaranteed and defended against all forms of threats, both domestic and external by the security forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“We must call on all serious minded patriots, particularly the religious leadership in Northern Nigeria and all other relevant stakeholders to rise with voices of peace and wisdom to counteract the mischievousness and exuberant excesses of the northern youths.”
The South East Senate Caucus, in a statement signed by its chairman, Enyinnaya Abaribe, described the quit order as poisonous, irresponsible and aimed at dealing a deadly blow to Nigeria’s unity.
Abaribe said Section 41 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, firmly guaranteed 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,” he said.
The caucus asked Ndigbo to be 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 by the so-called Arewa youths.
The caucus appealed to the Federal Government to direct the security agencies to be above board and nip “this dangerous and highly divisive threat in the bud, in the interest of the country’s unity.”
In his reaction, Comrade Peter Anigbogu, national chairman of Non-Indigenes Cultural Association, thanked Governor El-Rufai for his quick intervention by ordering the arrest of the “recalcitrant Arewa youths.”
According to him, “Nigeria belongs to all of us, and we must feel at home anywhere in the country and maintain peace and order wherever we find ourselves.”
Also, the House of Representatives adopted a motion condemning the eviction notice and called on the Federal Government to wade into the matter immediately to avoid loss of life and property that “the actualisation of the parties’ threat may occasion.”
It also called on security agencies to be on alert to prevent unscrupulous elements from “taking advantage of the two unpatriotic calls.”
This was sequel to a motion moved under matters of urgent public importance by Oghene Egoh.
On his part, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, former Minister of Aviation, said northern youths must be told in clear terms that this is not 1966.
He said any pogrom or slaughter of Igbo in the north would lead to a swift, immediate and devastating retaliation throughout the South.
Said he: “Those that gave the Igbo quit notice in the North are playing with fire and that fire will consume them. They are opening the gates of hell and they will enter that gate.
“They are plunging us into darkness and we shall enter that darkness together. Nigeria belongs to us all.”
He urged the core Muslim northern elders and leaders to call their youths to order before they spark off a series of events and a crisis that may not only lead to a second civil war but will also lead to the end of Nigeria.
“This time around the Igbo are not alone. An attack on them is an attack on every southerner and every Middle Belter. And such an attack will have grave and unfathomable consequences,” he declared.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) commended the proactive and decisive action taken by northern governors and political leaders on the issue.
In a release signed by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, the party said: “We are delighted to see that the pressures mounted by the various leaders have forced the group to reverse its misguided ultimatum and threat.
“However, our party remains disturbed by the increasing spate of separatist agitations by individuals and groups in the country.
“While we affirm the inalienable rights of citizens and groups to agitate for legitimate causes, as a key ingredient of participatory democracy, we believe that such agitations should be guided by the extant laws of the country and established democratic norms.”