Quit notice to Igbo: FG, northern govs, Afenifere, ACF, others condemn threat
The police on Wednesday said they had deployed detectives to arrest northern youths, who ordered Igbo to quit the North before October 1, 2017.
The groups had, on Tuesday, issued a three-month ultimatum to people of Igbo extraction, resident in the 19 states in the North, to leave the North or be forced out before October 1, 2017.
A prepared text of a press conference addressed by the groups was signed by the leaders of the various groups.
Those who signed the groups’ statement are Nastura Sharif (Arewa Citizens Action for Change); Amb. ShettimaYerima (Arewa Youth Consultative Forum); Aminu Adam (Arewa Youth Development Foundation); Alfred Solomon (Arewa Students Forum); Abdul-Azeez Suleiman (Northern Emancipation Network) as well as Joshua Viashman (Northern Youth Vanguard).
“We are also telling our brothers (northerners) out there in the South-East to get prepared to come back home,” Yerima had said.
The National President of the Northern Emancipation Network, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, who read the text of the press conference, alleged that the Igbo had become a threat to the unity of the country.
The Kaduna State Police spokesman, Aliyu Usman, disclosed this in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, just as the Force Headquarters said it had directed police formations across the country to beef up security.
Usman stated that police took the decision to arrest the youths before the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, issued the directive that the men should be arrested.
“We have already deployed our men to arrest the members of the groups that issued the ultimatum; we are working to apprehend them as part of our investigation into the declaration,” he stated on Wednesday.
Curiously, while the police said they had sent detectives to arrest the youth, members of the groups that issued the ultimatum were holding another meeting in Kaduna on Wednesday.
When contacted at 7.32pm on Wednesday, the National President of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Yerima Shettima, said members of the groups were meeting.
When asked to comment on the order by el-Rufai that the youth should be arrested, Shettima said, “Please, we are meeting now on the matter. When we finish, we shall let you know the outcome of our meeting. I will get back to you once we end our meeting please.”
On its part, the Force Headquarters said it had beefed up security nationwide and deployed more operatives in major cities to forestall a breakdown of law and order.
The Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, said the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, had also directed command Commissioners of Police and Assistant IGPs in charge of zonal formations to ensure enforcement of the law in their jurisdictions.
Moshood said, “Before now, we had beefed up security across the country, and we are increasing deployment and patrol across major cities to ensure law and order not only in the North, but in every part of the country, we are improving on that.
“The IG has directed all commissioners of police and AIGs in charge of zones to ensure absolute enforcement of law and order and protection of lives and property.”
Asked if the police would arrest the members of the group behind the anti-Igbo declaration, Moshood claimed that he had not “seen” the ultimatum, more than 24 hours after the threat was reported by the media.
“I have not seen any ultimatum. It’s only in the media and the police will not be mixed up in politics. We are to ensure law and order, which is what we are doing. Anybody who now comes out to threaten the lives of others, the law will take its course,” he stated.
El-Rufai orders arrest, prosecution of masterminds
Earlier on Wednesday, el-Rufai had ordered the immediate arrest and prosecution of the leaders of northern coalition groups that threatened the safety and property of citizens of Igbo extraction in the region on Tuesday.
El-Rufai, through his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr. Samuel Aruwan, at a press conference in the state capital, ordered the police to immediately fish out those behind the threat statement as well as their sponsors for immediate prosecution.
He stated that the representatives of the groups had violated the law of the state by issuing such threats within the state, saying they would not be spared.
He said, “The Kaduna 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 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 are delighted to say that this community, like all our other communities, believes in the strength of the constitutional order to protect all citizens.
“The Kaduna State Government takes exception to the fact that the ‘northern youths’ held their irresponsible press conference in Kaduna.
“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.”
El-Rufai mandated the state Ministry of Justice to commence the process of prosecuting the signatories to the said press statement as well as their sponsors.
“Preparatory to prosecution, the police have been directed to immediately arrest and interrogate the signatories to the statement and investigate all the circumstances and persons that may be implicated in the matter.”
Buhari backs el-Rufai for the arrest of youth leaders
Also, President Muhammadu Buhari commended el-Rufai for ordering the arrest of leaders of the Coalition of Northern Youths, who asked Igbo to leave the northern part of the country within three months.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the President’s position known through his twitter handle, @MohammedLai, where he wrote: “President Buhari commends the Kaduna State Government for arresting those miscreants jobless youths.
“The Buhari Administration vehemently condemns such a wicked plan by faceless northern youths to evict Igbos from the North. This is their country na.”
Security agencies on red alert over ultimatum –FG
Meanwhile, the Federal Government, on Wednesday, said security agencies were already on the alert over the threat statement by some people claiming to be northern youths.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Mohammed, said this while answering questions from State House correspondents after the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Mohammed assured Nigerians that security agencies were on top of the matter, adding that the statement was capable of destabilising the country.
He stated, “The issue of one or two groups issuing statements that are capable of destabilising the polity and being responded to by another group, I think, did not just start today or did not start yesterday.
“What I want to assure you is that security organisations are very, very much on top of this matter.”
When asked whether the issue of the ultimatum came up for discussion during the FEC meeting, the minister said it did not come up.
Disregard ultimatum, interior minister tells Nigerians
Also, the Minister of Interior, Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (retd.), in his reaction, asked Nigerians to discountenance the statement by the northern youths, stating that citizens were free to live anywhere they like.
He said in a statement that the government would punish any individual or group violating the rights of other citizens.
“The minister called on all well-meaning Nigerians to go about their normal activities as government would bring to bear the full weight of the law on any individual or group violating the rights of citizens of the country,” Dambazau said in the statement by his Press Secretary, Ehisienmen Osaigbovo.
Northern govs, ACF, Afenifere, others condemn statement, demand arrest
Also, governors of the 19 northern states, on Wednesday, disowned the groups that issued ultimatum to Igbo to vacate the northern part of Nigeria within three months or be forced to leave.
Specifically, the governors called on security agencies to arrest the youth leaders and probe the motive behind the call.
The NSGF said the call by the youths was a suspicious act that fell in line with recent trend of arms catch, coup rumour, which might not be a mere coincidence.
The Borno State Governor and Chairman of the Northern States Governors’ Forum, Kashim Shettima, spoke on behalf of his colleagues in Maiduguri.
The governors said they had taken measures that would guarantee the rights of all Nigerians to live in the 19 states in the geo-political zones within the North.
The NSGF stated, “On behalf of the governors of the 19 northern states, we totally condemn such irresponsible pronouncements by those groups; we condemn, we disown and we are totally distancing ourselves from those faceless groups, who don’t have the mandate of the people of northern Nigeria to make such loud pronouncements.
“We wish to call on the security agencies to beam their lenses on these groups, and unearth the faces behind the mask. Some months back, there were cases of importation of arms, illegal importation of arms intercepted at the ports; then, we started hearing rumours of a coup d’etat.
“Now, a group, or a bunch of groups that do not have the mandate of the people came up with remarks capable of destabilising the North and the country as a whole.
“We are one nation tied to a common destiny. The governors of northern Nigeria are not in alignment with those pronouncements, and we will take whatever measures that are necessary to safeguard the lives and properties of Nigerians living in any part of the North.
‘‘I am in contact with most of my colleagues, and they are all talking to heads of security establishments in their respective domains because we cannot afford to take chances.”
In its own reaction, the umbrella body for the North, the Arewa Consultative Forum, and the Sarkin Fulani Nasarawa, Senator Walid Jibrin, condemned in strong terms the ultimatum which, according to the coalition would expire on October 1, 2017.
The National Publicity Secretary of the ACF, Alhaji Muhammadu Ibrahim, in a statement, distanced the Forum from the ultimatum.
He noted that democracy guaranteed the freedom of movement of all citizens to all parts of the country in pursuit of their legitimate business devoid of hindrances from any individual or groups.
The ACF said it appreciated the frustrations of the Indigenous People of Biafra, MASSOB and the Northern Youth Groups, but said it would not encourage any act that was not in conformity with the law by any group or individuals which would do no one any good.
The ACF then appealed for caution over unguarded utterances or statements that were capable of jeopardising the unity, peace and corporate existence of Nigeria.
Jibrin, who is also the Chairman, Board of Trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party, condemned the action of the youths, noting that all Nigerians, irrespective of their tribes, had the right to live in any part of the country.
Saying he was not speaking for the PDP, he added that the Igbos were broad-minded people, who had, over the years, helped to develop the economy of the North.
He described as unacceptable any move, asking the Igbo to leave the region.
Jibrin said, “Our past experiences of Biafran war will never allow any northerner or Igbo man to pray for the bad experiences of the Biafran war.
“I want to remind the group calling for Igbos to leave the North that there are equally many northerners living comfortably anywhere in the South-Eastern Nigeria and who have well established businesses in the Igboland.”
Meanwhile, the Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, has condemned the statement attributed to the northern youths, describing it as wrong-headed.
The group’s spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, said the youth had further stoked the tension in the country with their thoughtless declaration, noting that the security agencies should arrest them.
He said, “Look at the fragile unity in the country, the tension in the land and for a group of youths to gather in Arewa House and make this declaration is uncalled for. I expect elders in the North to rein them in and for them to withdraw the ultimatum.
“This is why Afenifere has been canvassing for the restructuring of Nigeria because many constituent units in the country are not happy with the way Nigeria is today and the best approach is a negotiated settlement on the terms of our unity.”
Threats by youths reckless, provocative, says Atiku
Also, Vice-President Atiku Abubakar said the ultimatum issued by the northern youth coalition to the Igbo and the response by a South-East group were not only provocative, reckless and thoughtless, but also a grave threat to national security and peaceful coexistence.
Atiku said this in a statement by his Media Office in Abuja on Wednesday.
The former Vice-President, who is also a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, said he was alarmed by the latest dangerous outburst, warning that it did not augur well for the North and the country at large.
“Atiku Abubakar 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,” he stated.
Prepare to defend yourselves, Ohanaeze youth wing tells Igbo in North
Meanwhile, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council, the youth wing of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, on Wednesday, told Igbo living in the North to prepare to defend themselves against possible attack by northerners.
Addressing journalists after a meeting in Enugu, National President of the OYC, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, said the ultimatum issued to Igbo by the northern groups was a call to arms, and should be treated as such by security agencies.
“Igbo resident in the North should get ready to defend themselves in the event of any provocation and attack from the Arewa youths,” Isiguzoro said.
He noted that the development could lead to another civil war in the country.
The Ohanaeze youth leader said, “They are at it again and this is a sad reminder of the civil war. This is how it started as a joke and before we knew it, a coordinated and simultaneous attack was launched against the Igbo in the North.
“This is a sad development considering the efforts being made to unite this country. This is a sad commentary considering the sacrifices Igbos have made in this country.
“We, however, wish to state unequivocally that the Igbo are not cowards. We are not afraid of Alhaji Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, Yerima Shettima and their cohorts.
“Ndigbo want to make it categorically clear that we are ready for them. We cannot be intimidated by their ranting.”
Also, the Eric Omare-led faction of the Ijaw Youth Council Worldwide described the threat by northern youths as baseless and senseless.
Omara, in a statement on Wednesday, contended that there was absolutely nothing wrong in the Igbo agitation for self-determination.
The factional IYC President added, ‘’Therefore, the Igbo agitation for Biafra cannot justify the demand to move out of northern Nigeria.
‘’We believe there are criminally-minded persons who want to hide under the umbrella of speaking for the North to loot property belonging to Igbos in the North that are making the demand.
‘’We call on security agencies to as a matter of urgency move against the brains behind the ultimatum to Igbos in the North.
But a group of Nigerians, under the auspices of the South-East/South-South.
Network, asked security agencies to immediately arrest the leaders of the northern groups, who issued the ultimatum to the Igbo on Tuesday.
In an electronic mail sent to one of our correspondents by the leader of the SESSNet, Mr. Daniel Elombah, who said the group was made up of professionals, students and activists from the South-East and South-South, called on security agencies to arrest “these jobless youths and their sponsors.”
It added, “We will not take excuse from security agencies if anything happens to our people in the North. Those youths should be treated like criminals by security agencies and we are watching to see what the DSS will do on this matter. If any Igbo is killed in the North, the leadership of the groups should face the consequences.”
In its own reaction, the Pan Niger Delta Forum, an umbrella body for Niger Delta leaders, condemned in strong terms the ultimatum of the Arewa youth groups.
It noted that the “quit notice” was highly treasonable and portended great threat to the nation’s unity.
PANDEF which is under the leadership of Ijaw national leader, Chief Edwin Clark, said the group considered the statement by the Arewa youths as the most dangerous statement ever made by any group to the unity and existence of Nigeria since the end of the Civil War.
In a statement on behalf of the group by a member of the Central Working Committee, Dr. Alfred Mulade, PANDEF called on northern state governments, elders, particularly the Arewa Consultative Forum to take concrete steps to reassure the safety of Igbo in the region.
Leave the North, MASSOB tells Igbo
In its own view, however, the Movement for Actualisation for the Sovereign State of Biafra said it gave “100 per cent support” to the threat issued by the northern youth groups.
Reacting to the threat, MASSOB leader, Uchenna Madu, said the pro-Biafran agitators were aware that the “notice to quit” would come, alleging that northern leaders sponsored their youths to threaten Igbo having seen that Biafra was a reality.
The statement added, “As a matter of facts, this is the only rascality exhibited by sponsored Arewa youths to forcefully exit the people of Biafra residing in Arewa land that MASSOB will hundred percent support.”
Take threat seriously, VC urges FG
In his own reaction, the Vice-Chancellor of the Kwara State University, Malete, Prof.
AbdulRasheed Na’Allah, urged the Federal Government and security agencies to take seriously the threat against the Igbo in the North.
He urged the government to nib the crisis in the bud and forestall another violence that could lead to the destruction of human lives and property.
Speaking during KWASU’s 5th convocation media conference in Malete, Moro Local Government Area of Kwara State, the VC cautioned the northern groups, the Indigenous People of Biafra and the Movement for the Sovereign State of Biafra against acts that could plunge the nation into another civil war.
He said, “We should take the lessons of the war, become tolerant of each other, true brothers of one another; and do great things that will see that never again
will Nigeria go back to that calamity. It was a calamity. It shows that we have not learnt good things from the experience.”Punch