Osinbajo sues for peace •IPOB backs quit notice
The Eze N’digbo (traditional rulers) and leaders of Igbo socio-cultural associations in the North have vowed to resist any attempt by the Coalition of Northern Groups to chase them out of the region.
The coalition groups are: Arewa Citizens Action for Change, led by Nastura Ashir Sharif; Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, led by Shettima Yerima; Arewa Youth Development Foundation, led by Aminu Adam; and the Arewa Students Forum, led by Alfred Solomon.
Others are, Northern Emancipation Network, led by Abdul-azeez Suleiman; Northern Youth Vanguard, led by Joshua Viashman; Northern Youth Stakeholders Forum, led by Mohammad Mohammad; North-East Assembly, led by Mohammed Tasiupantami; and North Central People’s Front, led by Nathaniel Ajegenaadigizi.
Concerned by the outrage that greeted the declaration, Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, and the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, ordered the arrest of the signatories to the declaration, but none of the youths has been apprehended as of Saturday.
The tension generated by the declaration of the northern youths worsened on Friday afternoon, when a prominent member of the Northern Elders’ Forum, and former Ahmadu Bello University Vice Chancellor, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, threw his weight behind the coalition.
The group of northern elders also expressed “disappointment” with the Northern Governors’ Forum for disowning the coalition, insisting that it was hypocritical for the Igbo to continue to live in other parts of the country while agitating for Nigeria’s breakup.
Speaking with one of our correspondents, the Eze Ndigbo of Kano, Boniface Ibekwe, said the over three million Igbo indigenes in Kano would not leave the city with all their investments acquired over several decades.
He said, “We have advised our people to remain calm and that nobody should travel. The lives and property Igbo are secure. As far as I am concerned, no Igbo man has relocated with his family to the East. We are here and going about our normal business. The northern groups fanning the embers of war have never experienced the pains and after-effects of war because, if they had, they would always pray for the sustenance of peace, unity and stability.’’
Also, the Eze Ndigbo of Kaduna, Igwe Sylvanus Aneke, told one of our correspondents that his people were not afraid of the plans of the Arewa youths, especially when the Federal Government had stepped into the matter.
He said, “The youths have asked us to leave, but their parents, the police, the state government and the Federal Government have asked us to ignore the threat. We will rather listen to the elders and the government.
“Ango Abdullahi merely expressed his opinion. We are not taking him seriously because we are used to his antics. We are watching the events for now. We will take our decisions after we have watched, prayed and discovered that nothing has changed.”
The President General of the Igbo Community Welfare Association in Kaduna State, Chris Nnoli, also urged Igbo in the North to stay still.
He said, “It (the ultimatum) is a serious issue that should naturally be taken seriously. We are concerned, but since the Kaduna State Government has assured us of safety, we want to hold on to this assurance. I am greatly worried that up till this moment, nobody has been apprehended over the issue. We are watching events and we believe that government will intensify action and get the youths arrested. It is when we have seen that the government and the IG’s assurances are not effective that we will start to think of other means of seeking protection.”
The Eze Igbo III, Jos South in Plateau State, Lawrence Onwudinjo, who is also the President, Igbo Cultural Association, said no Igbo person would leave the North on account of any threat from any northern youth.
He said, “Igbo people in Plateau State are going nowhere. There is no right-thinking human being that will ask people to leave where they are living. This is one Nigeria where we are living. Nigeria belongs to all of us. I believe that if any part of the country needs anything, they should sit down together to discuss it. Everybody should come to a roundtable to discuss it.”
Another Igbo leader in Lantang, James Abraham, said no Igbo would relocate and that if they would have to move, northerners in the South-East should be waiting for their quit notice too.
He said, “If the Arewa youths tell us to leave the North, their kinsmen in the South-East should also be ready to leave. Do the Arewa youths have representatives in Plateau State? They should not be taken seriously.”
The President General of the Igbo community in Sokoto, Onyebuchi Uwaga, told SUNDAY PUNCH that, following the assurance from the government and the police, no Igbo would leave the North.
Also, the Ezeigbo I of Nasarawa State, Nathaniel Nduba, in calling for the immediate arrest of the Arewa youths in the interest of peace, pointed out that no Igbo person would leave the region, despite the threat given by the northern coalition.
A yam seller in Nasarawa, Mrs. Amaka Chukwudi, also said, “The threat by the AYCF was an empty threat. They forget that they have their brothers and sisters spread across other states. Has anybody asked them to leave? Why should the northerners give such an ultimatum?”
Igbo in Bauchi State, in reaction to the ultimatum, also stated that they would not leave the North.
One of them, Joshua Chukwu, said, ‘’For me, I will not take laws into my hands but will remain law-abiding, as the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria guarantees everyone, irrespective of tribe or origin, the right to reside in whatever part of the country he deems fit to pursue his legitimate business.”
Similarly, Igbo in Niger State told SUNDAY PUNCH that they would ignore the threat and carry on with their legitimate activities without exercising any fear.
A businessman, Tochukwu Chikwem, said he had no plans to send his family back to the East.
Another Igbo man in Minna, Felix Irojiogu, said, “They are seeking recognition or attention which they don’t deserve. They are wasting their time; government should arrest them for trying to cause problem in the country.”
In Katsina State, the mood of defiance was also noticed when a businessman, Jude Eze, said, “How can I listen to the rantings of those rascals? You should know they don’t know the consequences of what they are saying. It took our leaders and elders years of sweat, and some even paid with their lives, to get Nigeria to this stage and some boys who have never gone beyond their villages are saying we should pack our belongings and go. We are not going anywhere.”
Meanwhile, Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari, has assured non-indigenes in the state of their safety.
But in Sokoto State, some Igbo men have made up their minds to leave, stressing that anyone who ignores the Arewa youths’ threat would do so at his peril.
One of them, Uchendu Sunday, a father of three, who operates a patent medicine store at Mabera, in Sokoto, said, “I grew up in Kano. Sadly, my elder brother was killed there during a violent demonstration against the United States of America, when Osama bin Laden was declared wanted in 2001, after the bombing of the World Trade Centre.
“It was this sad memory that haunted me out of Kano to Sokoto. This is why I have decided to end my sojourn in the North and return to the East with my wife and three children. One thing I can assure you is that there will be an exodus of Igbo from the North, based on this ultimatum.”
In the East, various groups and associations said they had no intention of issuing a similar ultimatum to northerners living among them.
Speaking for Igbo youths, the President of Ohanaeze Youth Council, the youth wing of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Okechukwu Isiguzoro, said, “We will not ask northerners to leave. We will continue to show them love, as Igbo have done in the past.”
Reacting to the ultimatum, the leader of the northern community in Enugu State, Sarkin Hausawa, Idris Ado Suleiman, stated that they exercised no fear of any tit-for-tat response by their eastern hosts.
Suleiman said, “We have heard about the ultimatum. They said Igbo in the North should leave in three months. But we know it is not something that is possible.”
Osinbajo sues for peace
Acting President Prof Yemi Osinbajo on Saturday called on the various ethnic groups in Nigeria to live in peace, saying that in any marriage, there was tendency for disagreement.
Osinbajo spoke at the wedding of the daughter of the founding National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Chief Bisi Akande, Wuraola, and Dr. Olawale Solabi in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
The Acting President’s message came on the heels of an ultimatum issued by Arewa youth wings to Igbo people living in northern Nigeria.
Osinbajo said it was common for nations with different ethnic nationalities to experience quarrels among themselves like in any marriage.
According to him, agitations and quarrels can best be addressed when people give peace a chance and work in unity.
Osinbajo said, instead of fanning the embers of disagreement within ethnic groups, it would be better if understanding was allowed to prevail.
He said, “Marriage is a very large institution that requires a lot of prayers. It is the same marriage that nations go through. Our nation has been in marriage for a while now.
“Sometimes, there are quarrels within that marriage. Sometimes, there is disagreement. What is important is that you must remain together. You must remain united.”
Among dignitaries at the wedding ceremony were Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State; and Governor Muhammad Badaru of Jigawa State.
An ex-governor of Osun State, Olagunsoye Oyinlola and a former governor of Ekiti State, Segun Oni, were also present.
IPOB backs quit notice for Igbo
The Indigenous People of Biafra on Saturday supported the three-month quit notice served on the Igbo living in the northern part of the country by the Arewa youths.
IPOB, in a press statement made available to our correspondent in Awka by the group’s media and publicity secretary, Emma Powerful, commended the northern youths and Arewa Elders Forum for fast-tracking the Biafra exit with their pronouncements.
The group maintained that the quit notice had a human face, unlike the situation in the past, when the people perceived as Biafrans were attacked without any notice or provocation.
IPOB said it would prevail on Igbo living in the North to adhere to the quit notice.
The statement read, “Biafrans in general wish to thank these vocal northerners for at least having the courtesy to issue advance warning this time before embarking on their routine massacre of the Igbo and other Biafrans living in northern Nigeria; unlike what their fathers did in 1966.
“We promise to adhere to your warning to leave northern Nigeria because a word is enough for the wise. Biafrans and other southerners should start packing their belongings to come down to the South.
“We also advise the northern youths and their elders to keep it up because all they have done is to exercise their right to free speech which is not a crime under any law known to man.
“We are therefore against those calling for the arrest of these Arewa youths and their elders.”
‘Nigeria can’t afford another civil war’
A former Nigerian Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, and a former Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, Justice Mustapha Akanbi (retd.), have warned against any attempt to break Nigeria.
They cautioned that such an act could lead to another civil war and warned that Nigeria cannot afford another civil war, leading to another wanton destruction of lives and property.
Gambari spoke during the fifth convocation of Kwara State University in Malete, Moro Local Government of Kwara State, while Akanbi spoke on the sidelines of a summit organised by Home and Street Kids Welfare Initiative in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.
PANDEF seeks arrest of Arewa youths
The Pan Niger Delta Forum has condemned the ultimatum issued on the Igbo in the North by some Arewa youth groups.
It described the three-month quit notice as “an act of treason which portends great threat to the nation’s unity.”
PANDEF, led by Ijaw national leader, Chief Edwin Clark, said the group considered the statement by the Arewa youths as “too dangerous.”
The statement, signed by Dr. Alfred Mulade, called on northern state governments, elders, particularly the Arewa Consultative Assembly, in whose House the press conference was held, not only to condemn it but take concrete steps to reassure the Igbo of their safety in the region.
Igbo youths in North call for Ango’s arrest
The Ndigbo in the North, under the aegis of Northern Youth Council of Nigeria on Saturday demanded the arrest of Prof. Ango Abdullahi, the spokesman of the Northern Elders Forum.
Abdullahi had at a press conference on Friday backed the three-month ultimatum by a coalition of Northern group to the N’digbo in the region to vacate the place before October 1, 2017.
The group, at a press conference, by its spokesperson, Isa Abubakar, urged security operatives to immediately arrest the NEF spokesman, following what it described as his hate speech.
Why Urhobo can’t be part of Biafra — Urhobo leaders
Urhobo leaders, under the auspices of Urhobo Leaders of Thought, have condemned the proposed Biafra Republic map which included Urhobo as one its territory.
They maintained that Urhobo people did not share culture or customs with Igbo people in the southern part of the country.
ULT, in a statement by its Secretary-General, Mr Mumakai Unugha, on Saturday, also condemned the recent ultimatum issued to Igbo residents in the northern part of the country, describing it as reckless and provocative.
IYC asks FG to intervene in Arewa — Igbo conflict
The Ijaw Youth Council Worldwide has called on the Federal Government to show strong and purposeful leadership by stopping the building tension between the North and the Igbo .
IYC spokesman, Mr. Henry Iyalla, who spoke in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Saturday, decried the manner in which government was handling the quit order given to Igbo people living in the North.
Iyalla explained that it was necessary for the Muhammadu Buhari-led government to arrest the situation at its preliminary stage and not when it must have escalated.