Police launch manhunt for Arewa groups’ leaders
Says ‘we will implement same security strategy used for IPOB on Arewa Youths
•Puts AIGs, Command CPs on alert
•You must be combat ready, Reps tell security agencies
•Free speech taken too far – APC
By Our Reporters
ABUJA – THE Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, yesterday, ordered Assistant Inspectors-General of Police and state Commissioners of Police in the North to arrest and bring to book, those behind Tuesday’s three-month eviction notice to Igbo in the northern part of the country.
He also charged various State Police Commands to begin a manhunt for those beating the drums of war across the country, saying: “Anybody, individual or group that attempts to prevent any Nigerian from carrying out his daily activities, the constitution vests in us the responsibilities to ensure that those guys are stopped by all means.”
Idris spoke at Force Headquarters, during a meeting with 36 state Police commissioners and officers above the rank of commissioners.
The IGP’s order came as more reactions trailed the eviction notice with the House of Representatives asking the security agencies to be combat ready and the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, saying the threat was free speech taken too far.
The Kogi and Niger state governments condemned the threat and assured the Igbo that they were welcome in both states.
A host of groups, including the Eastern Consultative Assembly, ECA; Ijaw Youths, Niger Delta and Middle Belt groups pooh-poohed the Igbo eviction notice, which they dismissed as childish, thoughtless and invitation to anarchy.
However, the coalition of Arewa youth groups that issued the threat, insisted, yesterday, that they would not be in the same country with the Igbo just as Second Republic Politician and lawyer, Chief Guy Ikokwu, asked the 17 southern governors to meet urgently and take a position on the various challenges plaguing the country.
The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, also condemned the threat. The commission, in a statement by its Principal Public Affairs Officer, Mr. Mebrim Uchechukwu, described the quit notice as a “serious affront on human rights.”
Meanwhile, the South-East Governors and Senate Caucus have urged the Igbo to ignore the quit notice and remain wherever they are.
We have the responsibility to stop them – IGP
The IGP said: “I think the Nigerian Police Force have responsibility to stop these groups and I think the announcement was made by some groups that called themselves by Arewa; nobody has that authority to stop any Nigerian from participating or to reside in any part of this country.
“It is a constitutional right and I believe it is illegal and I think as CPs, AIGs of commands we have responsibility to ensure that these groups do not prevent other Nigerians from exercising their individual rights.
“I think it is very important and I want to use this opportunity to call all of you to prevent some of these groups that obviously are acting outside the constitution of the law of this country…we are not going to allow some of these groups to carry out these threats. These are the issues that we are here to discuss.
“I want all of us to be at alert, to note that anybody, individual or any 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.”
No arrest yet, we will handle them the way we handled IPOB
Regarding the number of persons arrested so far, following the directive by Kaduna State government to that effect, the IGP said no arrest has been made. He vowed that the police would tackle the threat of the Arewa youths through adoption of similar measures they used in handling the agitation of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign People of Biafra, MASSOB and the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
His words: “On the issue of the threat, of course you see the procedure that we adopted in dealing with the problem when this IPOB thing came up, last month. We are adopting the same procedure.
“We are just trying to ensure that no individual causes confusion in this country because making some of these threats constitute subversive activities against the security of the state and we cannot allow that to happen.
“Obviously, we are going to conduct investigation into it but you observe that one state government has issued a directive to the security agencies. Of course, you are aware that some of the security agencies in the state include our commissioners of police because they are members of the state security council from their various individual states.
“That is why I am issuing that order to all of them, as CPs. They are to ensure that the directive issued by the Kaduna State governor is carried out as far as there is an impediment to the law of this country.
You must be combat ready, Reps tell security agencies
Responding to the threat, members of the House of Representatives have asked the Nigerian Army and other security agencies to be on the alert to forestall the breakdown of law and order in the country.
The members, in a plenary, condemned in strong terms the stand of the Arewa youth and IPOB on Biafra and stressed the need for urgent intervention of the Federal Government to avert national crisis.
This was sequel to the adoption of the motion of urgent public importance moved by Rep Emma Oghene Egoh (PDP-Lagos), who stressed the need for Federal Government’s intervention to avert a looming disaster and the destruction of lives and property.
As part of MASSOB/IPOB’s campaign for the actualisation of Biafran Republic, it ordered Igbo people to ‘’sit-at-home’’ on May 30, 2017 to mark 50 years of the declaration of the republic and in honour of those who died during the civil war. The order was obeyed leading to a shut down of the South-East and some cities in the South-South.
Egoh said: ‘’The House is further concerned that this motion is not interested in the merit or demerit of Biafra, nor is it interested in apportioning blame on those who made the two unpatriotic calls.
“Rather its only concern is for the nation’s leaders to immediately intervene to stop these agitations from resulting in violence that may consume the entire nation and for the National Assembly and the Presidency to wade into the issue by dialogue with the protagonist of ‘come and leave our land’ and ‘return home immediately’ groups to avoid damage to our collective nationhood.”
To this end, the House urged both parties to rescind their decisions, just as the lawmakers called on Federal Government to urgently wade into the crisis on time in order to avoid loss of lives and properties that the actualisation of the parties’ threat may cause.
Ignore quit notice, South East Senate Caucus, Govs
Meanwhile, the South East governors and Senate Caucus, yesterday, asked all Igbo residing in the North to ignore the ultimatum given by some Arewa youth groups.
In a statement by its Chairman, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, the Caucus described the quit order as poisonous, irresponsible and aimed at dealing a deadly blow to Nigeria’s unity.
Abaribe said that Section 41 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 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 nonetheless asked the people to be very cautious and vigilant while going about their normal businesses.
“It is alarming that neither the police nor the DSS were 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 cast ominous sign in the corporate existence of Nigeria”, Abaribe said.
Also, the South-East Governors urged the Igbo to go about their normal business in the North as the governors and security agencies will not allow them to suffer any harm in the area.
At a press conference in the Government House Abakaliki, Chairman of the Governors Forum and Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief David Umahi, who described the relocation order as provocative, commended the presidency, Senate, security agencies, Kaduna State Governor and other stakeholders for rising up to the occasion by condemning the ultimatum.
“The attention of the South-East Governors Forum has been drawn to the widely publicized ultimatum credited to a coalition of 16 Northern youth associations demanding that Igbo in northern Nigeria should vacate the region within 90 days or before October 1, 2017 and equally urging northerners resident within the Igbo land to return to the North within the time frame. We have carefully considered the content of the highly provocative statement and reflected on its implications on Ndigbo and specifically on the nation in general.
“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 agitative but peaceful actions 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.
“The lives and property of law-abiding citizens of Igbo extraction are as precious as the lives and property of all Nigerians irrespective of the region of their abode within this republic. These must be guaranteed and defended against all forms of threats, both domestic and external, by the security forces/agencies of the federal republic of Nigeria. We the governors of the south east are collaborating effectively with the security agencies to ensure that no harm of any destruction is visited upon any law-abiding Nigerian citizen resident in the South East of Nigeria, including those from the North of Nigeria”, he said.
The motion was not debated.
Free speech taken too far – APC
The APC described the threat as free speech taken too far and urged security agencies to arrest those behind it.
In a statement by its Spokesman, Bolaji Abdullahi, the party said: “There are lawful laid down procedures for any form of agitation in a democracy. We observe that the nature and content of recent agitations clearly transcend the boundaries of the law and exceeds the limits of freedom of speech.”
The party said it was disturbed by the increasing spate of separatist agitation by individuals and groups in the country, saying, “the development is not healthy for our burgeoning democracy, the development and unity of our great country, Nigeria”.
While the party said, it submits to the inalienable right of citizens and groups to agitate for a legitimate cause, it said such advocacies must be done within the ambit of the law. “
The APC strongly condemns any utterance, ultimatum or actions that threaten our corporate existence as a country. The party is confident that our security agencies will investigate and prosecute promoters and sponsors of these provocative, divisive, inciting and undemocratic declarations and actions.
“We insist that despite our challenges, our strength lies in our diversity. This we must use to our advantage in our quest to lift the country to its deserved heights.
“The APC assures Nigerians that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is doing its best and is committed to accommodating all Nigerians, irrespective of religious, tribal and indeed political affiliation.”
Why southern governors must meet urgently – Ikokwu
Stressing the need for southern governors to meet urgently, Chief Ikokwu said: “There is, without any doubt, rising tension in Nigeria today as most law-abiding citizens across the length and breadth of Nigeria are alarmed at the turn of events in the land.
Due to the state of the nation’s economy, and the rising tide of criminality, kidnappings, violence across the country by armed herdsmen, graduates unemployment and increased rate of unemployment of high school leavers and the present unviability of about 30 out of the 36 states in the country. It is very clear to local and international observers that the Nigerian centre cannot hold.
As time is running out for a disciplined and courageous dialogue about the nation’s future, we of the South East, South South and South West of the country anxiously await the urgency of a Southern Governors Forum within the next 30 days.
Noting that northern governors have been meeting, he said: ‘’The silence of the Southern Governors is very embarrassing to southerners as a whole even though the various associations in the South have made it plain that they view with ultimate disdain such unguarded vituperations by some of those youths who clearly do not represent the ethnic diversities of the three zones in the North and had no such mandate.’’
Igbo secured in Niger, Kogi – Govs Bello
Niger State and Kogi State governments have condemned the eviction notice to Igbo in the North.
Specifically, Niger State Government assured all residents, irrespective of their state of origin of safety, stressing that the state is a safe place for all Nigerians.
The Commissioner for Information, Jonathan Tsado Vatsa, in a statement said the state had nothing to do with the purported statement by a group of northern youths directing all Igbo in the 19 northern states to move out of the region.
“We wish to categorically state that the people and government of Niger State have nothing to do with the purported statement by some elements under the aegis of Arewa Youths directing all Igbo in the 19 states of the northern region to move out of the region on or before October 1, this year.
“We condemn in clear terms the directive by this elements and view it as not only provocative but capable of creating unwarranted tension. The directive was a threat to the concerted efforts at ensuring the continued unity of the country.
“The group has no mandate of the people and government of Niger State and we hereby dissociate the state from the quit order handed down to our Igbo brothers and sisters. Niger State is not only safe for all Nigerians but a home to all law abiding citizens irrespective of tribe, race, creed or religion. We fully endorse the position of the Northern States Governors’ Forum as stated by the Chairman of the forum and governor of Bornu State, Alhaji Kashim Shetima. Nigerians should be allowed to determine where they will reside without any let or hindrance.”
The Commissioner said the governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello has directed the security agencies in the state to effect the immediate arrest and prosecution of anyone or group of individuals who may want to enforce the directive of the Arewa youths in the state.
Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, assured Igbo in the state of the readiness of his administration to continue to protect their interests, saying Nigeria will continue to be a united entity.
Speaking in Lokoja through his Director General on Media and Publicity, Kingsley Fanwo, he said:
“The Kogi State Government under the leadership of Alhaji Yahaya Bello wishes to assure all Igbo that they are not only safe in the state but that the administration will continue to consider Igbo resident in the state as partners in the New Direction Agenda of the government. Igbo should go about their legitimate businesses in the state as they continue to contribute to our economy as a state and a people.
“With the appointment of Igbo into strategic positions in Kogi State, we are making a strong case for social integration in Nigeria. Let me once more salute the courage and nationalism of the Kaduna State Governor who has shown with his recent actions that Kaduna will remain the home of all nationalities.”
Bello asked Northern leaders to continue to defend the interests and safety of non-Northerners living in the North, insisting that unity is more of an action than word.
Quit notice childish and thoughtless—ECA
The Eastern Consultative Assembly, ECA, yesterday described the “quit notice” given to Igbo to leave the North as “childish and thoughtless,” saying “that 47 years slavery by Ndigbo for losing a war would no longer be acceptable as we cannot take it any more.”
They further said that Ndigbo preferred “death in the process of fighting for our honour and dignity rather than eternal slavery.”
These were contained in a statement jointly signed by the Deputy National Leader and National Publicity Secretary of the ECA, Chief Maria Okwor and Rev Fr John Odey respectively, shortly after its 7th General Assembly in Enugu.
“We are tired of Nigeria as presently constituted,” they added, pointing out however, that the reactions of northern leaders who upbraided those who gave the quit notice but refused to address the issues at stake is insincere.
“A new constitution anchored on regional autonomy, is the only route open, to save Nigeria. It does not matter, that the oppressors, who have consistently shown the world, that, they are only good at mishandling self- determination agitations by always applying the wrong strategy, is at their usually folly again.
“What truly matters, is that the oppressed have resolved to get justice and nothing else as 47 years of servitude, for losing a war, is enough punishment, nothing will make this generation accept second class citizenship any more.’’
We insist, we’ll not be in the same country with Igbo—Northern groups
However, the coalition of Northern groups which gave the eviction notice, yesterday, remained vehement on their position, insisting they could not remain in the same country with the Igbo.
In a statement by Abdulazeez Suleiman, their spokesman, they carpeted Governors Nasir El Rufai and Kashim Shettima of Kaduna and Borno states respectively, on their stand against them, saying the governors were driven by their ambitions to be vice president.
“We restate that we have never called anybody to violence and that people should discountenance the elements of fear and threat introduced by the distortions of merchants of mischief. 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 recognized international bodies such as the ECOWAS, AU and UN to hasten the initiation of the process for the final actualization of the Biafran nation and with it the excision of the Igbos out of the present federation.”
Mr Abdulazzez Suleiman claimed that despite the “distortion” of their earlier statement, the feedback they got was that their message resonated with “peace-loving Nigerians who have been tormented and menaced by the irredentist proclivities of the Igbos and are overwhelmingly desirous to put an end to it”.
He said the group “are particularly disappointed by the treacherous positions assumed by Nasir Ahmed Elrufai 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.
Ijaws youths laud Middle Belt support for self determination
Also yesterday, the Eric Omare-led faction of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) worldwide commended the youths of the Middle Belt for distancing themselves from the quit notice issued to Igbo.
Omare, in a chat with Vanguard said the position of the Middle Belt Youth Council as contained in the statement issued by Emma Zopmal demonstrates maturity and respect for Nigerians from different parts of the country to express their opinion as to the structure of Nigeria.
The IYC leader said: “We state for the umpteenth time that Nigeria as presently structured is suffocating and is in dire need of urgent surgery to reconstruct it so as to achieve unity, peace and progress. It is in this light that we are gladdened by the expression of support for self-determination by the Middle Belt Youth Council. This is a clear message to the caliphate north and the Hausa/Fulani oligarchy that no amount of intimidation and threat would stop the movement for the reconstruction of Nigeria for it to work.”
It’s an invitation to anarchy —N-Delta group
The Pan Niger Delta Youth Leadership Forum, PANDYLF, while condemning the quit order, called on security agencies to arrest those behind it warning that the notice was an invitation to anarchy in the country.
National President of PANDYLF, Mr. Famous, Daunimeghe while reacting to the quit notice during an interview with Vanguard, in Abuja, described the threat as callous, insensitive and unnecessary distractions.
Okogie, CAN condemn quit notice to Igbo
Former Archbishop of Lagos, Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie who served as the chaplain to the Nogeria Army during the last civil war recalled a 1972 song by the legendary Afrobeat King, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, “Trouble sleep yanga go wake am”, saying that the song aptly summarises whats on ground today.
“Number one, we have a legitimate government in Nigeria today known as the Federal Government of Nigeria. What is our government doing? How can a part of the country and in this case some youths in the North, issue a quit notice to people to leave their territory? What right have they to say that these people should not come to their place?
“Nigeria is such a big entity. Instead of the Federal Government to muster all the powers available to them now and urgently deal with this group immediately…the power they have is not just dole out monies to the states of the federation or vice versa. It is also to provide security to all and sundry in every part of the country.
“There has been influx of arms and amunitions into the country, nobody has said anything concrete about such discoveries yet…all we have been told was that they have impounded so and so amount of weapons and have handed them to relevant military formations. How now can you now tell me that the northerners to tell the Yorubas, for example, to leave their land or to tell the Ibos to leave? Or the Ibos to tell anybody to leave their area?”
Also, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, National President, CAN, described the Coalition of Northern Youths as a group of “misguided and ethno-centric group that we do not need in this nation, saying: “even if the North were to be a country of its own, can they prevent any ethnic group from entering the country? Is their call not a violation of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria? The necessary authorities should place all such groups of youth on the watch list.”