By Luminous Jannamike, Abuja
The Northern Elders Forum, NEF, on Friday, said the comments by its spokesman, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, on the secessionist agitation by some Igbos were “authorised and represented its position”.
The Forum stated this in a statement in response to calls by the spokesman of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr Alex Ogbonnia, this week, for Baba-Ahmed’s arrest on the grounds that the broadcast by his NEF counterpart has become a threat to peace and unity of the country.
Baba-Ahmed, in a widely-circulated broadcast video which was recorded in Abuja nearly a year ago, said, “If secession is what every Igbo wants, and this is what the Igbos want, the nation should not fight a war over it”.
He went further to call on the northerners resident in Southern Nigeria to consider returning to the North.
Reacting to Ogbonnia’s call for Baba-Ahmed’s arrest, the Convener of NEF, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, said the Forum stands by the earlier comment made by the spokesman on the Biafra agitation.
He said, “My attention has been drawn to comments by spokesman of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Dr Alex Ogbonnia, on the Director of Publicity and Advocacy of Northern Elders Forum, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed. These comments are, to say the least, dangerous and irresponsible, designed to achieve only one goal: to put the life of Dr Baba-Ahmed in peril.
“The Northern Elders Forum states categorically that all comments and statements made by Dr Baba-Ahmed are authorized, and they represent its positions. The Press Statement which he read on the 8th of June,2021 at the Forum’s Headquarters in Abuja in presence of the full Forum was the Statement of the Forum by which it still stands.
“We are aware of attempts to create the impression that this Statement is recent, as well as other attempts to misrepresent its contents to create scapegoats for the failure to limit the damage of irredentism. In spite of many efforts to inform the public appropriately, it appears that Ohanaeze Ndigbo has fallen prey to more mischief, or is itself actively involved in incitement against a citizen.
The Forum stands by its Director of Publicity and Advocacy, a Nigerian whose pedigree and service to our nation has few parallels. It sees the claim that Dr Baba-Ahmed is a security risk, and the demand that he should be arrested as pathetic and beneath even the ordinary standards of Ohaneze Ndigbo. We serve notice that we know who to hold responsible in the event of any harm to Dr Baba-Ahmed.
“The Forum advises Ohaneze Ndigbo to focus its attention on contributing to securing people of the South East from multiple threats, and ensuring that Ndigbo has a befitting relevance in Nigeria.
“The Forum affirms its full confidence in Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, who will continue to serve the country and the North as we search for a future that accommodates all interests in Nigeria.”