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Says security agencies ready to deal with any threat
Following Tuesday’s ultimatum by a coalition of northern youth groups that all Igbos living the Northern region should quit the region before October 1, 2017, the Federal Government on Wednesday assured all Nigerians of safety and security, saying that Ndigbo are safe in any part of the country.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who gave the assurance while responding to questions at the end of the Federal Executive Council meeting held at the Presidential Villa on Wednesday, said “the threat is not new.”
This is even as the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, has ordered the arrest of the arrowheads/masterminds of the press conference where the ultimatum was issued.
Similarly, former Vice President and chieftain of All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has condemned, in strong terms, the ultimatum and the counter response by a South-East group, describing it as provocative, reckless and thoughtless.
The Minister of Information, while reacting to a question of the ultimatum to the Igbos to quit the Northern part of the country, said: “It is not the first time that different groups will issue such threats. The threat is being handled by the relevant agencies of government.
“It is not new, but what I want to assure you is that the security agencies are on top of the situation,” he added.
Also, the Kaduna State Government has assured every resident of the state that nobody can tamper with their freedom to reside where they choose.
In a statement issued in Kaduna on Wednesday, the state government said that the constitutional right of every Nigerian to own property, move freely and to live in peace and harmony is sacrosanct.
Addressing a press conference on Wednesday in Kaduna, the governor condemned the action of the coalition and assured every resident of Kaduna State that “nobody can tamper with their freedom to reside where ever they choose.
Governor el-Rufai, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Media, Samuel Aruwan, condemned the development, saying his administration took exception to any hate speech emanating from any group in whatever guise.
He said: “This government has been consistent in taking action to punish hate speech and incitement.
“People who may feel unhappy about irresponsible comments or actions that have taken place in other states must know that two wrongs cannot make a right and they cannot use our state to do or say things that threaten the peace.
”Kaduna State government has therefore ordered the arrest, investigation and prosecution of the signatories to the statement.
“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.
“Government assures every resident of our state that their constitutional and human rights to live peacefully and own property wherever they choose is sacrosanct.
“Even people who may feel unhappy about irresponsible comments or actions that have taken place in other states must know that two wrongs cannot make a right”.
Meanwhile, Governors of the nineteen northern states on Wednesday disowned a coalition of Arewa Youths which issued ultimatum to Igbos to vacate the northern part of Nigeria before October 1 or be forced to leave.
Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum and Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, spoke on behalf of his colleagues in Maiduguri on Wednesday evening.
The Governors said they are in touch with heads of their security agencies and have taken measures that will guarantee the rights of all Nigerians to live in of the 19 States in the geo-political zones within the north.
They equally also called on security agencies to arrest the youths and probe the motive behind the call, saying the call by the youths was a suspicious act that falls in line with recent trend of arms catch and coup rumours which may not be coincident.
Shetima said: “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.
“Section 41, Subsection 1 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is very explicit in safeguarding the rights of all Nigerians to reside in any part of the country with no hindrance whatsoever.
“But then, when you see a toad dancing in the broad daylight, the drummer is not far off from the main road.
“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.
Also condemning the ultimatum issued by a coalition of Northern youth groups to the Igbos to quit the region and the counter response by a South-East group, former Vice President and chieftain of All Progressives Congress (APC),
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, declared that the ultimatum is also a grave threat to national security and peaceful co-existence.
Visibly angry Atiku, in a statement on Wednesday from his media office, said: “The ultimatum issued by a Northern youth coalition to the Igbos to quit the region and the counter response by a South-East group is not only provocative, reckless and thoughtless, but also a grave threat to national security and peaceful coexistence”.
The former Vice President explained that he was alarmed by the latest dangerous outbursts, warning that it does not augur well for the North and the country at large.
The APC chieftain told politicians of all hues to distance themselves from such divisive rhetoric because, according to him, the consequences of such association could ultimately consume them.
Meanwhile, the FCT chapter of the Ohaneze Ndigbo while reacting to the development on Wednesday advised the youths of Igbo extraction living in the Northern part of the country to go on their normal business with no fear or favour.
Speaking through its President, Chief Odozi Nwaodozi, the Ohaneze Ndigbo condemned what he described as “Arewa Youth xenophobic attack on the Igbos.
He recalled that the Igbos had in the history of Nigeria suffered ethnic disparity and developmental neglect that has prompted the call for the balance and equitable sharing of the nation’s resources.
Also, a pro- democracy and non-governmental organisation, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has asked the international community to hold President Muhammadu Buhari responsible should the Northern youths make good their violent threats to sack Igbo from Northern states.
In a statement Jointly endorsed by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, and the National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA said it has written to major embassies in Nigeria calling the attention of the global community to the well-orchestrated plot backed by the political hawks in the North to wage another campaign of genocide against the Igbo residing peacefully in Northern Nigeria.
It would be recalled that a coalition of northern youth groups on Tuesday declared that the north could no longer co-exist with the Igbo. The group issued a three months ultimatum to all the Igbos residing in northern part of the country to leave.
The declaration was jointly signed by various groups which include Arewa Citizens Action for Change, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Arewa Youth Development Foundation, Arewa Students Forum and Northern Emancipation Network, but it is unclear if known officials of any of the groups actually signed the document.
However, Chairman, Northern Youth Vanguard (NYV), Mr. Habib Olanipekun, has called on the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Ibrahim Idris, to investigate statement ultimatum by a coalition of northern youth groups asking Igbos to leave the north within three months.
The group in a statement made available to The Daily Times charged the IGP to do everything possible to ensure that those responsible for the inciting statement are brought to book.
Describing the call to sack Igbos in the North by the group as the height of irresponsibility, the NYV urged all the Igbos living in the North to go about their lawful businesses without fear or intimidation from anyone.