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- Plead for Igbo to have Biafra
-By Adetutu Folasade-Koyi & Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye , Abuja
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A new twist emerged in the October 1, 2017 quit notice handed down to Igbo living in the North, yesterday, as Arewa youths pleaded with the Federal Government to arrange a plebiscite, which would allow the South-east have Biafra Republic.
Leaders of Arewa Citizens Action for Change, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Arewa Youth Development Foundation, Arewa Students Forum and Northern Emancipation Network, in a letter dated June 19, 2017 and signed by Shettima Yerima, Joshua Viashman, Aminu Adam, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman and Nastura Ashir Sharif, and addressed to Acting President Yemi osinbajo, said Federal Government should allow a peaceful process that would excise the South-east from the federation.
“While we do not see this clamour for Biafra as an issue over which a single drop of blood should be shed, we, at the same time, insist that the Igbo be allowed to have their Biafra and for them to vacate our land peacefully so that our dear country Nigeria could finally enjoy lasting peace and stability,” the coalition said.
The letter read further:
“Concerned by the fact that the Biafrans have confessed to arming themselves for a violent breakup, we feel that it is risky for the rest of the country, particularly the North, to go on pretending that it is safe for us to cohabitate with the Igbo given how deeply they are entrenched in our societies.
“And, since evidently, the Igbo have not been sufficiently humbled by their self-imposed bloody civil violence of 1966, we are strongly concerned that nothing short of granting their Biafran dream will suffice.
“And, since the Igbo have virtually infiltrated every nook and cranny of Northern Nigeria where they have been received with open arms, as fellow compatriots, we strongly believe that the region is no longer safe and secure in the light of the unfolding threats and the fact that for a long time, the Igbo have gone to extraordinary length to ensure that in their domain in the South East, northerners and westerners are as much as possible disenfranchised from owning any businesses whereas, in Kano alone,
they own not less than 100,000 shops across all the business districts.
“That, since the younger generation of Nigerians makes up for more than 60 percent of the nation’s population, it is our hope that they inherit this country in better shape so that they can build a much better future for themselves and their offspring in an atmosphere that is devoid of anarchy, hate, suspicion and
negativity that characterise the polarised, and clearly irreconcilliable differences forced on us by the Biafran Igbo.
“To make a bad situation even worse, their leaders have continued to show support for this treacherous cause and, thus, giving credence to our concern that what they say against us is what they truly mean and intend – ‘kill everyone in the zoo’ (North).”
The Arewa youths said they could not afford to discard the threat as mere mischief as the utterances that caused the Rwandan genocide was still fresh in the mind.
The youths said while they are not waging war or calling anyone to violence, they averred they were, also, not willing to continue tolerating the “malicious campaign and threats of war that the Igbo have continued to wage against us.
“Neither can we afford to continue giving the keys to our cities to a people whose utterances, plans and arrangements are clearly geared towards war and anarchy.
“We, therefore, demand that the only enduring solution to this scourge that is being visited on the nation is complete separation of the states presently agitating for Biafra from the Federal Republic of Nigeria through a peaceful political process by:
“Taking steps to facilitate the actualisation of the Biafran nation in line with the principle of self-determination as an integral part of contemporary customary international law.
“The principle of self-determination has, since World War II become a part of the United Nations Charter which states in Article 1(2), that one of the purposes of the UN is ‘to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples.
“We submit that this protocol envisages that people of any nation have the right to self-determination, and although the Charter did not categorically impose direct legal obligations on member states; it implies that member states allow agitating or minority groups to self-govern as much as possible.
“This principle of self-determination has since been espoused in two additional treaties: The United Nations Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights and the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Article 1 of both international documents promote and protect the right of a people to self-determination. State parties to these international documents are obliged to uphold the primacy and realization of this right as it cements the international legal philosophy that gives a people the right to self-determination.
“As the Igbo agitations persist and assume threatening dimensions, we submit that there is need to ensure that they are given the opportunity to exercise the right to self-determination as entrenched under the aforementioned international statutes to which Nigeria is a signatory.”
The Arewa youth coalition said given that the right of self-determination in international law was the legal right for a ‘people’ that allowed them to attain a certain degree of autonomy from a sovereign state through a legitimate political process, “we strongly demand for a referendum to take place in a politically sane atmosphere where all parties will have a democratic voice over their future and the future of the nation.
“The Igbo from all over the country and Diaspora should be advised to converge in their region, in the South-East, for a plebiscite to be organised and conducted by the United Nations and other regional bodies for them to categorically to decide between remaining part of Nigeria or having their separate country.”
The group said government should, at the end of the plebiscite, “implement whatever was agreed and resolved in order to finally put the matter to rest.”
Regardless, a top Presidency source, who declined to be named, because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, told Daily Sun that “ongoing consultations with leaders of thoughts and traditional rulers from the North and South-east, following escalation of ethnic tensions, occasioned by the agitation for Biafra and the vacation order issued by northern youths, was the best way to approach the issue.
“Our response is the ongoing consultations the acting president is engaged in with leaders of thought from both regions. It is the best way to get everyone to see reason. The Presidency doesn’t want to escalate the matter by responding to individual groups. The ongoing parley is the best approach.”