Biafra: As the countdown to 90 days ultimatum for Igbos to leave the north begins

Biafra: As the countdown to 90 days ultimatum for Igbos to leave the north begins

- Igbos of the eastern extraction have less than 90 days according to the ultimatum given by northern youth groups to vacate the north for good

- Although the Kaduna declaration has been condemned by all Nigerians from all sectors of society, the northern youths have remained resolute on eviction of Igbos from the north

- However, there are grave implications should the northern youths eventually have their way

In the past few days, specifically from Tuesday June 6, the Nigeria nation has been experiencing tension of the highest magnitude. The tension followed the declaration of the Northern youth coalition which called for the eviction of Nigerian Igbos from the north.

The statement made by the coalition has been the major cause of this high tension enveloping the nation. Though the agitation for the actualization of Biafra by the eastern groups has been given the nation headache, the northern youths’ declaration fueled the tension and added more fire to the already tensed system. The declaration heated the polity beyond measure, causing massive and wide reaction from vast majority of Nigerians.

The reactions cut across all the ethnic groups, calling for the retraction of the declaration and arrest of the youths who made the infamous statement. They insisted that irrespective of the pressure from the Biafra protagonists, Nigeria remains an indissoluble nation. Some others called for the arrest of the youths and get them prosecuted for heating up the fragile political system.

Biafra: As the countdown to 90 days ultimatum for Igbos to leave the north begins
Biafra: As the countdown to 90 days ultimatum for Igbos to leave the north begins

While many see the declaration as an indirect call for warfare between the groups, Nigerians who witnessed the Nigerian civil war that lasted from 1967 to 1970 barely six years after independence, are not in a hurry to see a repeat of that traumatic experience. This, it is believed, may have led to the massive reactions against the action of the dissident northern youths.

READ ALSO: Igbos begin fleeing from north following quit notice

The statement which was read by president of Northern Emancipation Network, Abdul-azzez Suleiman stated that sequel to the shutting down of major towns in the South east on May 30, 2017 as part of the campaign by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) for the actualisation of Biafra republic, the Northerners could no longer tolerate being a part of a political marriage which included the Igbos.

Following the declaration, they gave the Igbos up till October 1, 2017, the day Nigeria will celebrate independence from British rule, to vacate the entire northern region and return to their ethnic heartland in order to achieve the secessionist agitation for the republic they have been clamouring for. In the same vein, the groups had urged all Northerners living in the Southeast to return to the North by the same deadline.

The statement was co-signed by heads of 16 northern youth groups in Kaduna, the capital city of Kaduna state. The signatories include youths from Arewa Citizens Action for Change, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Arewa Youth Development Foundation, Arewa Students Forum and Northern Emancipation Network after a joint meeting in Kaduna, leading to the statement becoming tagged the ‘Kaduna declaration.’

The statement helped to canvass for the restructuring of the country as they said that the confrontational conducts of the ‘Biafrans was trampling on the rights of other Nigerians, especially the northerners. They described the Igbos with many unsavory words including ‘unruly,’ ‘ungrateful,’ ‘confrontational’ ‘uncultured’ ‘reckless,’ ‘insatiable’ and even termed their attitude as lacking in remorse for the ‘carnage they wrought on the nation in the 1960s as they are still actively agitating for the very thing that led to the civil war in Nigeria.

The declaration read in part: “It is on record that since the inception of the current democratic dispensation, the Igbos have shown and maintained open contempt and resentment for the collective decision expressed by majority of Nigerians at various stages via generally acceptable democratic processes.

Biafra: As the countdown to 90 days ultimatum for Igbos to leave the north begins
Biafra: As the countdown to 90 days ultimatum for Igbos to leave the north begins

“While these provocative acts of aggression persist and grow in dimension with each new move, leaders of the North whose people are at the receiving end of the threats, appear helplessly unperturbed. Without pursuing a resolute action-plan, these northern leaders have adopted and have been dragging their people into a pitifully pacifist position in order to sustain an elusive national cohesion that has long been ridiculed by the Igbos.

From today, June 6, 2017, when this proclamation is signed, the North, a critical player in the Nigerian project, hereby declares that it will no longer be disposed to co-existing with the Igbo and shall take definite steps to end the partnership by pulling out of the current federal arrangement.”

The Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), speaking through the leader Uchenna Madu, received the quit notice with gladness and urged the Igbos to return home immediately to avoid being killed violently alongside their children and wives.

READ ALSO: Jonathan sends powerful message to Nigerians after north issues quit notice to Igbos

However, the very touchy issue which most appear to many as very delicate is that the Igbos known to be extremely industrious have landed properties in every state of the federation, hence their take on the landed properties belonging to Igbos in the north was unacceptable and has consequently attracted its own reactions.

That part of the statement reads: “As a first step, since the Igbos have clearly abused the unreciprocated hospitality that gave them unrestricted access to, and ownership of landed properties all over the North, our first major move shall be to reclaim, assume and assert sole ownership and control of these landed resources currently owned, rented or in any way enjoyed by the ingrate Igbos in any part of Northern Nigeria.

“Consequently, officials of the signatory groups to this declaration are already mandated to commence immediate inventory of all properties, spaces or activity in the north currently occupied by the Igbos for forfeiture at the expiration of the ultimatum contained in this declaration.”

The founder of Igbo Youth Movement, IYM, Evang. Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko stated in his reaction that such a statement was an indication of the fact the Northerners had always had their eyes on the landed properties belonging to the Igbos, else they should have asked for a referendum to make the secession and restructuring peaceful, and in order to be taken serious by the world leaders and international bodies.

He stated that Igbo property in the North have always been used to blackmailing them into remaining in a union where the mindless oppression continues. He further described the statement as a ‘blind and unintelligent attempt to sustain the clearly unworkable status quo’ by blackmailing them.

Biafra: As the countdown to 90 days ultimatum for Igbos to leave the north begins
The 9 Northern governors when they took a resolution to condemn the Kaduna declaration

In its reactionary statement, the Igbo youths under the aegis of Ohanaeze Youth Council (OYC), urged the Igbo to remain “wherever they are and defend themselves if pushed to the wall.” Although this is a contradiction to the stand of the federal government that the Igbos should not panic as their lives and properties would be well protected.

Investigations by revealed that the statement of peace from the federal government has never worked. The government has always failed in its responsibility to the average Nigerian in matter of protecting lives and property. This was especially pronounced in the days when Boko Haram ruled the north, especially Abuja, the federal seat of power.

At the blast of one explosion, the federal government would say “we will make sure nothing like that happens again, lives of Nigerians will be protected” but it has always failed. Within a few days bombs would go off ripping buildings and killing as many people on its part.

READ ALSO: Kaduna government orders arrest of Northern Youths for issuing quit notice to Igbos

The 19 Northern governors on their own part, not only distanced themselves from the declaration but came out clearly to state that those bodies did not speak for the entire north. ‎Borno Governor and chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum, Kashim Shettima, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues in Maiduguri, stated unequivocally that the governors were in touch with heads of security agencies and had taken measures that will guarantee the rights of all Nigerians to live in the 19 states in the three geo-political zones, within the north, and encouraged the Igbos to go about their legitimate businesses as usual.

Shettima 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.

He, however, called for investigations and probing as the act could really smoke indicating something bigger coming as there has been recent illegal importation of arms intercepted at the ports and rumours of a coup d’etat.

Similarly, Kaduna state government condemned the speech which it described as hateful and inciting. Governor Nasir El-Rufai described the signatories to the statement as ‘self-appointed northern youths seeking to target and violate the rights of our citizens of Igbo extraction’ and went as far as calling for their arrest, investigation and prosecution as their actions went against the laws of Kaduna state.

Biafra: As the countdown to 90 days ultimatum for Igbos to leave the north begins
Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna state

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,” Mr. Aruwan, press secretary to the Kaduna state governor said, adding that the state government “has therefore ordered the arrest of the signatories to the statement.”

But in a follow up statement issued, the coalition of Northern youth groups pushed back against critics of their position, accusing Governors El-Rufai and Kashim Shettima of Borno state of attacking their position based on their political ambitions for the vice presidency, and stating that they were sorely disappointed in them.

The coalition claimed that they never advocated the use of violence to achieve their goals, and described the critics as being “mischievous.”

The latest statement by the Northern youth group contended that their coalition “primarily called on the authorities and the international community to step in to formalize the actualization of the dream of a people who say in words and action, and the whole nation appears to concur, that they are Biafrans not Nigerians.”

They added: “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 restate 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.

Prior to this, the federal government speaking through Minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, assured Nigerians that security agencies are on top of the matter, as this is not the first time such a thing would happen. “Alhaji Lai Mohammed, assured Nigerians that security agencies are on top of the matter, as this is not the first time such a thing would happen. “What I want to assure you is that security organisations are very very much on top of this matter,” Lai Mohammed was quoted as saying.

But Nigerians are yet to accept the statement of El-Rufai, the Kaduna state governor. They described El-Rufai as being insincere with his statements, noting that the governor has never being well disposed to the Christians in the North, especially Kaduna state. They argue that since the pronouncement of arrest, none of the dissident northern youths has been arrested nor prosecuted.

READ ALSO: Let us leave Nigeria now - Igbos thank northern youths for quit notice

Even the police are alleged not to be sincere with their comments over the arrest and prosecution of the signatories to the inflammatory statement that is capable of setting the nation on fire. Nigerians argue that the police are playing the ostrich game with the prosecution of the youths.

The police force headquarters spokesman, Jimoh Moshood, had said that the police were looking for the youths who signed the statement. He said: “They are not sitting in the market waiting to be picked up.”

According to Sahara Reporters, when asked how long it would take to nab the youth leaders, Moshood said he was issuing a statement that would address the issues. The Kaduna police command spokesman, Aliyu Usman, said there was no update on the matter.

We have no statement to make, if there is any development, I will tell you. No arrest yet,” he said. When asked if the police were reluctant to arrest the youths, Usman simply said he would speak when there was an update.

Also, the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, while responding to questions from journalists at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, on Thursday, said the police had yet to arrest the northern youths.

Biafra: As the countdown to 90 days ultimatum for Igbos to leave the north begins
Inspector General of police, Ibrahim Idris

Reacting to the controversial situation on ground, former aide to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, said the development would go a long way in defining the kind of politics that hold sway in Nigeria at the moment.

Reno Omokri took to his Facebook account saying: "The press conference where Igbos were asked to quit the north was held at Arewa House. To those who do not know what Arewa House is, go and research it. It is almost impossible to hold a press conference at Arewa House without the knowledge of the Kaduna state government.

"Is someone flying a kite? That being said, in 2015, Nnamdi Kanu was jailed by the Muhammadu Buhari administration for two years and charged with treason because he called for an independent state of Biafra. In 2005, Asari Dokubo was jailed for two years by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration and charged with treason because he called for self-determination of the Niger-Delta.

"In 1993 and 1996 the Abacha administration jailed Gani Fawehinmi for months and charged him with treasonable offenses for holding a political rally against the government. Nigerians are waiting to see if the same treatment will be meted out to Alhaji Yerima Shettima, President of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, who has also committed an act of treason by declaring war on Nigerian citizens of Southeast origin when he and his group ordered them to leave Northern Nigeria.

"If he is treated with kid gloves then we will know that President Buhari meant what he said about treating 97 percentage differently from five.” However, findings show that the Igbos in the North have started leaving in droves from Kaduna state.

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As it is now, both Nigerians resident in the north and outside the north are feeling uneasy over the declaration, added to the lackadaisical attitude of the Nigerian police and the lack of trust for the Kaduna state governor, Nasir El-Rufai.

The tone of updates emanating from the north is adding tension to the already tensed atmosphere. People are already calling for brotherly support from their brothers and some are even going as far as asking the Biafrans not to betray each other but to stand for one another even if any eventuality happens.

One of such post reads: “In Nigeria, we know what it means when the security agencies say they are on top of the situation. They actually mean that they have no idea how to go about it.”

For many, the only thing that can be done now is to watch and countdown to the eviction date, at which point Nigeria is supposed to be celebrating 57 years of independence. For the other group, it is a clarion call for the Igbos to return to their homeland to avoid an incident that one may term ‘had I know.’

Meanwhile, watch this video and examine the possibility of achieving the Biafra republic after 50 years


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