20 June 2017
In an open letter addressed to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on Monday, the coalition of northern groups, including the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, asked that the process of allowing Igbos leave Nigeria as they’ve demanded be facilitated.
The coalition of northern group had given Igbo residents in the North three-month ultimatum to leave the region in response to their demands to form Biafra republic.
The letter read in part “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 co-exist with the Igbo given how deeply they are entrenched in our societies.”
They insisted that they were not waging war or calling anyone to violence, but noted that “we nevertheless are also not willing to continue tolerating the malicious campaign and threats of war that the Igbo have continued to wage against us.”
The youth leaders stated, “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.
However, in the Igbos reaction to the letter, they made it clear that their northern counterparts cannot force them out of Nigeria.
Speaking to Punch, the Deputy Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Mr. Chuks Ibegbu, said Ohanaeze insisted on the restructuring of the country, and not secession.
Stressing that the northern youths lacked the mandate to speak for the Igbo, Ibegbu noted that the Arewa groups were trying to provoke another war in the country.
Ibegbu stated, “In the first place, I want to thank the Acting President for the role he is playing in this situation. He is a peacemaker and he has shown himself to be conversant with the dynamics of leadership.
“The Acting President has told all the parties to allow peace to reign. Igbo are peaceful people; so, we will abide by what he said.
“We are conscious of what the Acting President told the Igbo leaders and the traditional rulers when they visited the Presidential Villa. Therefore, we will not be drawn into taking issue with these northern youths; they are people who have shown themselves to be lawbreakers and warmongers.
“The activities of these Arewa youths have shown that there is more than meets the eye to the ultimatum they gave the Igbo in the North. They simply want to drag the country into another war.”
Ibegbu stressed that agitation for separation was not peculiar to the Igbo, as claimed by the Arewa youths.
The Ohanaeze spokesman observed that the agitation in the South-East was largely a protest against marginalisation, rather than a wish for secession.
Ibegbu added, “That some individuals are pushing for self-determination in the South-East does not mean that the Igbo want to secede. The real situation is a protest against marginalisation.
“We should not forget that even now, as we speak, the Boko Haram sect is still canvassing Islamic rule in the North, using violent means – that is a form of agitation for secession.
“So why should the northern youths ignore the log in their eyes to bother about the speck in another person’s eyes; why the venom against the Igbo?”