The Nnamdi Kanu-led Indigenous People of Biafra, (IPOB) seems not to be in agreement with the position of the Southeast governors that Igbo resident in the North should ignore the quit notice issued by some Arewa youth organisations.
This is contrary to the stance of the Southeast Governors Forum which had, late on Friday, dismissed speculations that it had concluded arrangement to ferry home millions of Igbo in the North on account of the quit threat.
It said it had no such plan for now and that the Igbo should remain where they are and continue with their normal life.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at a function in Ibadan yesterday pointed out that Nigeria is better off as an entity as opposed to the dismemberment being agitated in some quarters.
He likened the federation to a marriage that is bound to have its ups and downs but which must last for life.
Three northern governors – Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto),Simon Lalong (Plateau) and Aminu Masari (Katsina) – said the Igbo in their states have nothing to fear and should remain where ever they are.
The director of media and publicity of IPOB, Emma Powerful, said in a statement yesterday said it was grateful to the Arewa Elders Forum (AEF), Arewa Youths and Arewa Consultative Forum “for seeing sense in what IPOB has been saying about the need for a referendum to be conducted in Nigeria to decide the fate of the component ethnic nationalities criminally lumped together by the British in 1914,’’ and to “vocal Northerners for at least having the courtesy to issue advance warning this time.’’
It promised to “adhere to your warning to leave Northern Nigeria because a word is enough for the wise. Biafrans and other Southerners should start packing their properties to come down to the South,’’ and advised Northern youths and elders to “keep it on because all they have done is exercise their right to free speech which is not a crime under any law known to man.’’
It said it was not in support of calls for the arrest of such Arewa Youths and their Elders.
The group dismissed suggestion that economic investments of Southeasterners in the north constitutes an impediment to Biafra restoration project.
It branded such view as cheap blackmail “designed to trigger rancour among Biafra populations because the North have always assumed and wrongly too, that the Igbo will place economic well being over and above their life. This assumption is based on a false premise and one we are determined to prove same as events unfold in the coming weeks and months.
“We are not afraid of our enemies; neither will any threat or violence from any quarter deter us. We remain peaceful in our noble quest to restore Biafra but we must caution that we always retain the right as a people to defend ourselves should the need arise.
“Allow Biafrans time to relocate peacefully back to BIAFRALAND, that is all we ask.”
The South East Governors Forum (SEGF), on its part, denied that it had commenced moves to bring back home their kits and kin in the north by mobilisng vehicles and cash for the purported evacuation.
“The rumours should be disregarded, as they are nothing but tissues of lies,’’ the Chairman of SEGF and Ebonyi governor, David Umahi, said in a statement.
“No amount of provocation would lead us to such a precipitate and irresponsible action at this time.
“Those exploiting such vacuous tittle-tattle as a basis for divisive rhetoric in public spaces are simply playing juvenile politics and we urge them to cease and desist.’’
He appealed to Igbo resident in the North to go about their lawful daily engagements without fear of intimidation, hindrance or molestation and assured them of corporate existence of Nigeria.
“The Forum has repeatedly reiterated its commitment to and preference for the existence of a virile, united, prosperous and progressive Nigeria where justice, fairness, equity, mutual respect and equality of opportunity to all citizens regardless of creed, ethnicity or gender will reign supreme under the inflexible rule of law.
“We have had occasions recently to take this position publicly in response to the agitation, but peaceful actions of some Igbo youth.’’
The governors, he said, would continue to take a similar stance in response to any action that might threaten the cohesiveness of Nigeria or designed to cause its rupture.
He said that the lives and property of law-abiding Igbo citizens were as precious as the lives and property of all Nigerians, irrespective of the region of their abode within this Republic.
“These must be guaranteed and defended against all forms of threat and aggression, both domestic and external, by the security forces and agencies of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.’’
The governors are collaborating effectively with the security agencies to ensure that no harm of any description was done to any law-abiding Nigerian citizen resident in the South East, including those from the North.
H called on all serious minded patriots, religious leadership in the North; the leadership of other socio-cultural groups; Nigerian Governors Forum; and all the service branches to rise up with voices of peace and wisdom to counteract the mischievousness and exuberant excesses of the northern youth.
“The ugly lessons of history are too grim to be stoked with carelessness,’’ he warned and that as leaders, “we must exert the full measure of our powers and influence to forestall a repetition.’’
He expressed appreciation to all Nigerians, including the presidency; reputable socio-cultural group, including Afenifere, who have declaimed the threat by the northern youth, and “thus underscored the unity and oneness of this nation.”
The forum also appreciated Senate President Bukola Saraki; former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; “our brother Governors particularly Alhaji Kashim Shetimma (the Chairman of Northern Governors Forum).
The Forum also thanked Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (rtd), the Minister of Interior; Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna State; the leadership of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF); the security agencies and others.