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Fed Govt, ACF, El-Rufai to Igbo: ignore quit order

Jun 8, 2017

The Federal Government last night warned Nigerians against making statements capable of undermining the country’s peace and security.

The warning came after the ultimatum issued by some  youth groups in the North for the Igbo to leave by October or face a mass action.

They also informed northerners living in the East to return home.

The signatories to the declaration by the group are: Nastura Ashir Sharif of Arewa Citizens Action For Change; Shettima Yerima of Arewa Youth Consultative Forum; Aminu Adam of Arewa Youth Development Foundation; Alfred Solomon of Arewa Students Forum; Abdul-Azeez Suleiman of Northern Emancipation Network; Joshua Viashman of Northern Youth Vanguard; Mohammad A.  Mohammad of Northern Youth Stakeholders Forum; Mohammed Tasiu Pantami of North East Assembly and Nathaniel Ajegena Adigizi of North Central People’s Front.

The groups claimed that they were incensed by the activities of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) and the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) which have repeatedly called for a break-up of the country without being cautioned by the elders from the region.

The groups said they were further angered by the May 30 shut down of the South East by the separatist group to mark the 50th anniversary of the Biafra declaration.

But general condemnation yesterday greeted the Arewa groups’ action.

Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed in a statement said Nigerians were “free to reside in any part of  the country, as the government has the capacity to maintain law and order.

“He said there was no reason for any Nigerian to feel unsafe anywhere in the country, warning that the government would not tolerate any threat to the unity, peace and security of the country under any guise.

”There is zero tolerance for actions and speeches capable of inciting one part of the country against another, and the security agencies are fully on the ground to deal decisively with any individual or group that engages in incendiary activities.”

Mohammed advised Nigerians, irrespective of where they reside, to go about their daily activities without fear.

Earlier at a briefing after the meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), the minister said: “Nigeria is not new to one group or another issuing such threats.

“The issue of one or two groups issuing statements that is capable of destabilising the polity and then being responded to by another group, I think did not just start today or did not start yesterday.

“What I want to assure you is that security organizations are very very much on top of this matter.”

On whether the ultimatum given by the groups was discussed at the FEC, he said: “No.”

Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai ordered the arrest of the youth groups leaders who issued the ultimatum.

El-Rufai, who described the northern youths leaders and their action as irresponsible, said his government would not allow Kaduna State to be used to threaten the safety and property of its citizens of Igbo extraction.

The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) also called for caution against unguarded statements capable of breaching the peace and unity of Nigeria.

The governor, who spoke through his media aide Samuel Aruwan, said Kaduna State Government believed in and would uphold the right of every Nigerian to live safely and develop his/her full potentials within its territory.

He said: “The Kaduna State Government takes exception to the fact that the ‘northern youths’ did their irresponsible press conference in Kaduna. 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.

“KDSG has therefore ordered the arrest, investigation and prosecution of the signatories to the statement.

“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.

“Reckless disregard for the rights of other citizens drips through the press statement by these “northern youths” who have chosen to use the discourse around restructuring to promote their own agenda of hate, division and incitement. This sort of opportunists cannot be allowed to distort debate, or turn it into a pretext for a barely-disguised agenda of displacement and dispossession of some citizens.

“We will not tolerate such irresponsible statements and conduct in our state. The statement issued by the “northern youths” violates the laws of Kaduna State. Therefore, the Kaduna State Government has directed that its Ministry of Justice should prepare charges and prosecute the signatories and anyone complicit in arranging this egregious assault on the rights of fellow citizens.

“Preparatory to prosecution, the police have been directed to immediately arrest, interrogate the signatories to the statement and investigate all the circumstances and persons that may be implicated in the matter.

“The Kaduna State Government urges all residents to ignore the threats from the “northern youths”. We are in contact with the leadership of the Igbo community in Kaduna, and we delighted to say that this community, like all our other communities, believes in the strength of the constitutional order to protect all citizens.”

The ACF’s statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Muhammad Ibrahim Biu,  said ” the ACF wishes to draw the attention of all concerned, to note, that our democratic system of government which is anchored on law guarantees free movement of all Nigerians to any part of the country and to also pursue their legitimate livelihood devoid of any hindrance or molestation by any group or individuals.

“Furthermore, the system allows settlement of all grievances through our elected representatives in both the National and States Assemblies and the Law courts. Any act to the contrary, is therefore, a breach of law and order that are not helpful.

“ACF appreciates the frustrations of the Northern Youth Groups with the activities of MASSOB and IPOB members, but would not encourage any act that is not in conformity with the law by any  group or individuals which will do no one any good.

“ACF, therefore, appeals for caution over unguarded utterances or statements that are capable of jeopardising the unity, peace and corporate existence of Nigeria.”

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