Nigeria faults call for Igbo to leave northern region
08 Jun 2017 - 14:10
LAGOS, Nigeria: Nigeria’s government on Wednesday condemned calls by some northern groups for the ethnic Igbo to leave the region or face hostilities over their agitation for a separate homeland, or Biafra.
“Nigeria belongs to all of us. No person or group is more important or more entitled than the other in this space that we all call home," the Nigerian presidency tweeted Wednesday in apparent response to the threat for Igbo to leave the north.
The tweet was excerpted from a speech given on May 29 by acting President Yemi Osinbajo in which he condemned rising hate speech and belligerent conduct by some Nigerians.
“We have a responsibility to resist all who might seek to sow confusion and hatred for their own selfish interests,” he added.
The Kaduna state government has also ordered the arrest of leaders of the northern groups over the call, dismissing their action as provocative and contrary to public peace.
- Relocation threat
At a news briefing in Kaduna, some youth groups in northern Nigeria late Tuesday threatened to attack ethnic Igbos unless they relocate to the country’s southeast within three months.
The threat comes barely a week after the Igbo -- Nigeria’s third-largest ethnic group after the Hausa/Fulani and Yoruba -- held sit-ins at mostly Igbo-majority areas in commemoration of the 1967 civil war.
The 30-month civil war left hundreds of thousands of people dead and began with the Igdo’s exodus from the northern region when some members of the community were accused of leading a deadly military coup in 1966.
Igbo groups have often been accused of trying to secede from Nigeria, who in turn point to unfair treatment and marginalization by other ethnic groups, especially the northern elite. Organizers of the recent sit-ins also called for allowing Igbo to go on their own.
The youth groups that issued the threat late Tuesday included the Arewa Citizens Action for Change, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Arewa Youth Development Foundation, Arewa Students Forum, and the Northern Emancipation Network.
In the statement, called the Kaduna Declaration, the groups jointly said their call had become necessary due to the “widening secessionist tendency” of prominent Igbo groups with alleged connivance of elites from the region. They accused Igbo of “harassing” other ethnic groups, including allegedly threatening their business interests across the southeast.