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Friday, June 9, 2017

'Igbos are safe in the North' - South-East governors

The dust raised by the ultimatum issued by some groups for the Igbo to leave the North was yet to settle yesterday.
But Southeast governors told their citizens not to panic, stressing that they are free to live anywhere in Nigeria.

Besides, the police assured the Igbo living in the North of their safety.

Police chief Ibrahim Idris ordered top officers to keep the peace nationwide after a meeting of the top brass in Abuja.

The House of Representatives also urged the police and other security agencies to ensure that everybody is safe.

The youths, who issued an October deadline for the Igbo to quit the North, claimed that their action was due to the unchecked agitation for secession by Southeast groups, led by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

But the Federal Government, North’s governors, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and others have condemned the quit order as “provocative” and “uncalled for”. The Inspector-General of Police (IGP) vowed that members of such groups would be stopped.

Chairman of the Southeast Governors Forum and Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi called on northern leaders to take actions would counter the intended plot of the youths to ensure that the grim history of the past is not repeated.

He said: “We must call on all serious-minded patriots, particularly the religious leadership in Northern Nigeria; the leadership of other socio-cultural groups in Northern Nigeria; the 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. As leaders, we must exert the full measure of our powers and influence to forestall a repetition.

“We call on all Igbo sons and daughters resident in Nothern Nigeria to go about their lawful daily activities without fear of intimidation, hindrance or molestation.”

Umahi reiterated the governors’ commitment to “the existence of a virile, united prosperous and progressive Federal Republic of 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”.

The governor also denied insinuations that a meeting resolved to send buses to evacuate Igbo in the North.

“The rumours being peddled on conventional and social media platforms that we, the governors of the Southeast have met and agreed to mobilise vehicles and cash for repatriation of Ndigbo resident in Northern Nigeria must be disregarded, as they are nothing but tissues of lies.

”No amount of provocation would lead us to such 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.”

In Abuja, the IGP ordered Deputy Inspectors General of Police (DIGs), Assistant Inspectors General of Police, Commissioners and other senior officers to ensure peace nationwide.

He told them that “the issue that is becoming a concern is the issue of threat by some tribal and regional groups”.

“Yesterday, a group issued threat to some groups in this country and, like I observed, no individual has authority to stop any Nigerian from pursuing his daily bread in any part of this country because these are rights that are guaranteed by the Constitution.

“We are not going to allow the groups to carry out the threat,” Idris said, adding:

”I want us all to be alert and stop anybody, group or individual that attempts to prevent any Nigerian from carrying out his daily activities; we have responsibility to ensure that those groups are stopped by all means. Being a Nigerian, no group has the right to prevent anybody from his rights either movement, association or whatever.

He added: “The Nigeria Police Force has the right to stop such groups. The group called themselves northern youth group; nobody has that authority to stop any Nigerian from participating or residing in any part of this country; it is a constitutional right and I believe it is illegal to prevent people.

“When the IPOB came out last month, we adopted a procedure and we are adopting the same procedure with this new group. We are trying to ensure that no individual or group causes confusion in this country because the threats constitute a subversive activity against the security of the state and we cannot allow that to happen.

“We are going to conduct investigation into it and the state government has issued a directive of arrest to security agencies and you are aware that the State Security Council includes the Commissioner of Police; so definitely under that cover, CPs are to ensure that the directive given by the state governor is carried out as far as there is an impediment in the law of this country.

“It is a directive and an authority on them to ensure that where these groups are seen, we have the responsibility to arrest them. The groups mentioned some dates, so we have to be very conscious of the date and ensure that no individual or group goes round this country to actualise the threats made. We will not allow them to carry out their threat.”

On whether any arrest has been made, Idris said: “So far, I am not aware of any arrest that has been made but I want us to be mindful of the fact that to conduct an arrest is very easy, but there are so many factors that have to be taken into consideration.

“There is no arrest yet but we as Force men have to make sure that no individual or group is seen physically either on our street or inside towns or villages trying to disturb any Nigerian from carrying out his activities on those dates mentioned”.

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