By Ejike Ejike, Abuja, SAM EGWU,
The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, has put Assistant Inspector Generals (AIGs) and commissioners of Police in the North on alert ahead of the eviction threat given to the Igbos in the North by a coalition of Arewa Youth groups.
Idris said there is no individual or group of persons that has the right to chase another bonafide citizen of the country out of any part of Nigeria.
The IGP who gave the directive at the Force headquarters yesterday observed that there was need to be on the look out for any miscreant who may try to cause any problem.
IGP Idris further noted that though there were no arrests made yet, the Police was working with other security agencies to ensure that the directive of the government of Kaduna state governor is carried out.
Speaking on the kidnapped students in Lagos, the Police boss said his men have arrested eight persons who are indirectly linked to the kidnapping incident but are careful so as not to risk the lives of the students in trying to rescue them.
He further noted that there are plans to permanently tackle the problem of kidnapping on the riverside areas of Lagos State, even as he said the Nigeria Police Force will soon deploy gun boats to the rivers.
The IGP further warned against abuse of spy plate numbers, sirens and tinted glass, stating that henceforth, there will be a taskforce charged with the responsibility of arresting offenders.
While calling for more support for the Police force, the IGP called on state governors to provide facilities for the establishment of mobile police units as was done in Enugu and Anambra recently, noting that such establishment will aid in tackling security issues.
Niger, Kogi Govs, Others Assure Igbos Of Safety
Meanwhile, Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello and his Niger State counterpart, Abubakar Sani Bello, yesterday assured Igbos in their respective states of their readiness to continue to protect their interests.
Speaking through his director general on media and publicity, Kingsley Fanwo in Lokoja, Yahaya Bello said he was in support of Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, that Northern governors should protect Igbos in their states, even as he noted that Nigeria will continue to be a united entity.
He said, “As a nation, our strength has always been embedded in our unity in diversity. Nigeria is home to all and we must continue to see ourselves as brothers and sisters in a united nation. Ethnic segregation is unacceptable to humanity and we must continue to wax stronger and unbroken as a nation. The God that created Nigeria is a God who believes in the strength of unity.
“The Kogi State government under the leadership of Alh. Yahaya Bello wishes to assure all Igbos that they are not only safe in the state, but that the administration will continue to consider Igbos resident in the state as partners in the New Direction Agenda of the government. Igbos should go about the legitimate businesses in the state as they continue to contribute to our economy as a state and a people.
“With the appointment of Igbos into strategic positions in Kogi State, we are making a strong case for social integration in Nigeria. Let me once more salute the courage and nationalism of the Kaduna State governor who has shown with his recent actions that Kaduna will remain the home of all nationalities”.
The Kogi governor also tasked Northern leaders to continue to defend the interests and safety of non-Northerners living in the North, insisting that unity is more of an action than word.
“As we strive to move out of the economic recession in Nigeria, bloodbaths would only compound the situation. We are the same before God and we should always play up the factors that unite us. We can only be strong when we are united”.
Governor Bello also called on Nigerians to intensify prayers for the full recovery of President Buhari, saying the health of the president is “quite reassuring and encouraging”.
He said the President is sacrificing a lot for the “greatness, prosperity and unity of Nigeria.
“President Buhari has sacrificed a lot to ensure we remain a respected nation in the comity of nations. Nigerians should pray for his full recovery as he is determined to tame corruption and drive the nation toward prosperity, responsibility and respectability”, he added.
On his part Niger State governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, dissociated the state from some Arewa youths who gave the Igbos in the North three-month ultimatum to leave the region, assuring that the government will protect the lives and properties of all Igbos residing in the state.
The commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr Jonathan Vatsa, who stated the governor’s position yesterday at a press briefing in Minna warned youths in the state against unguided utterances and acts capable of threatening the existing cordial relationship among all ethnic groups in the country.
Vatsa who spoke after an extended security meeting said Niger State is home to all Nigerians without any primordial attachments of tribes and religion, adding that the state aligns with the position of the Northern Governors Forum (NGF) and the Arewa Consultative (ACF).
The commissioner stated that the state government will take every proactive measures to protect all residents from any form of aggression from ant quarter.
He stated, “Government recognizes the rights of all Nigerians to live and do business anywhere in the country. It suffices that the threat by the Northern youth was needless and condemnable., and we dissociate Niger state from such threat”.
According to him, the state was open to all to do business, which was why the state would not discriminate against non indigenes and have been appointing them into positions of authorities.
As proactive measures, he stated that security agencies in the state have been strengthened to check any act that could breach public peace and therefore urges Igbos to go about their normal business
Also, the South-east Governors Forum yesterday urged Igbos residing in the North to remain where they are and go about their normal activities without fear of being attacked.
The governors promised them of their security and safety despite the three-month ultimatum given to them to leave the region.
Chairman of the forum and governor of Ebonyi State, Chief David Umahi, who gave the assurance yesterday at a press briefing in Abakaliki commended the federal government and the Kaduna State government for condemning the call and the assurance of maximum security.
The reaction was coming on the heels of the three-month ultimatum issued by the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (ACYF), a coalition of youth groups in Northern Nigeria, to all Igbos in the 19 Northern states to vacate the region.
Governor Umahi who described the ultimatum as provocative and mischievous called on Northern leaders to take actions that will counteract the intended plot of the youths in other 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 repletion. 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 further reiterated the commitment of the South-east governors 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 media reports that the governors held a meeting yesterday night and resolved to send buses to evacuate Igbos in the north.
“The rumours being peddled on conventional and social media platforms
that we, the governors of the south east, have met and agreed to mobilize vehicles and cash for repatriation of Ndigbo resident in northern Nigeia 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 decisive rhetoric in public spaces are simply playing juvenile politics and we urge them to cease and desist”.
We Have N44trn Investment In The North- South Easterners
Meanwhile, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council, the youth wing of Ohanaeze Ndigbo has said that Igbos cannot leave the North after spending over N44trn to invest in the region
“Igbo cannot leave the North after spending over N44trn to develop the region”, the Ohanaeze youth wing declared.
UN Calls For Tolerance Among Ethnic Groups In Nigeria
Meanwhile, the United Nations has called on different ethnic tribes and groups in Nigeria to be more tolerant to ensure unity and peace in the country.
The UN resident coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, said this in a statement issued by Oluseyi Soremekun, the national information officer, UN Information Centre (UNIC).
Kallon noted with concern media reports of an ultimatum issued by northern youth groups calling for all Igbo people to leave Northern Nigeria by October 1.
He noted that the ultimatum followed a sit-down-strike observed in the five states in the South-east of Nigeria on May 30, purportedly meant to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Biafra.
He said, “We have to work together to resolve peacefully any concern that different groups in the country may have. I am heartened by reactions of leaders from all over the country condemning this ultimatum. UN calls for tolerance and a spirit of togetherness in transparency to address the concerns of all the citizens in a peaceful manner”.
Kallon said this should be done in such a way that no one was left behind in the quest for sustainable development.
The coordinator, especially urged cultural and religious leaders to play their part in guiding the youth to settle differences peacefully.
Kallon also stressed the need to re-invigorate the National Peace Committee, as it could play a role in addressing the current concerns that impinge on the peace of the country, recalling that the committee worked tirelessly during the election period in 2015.
He continued: “Nigeria is a great country with immense potential to build the welfare of its population and lead Africa in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. This can only be achieved in an atmosphere of the rule of law and peace where all citizens live happily irrespective of their ethnic or religious backgrounds.
“I commend the Federal and State Governments, youth and civil society leaders, security agencies, cultural and religious leaders for their efforts to promote peace in the country. The UN is ready to continue supporting Nigeria to build an enduring democracy in peace, prosperity and respect for diversity”.