Dateline: June 6th, 2017
The controversial Kaduna declaration, where a Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) ordered Igbos residing in the 19 Northern states to relocate to the Southeast before the 1st of October 2017 or be forcefully ejected may have come and gone, but ripples generated by the order still hang in the air.
According to the group, “the persistence for the actualisation of Biafra by unruly Igbos of South-Eastern Nigeria” necessitated the declaration, that “from the 1st October 2017, we shall commence the implementation of visible actions to prove to the whole world that we are no longer part of any federal union that should do with the Igbos” the Kaduna declaration reads.
The declaration was further followed up with correspondences to the then Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, and the United Nations asking that Ndigbo be assisted to actualise their Biafra struggle while Nnamdi Kanu should be treated as a terrorist.
Kanu’s abusive treatise a barrier
Arewa youths claimed that the declaration was consequent upon the “abusive and confrontational ideology prompted and campaigned for by IPOB led Nnamdi Kanu, brought some of the most scariest and
unacceptable treatise to the fore”, such that they were left with no option than to come together and form the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) to begin charting a new future for the population of Northern Nigeria.
The CNG accused the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB), of rolling out drums of war, calling for violence on other tribes, making fake and exaggerated claims of marginalisation, alienation of other countrymen from gaining access to trade and industry in the Southeast.
“While the Igbos are accommodated in every corner of the country to the point of owning landed and other immovable assets, they have on their part, foreclosed all reciprocal possibilities by denying non-Igbos access to property all over the South-East” CNG stated.
Another “sin” Ndigbo committed was that they refused to let the Fulani herdsmen overrun their region and allow cows feed fat on their farms.
“The claim that some of the Fulani herdsmen were involved in the commission of some crimes is a mere smoke screen as there is no law that says the offense of an individual shall be blamed on his entire race.
Besides Igbo men are severally found responsible for the commission of many vices, yet they are tolerated and accommodated in other Nigerian cities, towns and villages without blanket stigmatisation,” they stated.
Furthermore, the group alleged that the Igbos peddled hard drugs and infiltrated markets in the North with fake and hard drugs, subjecting Northern youths to the menace of hard drugs.
Their words: “They infiltrate Northern pharmaceutical markets with fake, substandard, adulterated and hard drugs by some Igbo traders which persists despite modest efforts by some state governments to stamp it.
“Drug abuse and supply of substandard drugs are used as political weapons to smear the north. The National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency has placed Kano state, and by implication the entire North, as the first in terms of drug abuse in the country consecutively for several years,
while a World Health Organisation research has pointed Kano as the location with the highest rate of fake anti-malarial drugs in Africa and, by extension, the world.
“While the North is the largest consumer of such products, its economic involvement is less than 5% of the total market value, with the rest hijacked and monopolised by people from the Southeast of the country,” CNG stated.
Enter Abuja counter-declaration
The group admitted that they “came under intense persuasive pressure from genuinely concerned national, political, traditional, religious and cultural leaders,
prominent among which were a section of the Northern Governors Forum under its Chairman, Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State, Northern traditional rulers and the Directorate of State Security” to reverse the order.
“As a consequence of these vigorous engagements and as cultured people with a tradition of respect for our national values, leaders and elders, we are today pleased to announce the immediate suspension of the relocation clause otherwise referred to as the quit notice from the Kaduna Declaration.
“We are also pleased to announce here that the Kaduna Declaration has achieved most of its major objectives, chief among which include forcing the hitherto deliberately neglected dangerous Biafra issue to the front burner of the nation’s discussion agenda” the group stated.
Some caveat on the quit notice Suspension
Although the CNG gave no conditions for the suspension of the order, some terms were attached which government was expected to address immediately.
Government, they said, should support and allow Ndigbo to hold a referendum to decide their future either as Nigerians or as Biafrans.
“One of the key reasons why Biafra should be allowed to hold a referendum is because the principle of self-determination has, since World War 2, become a part of the United Nations Charter,
which states in Article 1 (2) that, one of the purposes of the UN is “to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of people.”
The group equally called for disarmament of all Ndigbo in the North, alleging that they are stocking arms to attack the North as well as the arrest of Nnamdi Kanu and sanction on members of the National Assembly who endorsed his bail bond.
“We insist on immediate steps to be taken for the arrest of Nnamdi Kanu and for his appropriate prosecution while calling on the Nigerian Senate to demand that all Senators who stood surety for him in court rescind their bond or be suspended accordingly”.
Some responses on the Arewa youth allegations
Some people have debunked the allegations leveled against IPOB and Igbos by the Arew Youths as vague and false.
The Ohaneze Youth league, led by Chuks Dike, responding to the allegations that IPOB was going about their agitation in a violent manner, challenged the Arewa Youths to produce any evidence of violent attack on any person or public utilities by IPOB.
“The IPOB group has been conducting their activities in a peaceful manner. Nobody has been molested or killed. No public building, vehicle, police station, hospital or school has been burnt down.
There is no record of molestation of any Hausa or Yoruba man living in the Southeast or constraining them to join the IPOB group,” Dike stated.
The Chairman of Ndigbo in Nasarawa, Ekene Okwuoto said that the greatest fear of the Northerners was the success recorded by the seat-at-home order organised by Ndigbo for those who lost their lives during the civil war and explained that it was not part of the agitation.
“Ndigbo just recognised some Biafra veterans who lost their lives during the civil war. The federal government also does same during the Armed Forces Remembrance Day.
“Ndigbo just decided to seat at home that day, suspend all activities and dedicate that day to pray for our brothers who died fighting for what they believed in – and nobody was compelled to obey the order. So our brothers in the North should not be threatened by that show of solidarity,” Okwuoto said.
Nosa Akingbolu, in his reaction, said there is no evidence that Igbos are the sole marketers of hard drugs in the North, arguing that if they have facts, then they should approach law enforcement agencies for sanctions instead of indicting an entire race – including those involved in legitimate businesses.
“I stay in Kaduna and everybody knows that illicit drug is highly consumed in the North. The level of consumption has more to do with illiteracy and idleness as most of them do nothing.
“Most of those drugs are sold in shanties and even the police cannot go there to arrest the dealers because they have the backing of highly placed persons.
Often, foreigners are not involved in illicit selling of drugs because the consequence will be so grave for a foreigner to handle,” Akingbola stated.
To be concluded….
An analysis by Myke Uzendu, Abuja