Seeks for referendum over calls for secession
Eighty-eight days after, the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) has suspended their three months quite notice issued to the Ndigbo resident in the Northern part of the country.
In a world press conference organised by the coalition in Abuja on Thursday, the spokesperson for the group, Abdulrazak Suleiman, who is also the chairman of Northern Emancipation Network, said that the group had to suspend the strike after consultation with all the stakeholders.
He ,however, insisted that the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, should be arrested while the Igbo senators who stood for his bail should be compelled to withdraw their commitment.
He said: “Mindful of the concerns generated by the clause in the Kaduna Declaration that advised the Biafran Igbo to relocate from Northern Nigeria and for northerners in the SouthEast to do likewise, and our commitment to the unity of our dear country, we immediately opened channels for dialogue and interaction with government agencies, national and international groups, institutions and figures”.
He admitted that the group 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, Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima, northern royal fathers and the Directorate of State Security (DSS).
He said that the group took the decision “as cultured people with a tradition of respect for national values, leaders and elders”, adding that, “we are today pleased to announce the immediate suspension of the relocation clause otherwise referred to as the quit notice from the Kaduna Declaration”.
He reaffirmed the commitment of the groups for one united, peaceful and prosperous Nigeria and restated their belief in the sincere support to President Muhammadu Buhari, who they believe, will take a holistic look at all the concerns raised.
Abdulrazak further said: “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 Biafran issue to the front burner of the nation’s discussion agenda”.
He stated that engagement with international bodies like the United Nations will continue just as he called for the appropriate sanction on Nnamdi Kanu, other IPOB leaders and their sponsors in addition to labeling them a terror outfit. The groups also drummed support for the Igbos on their self-governance demand.
Abdulrasak said, “Allow the Igbo and support them 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 11 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.”
Governor Shettima, who was present at the occasion, said that the Ndigbo are the development hub of the country and thanked the Arewa youths for suspending the quit notice. Speaking to the newsmen, Senator Kabiru Gaya, Chairman, House Committee on Works, expressed his desire for a united Nigeria and said that Nigeria is better united.
Those present at the occasion included Nollywood actors, Emeka Ike, Kenneth Okonkwo, Eze Ndigbo from Kano and representatives of National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS).
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has said withdrawing the quit notice order by the Northern youth coalition to Ndigbo is not a priority and should not be given credence. In reaction to the withdrawal of the notice, the APC said it is not something to clap at because it shouldn’t have happened.
Speaking to one of our correspondents in Abuja in a telephone conversation on Thursday, National publicity secretary of the party, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, said: “It is not something we should celebrate; there is no reason to clap for them because it is not something that should have happened.
“The constitution of our country says every Nigerian has the right to live and carry out his legitimate business in any part of the country as citizen. I feel it shouldn’t have happened at all, so it is not something we should give credit to”.
He buttressed that for some people to sit at one end and said some certain group of people should not reside in a certain area by quit notice is not a thing of priority now.
Earlier, the Northern Youth Coalition which on June 6 asked the Ndigbo living in northern Nigeria to leave before October, 2017 set up a 10-member joint committee with Igbo leaders in the region to facilitate peace between the two groups.
The committee was set up at a meeting in Kano held at the instance of the coalition and attended by the leaders of the group and representatives of Igbo groups from the 19 northern states.
Five persons from each side constituted the peace committee with a former Labor Party presidential aspirant, Isa Tijjani, who coordinated its activities.
According to both sides, at the end of their meeting, the committee was asked to chart a way for peaceful resolution of any dispute between the Northern youths and the Ndigbo and agreed that peace is maintained between Ndigbo and their hosts in the North, saying that “the issues that prompted the youth group to issue the quit notice to Ndigbo in the north would be ironed out by the committee”.
The leaders of the Northern youth coalition, Yerima Shettima, and Nastura Shariff, said the group was willing to call off the quit notice.