The Oasis Reporters
August 05, 2017
Coming against the backdrop of resistance from minority and Christian groups in the north,
the Arewa Youths Consultative Forum (ACF) has declared that the quit notice it issued to Igbo people resident in the northern part of the country is still in force.
Although middle belt groups have vowed to resist the largely Muslim Arewa Youths, insisting on restructuring and demanding that Igbos are free in their areas.
The ACF, at a meeting in Kaduna on June 6, gave Igbos in the North up till October 1 to leave the region citing the clamour for secession by Pro Biafra groups especially the Nnamdi Kanu-led Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).Soon after the eviction order, Nasir el-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna, had asked security agencies to arrest those behind it but none of the members of the coalition was arrested while stakeholders across the country have been holding meetings with the group.
Speaking with reporters in Kano on Thursday, Shettima Yarima, Chairman of the forum, said while the order stands, the Igbo people willing to remain in the north were however, free to do so.
“We stand by our notice to Igbo but those who are interested in Nigeria can stay. But for those who are not interested, you can go,” he said.
“Our mission is for peace; the unity of Nigeria is being threatened by the current agitation from the Igbo and we want to make sure that those who are interested in Nigeria stay but those who are not interested should go.
“The purpose of this town hall meeting in Kano is to review the early stand taken and we are collecting views of people here from the north-west. We will also move to north-central and north-east on whether to maintain our position or reconsider it.
“We don’t have the right to force the people to go. So, we are using peaceful means because we don’t have police and army.”
In his address, Nastura Ashir, Chairman of the Coalition of Northern Groups, said the northern youths had notified the United Nations of their mission for a united Nigeria adding that evidence of the alleged atrocities of Kanu had also been sent to the UN. “The attitude of the IPOB leader is worrisome because of the future of this nation. It creates a serious disaffection to northerners.”
Political analysts in Sabon Gari, a Christian suburb in Kano, however viewed the Town hall meeting of the Arewa youths as a thawing of some sorts.
“If they are saying those in favour of a united Nigeria can stay on in the north as they are pursuing their quit order peacefully, that is as good as saying that the quit order is of no effect” , Orji Peter, a trader in Sabon Gari market told our correspondent.
But Nnaji Okonkwo, a seller of vehicle spare parts at Katsina Road toed a different line, “these Arewa boys are good at double speak. They can talk peace while preparing for war”.
He urged his fellow Igbos to be “vigilant and locate their nearest axis to places of safety, because you can’t really trust the northern youths with ethnic and religious riots”