Kaduna State Governor Nasir El Rufai on Wednesday ordered the immediate arrest of all signatories to a statement that gave a three-month ultimatum to Igbos to leave northern Nigeria. This was disclosed in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant-Media and Publicity, Samuel Aruwan. Mr. El Rufai also assured residents in the state of “their freedom to reside where they choose”, saying that the “constitutional right of every Nigerian to own property, move freely and to live in peace and harmony is sacrosanct”.
Recall that a coalition of Northern groups, including the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, had on Tuesday, given all Igbos resident in the 19 states of the North a three-month ultimatum to quit or be forced out after the expiration of the October 1, 2017, deadline. They also urged Northerners in the South-East to come back home.
But Governor El Rufai condemned the youths’ action in the statement. He boasted that his government has been consistent in taking action against hate speech and incitement.
The statement read partly, “The Kaduna State Government condemns in the strongest terms the press statement by some self-appointed “northern youths” that threatened the safety and property of our citizens of Igbo extraction. Government assures every resident of our state that their constitutional and human rights to live peacefully and own property wherever they choose is sacrosanct. Even people who may feel unhappy about irresponsible comments or actions that have taken place in other states must know that two wrongs cannot make a right.
“The Kaduna State Government believes in and will uphold the right of every Nigerian to live safely and develop his/her full potentials within its territory.
“Reckless disregard for the rights of other citizens drips through the press statement by these “northern youths” who have chosen to use the discourse around restructuring to promote their own agenda of hate, division and incitement. This sort of opportunists cannot be allowed to distort debate, or turn it into a pretext for a barely-disguised agenda of displacement and dispossession of some citizens.
“We will not tolerate such irresponsible statements and conduct in our state. The statement issued by the “northern youths” violates the laws of Kaduna State. Therefore, the Kaduna State Government has directed that its Ministry of Justice should prepare charges and prosecute the signatories and anyone complicit in arranging this egregious assault on the rights of fellow citizens.
“Preparatory to prosecution, the police have been directed to immediately arrest, interrogate the signatories to the statement and investigate all the circumstances and persons that may be implicated in the matter.
“The Kaduna State Government urges all residents to ignore the threats from the “northern youths”. We are in contact with the leadership of the Igbo community in Kaduna, and we delighted to say that this community, like all our other communities, believes in the strength of the constitutional order to protect all citizens.
“KDSG wishes to encourage all our people to celebrate the diversity with which the Almighty has blessed us, to continue to shun agents of division, and to stand firm in upholding a common humanity. Everyone has a right to live in peace and harmony.”
Meanwhile, the federal government has assured all Nigerians of safety and security, in a reaction to the order given to Igbos to leave the North.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who gave the assurance while sspeaking with State House correspondents after a meeting of the Federal Executive Council, , said the threat is not new.
“It is not the first time that different groups will issue such threats,” he said.
Mr. Mohammed stated that the threat is being handled by the relevant agencies of government.