The apex umbrella for the Igbo, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo has warned that Arewa Youths want to provoke another civil war in the country. The Deputy Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chuks Ibegbu gave the warning in Enugu on Monday as he reacted to the recent letter by a coalition of northern groups, including the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, to Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, urging him to facilitate the process that would allow Igbos to leave Nigeria.
Recall that the Arewa Youths had on June 6 given Igbo residents in the North three-month ultimatum to leave the region.
But Mr. Ibegbu told reporters that the North could not drive Ndigbo out of Nigeria, saying that what Igbos want is the restructuring of the country, and not secession.
He pointed out that the so-called northern youths lack the mandate to speak for Ndigbo.
He said, “In the first place, I want to thank the Acting President for the role he is playing in this situation. He is a peacemaker and he has shown himself to be conversant with the dynamics of leadership.
“The Acting President has told all the parties to allow peace to reign. Igbo are peaceful people; so, we will abide by what he said.
“We are conscious of what the Acting President told the Igbo leaders and the traditional rulers when they visited the Presidential Villa. Therefore, we will not be drawn into taking issue with these northern youths; they are people who have shown themselves to be lawbreakers and warmongers.
“The activities of these Arewa youths have shown that there is more than meets the eye to the ultimatum they gave the Igbo in the North. They simply want to drag the country into another war.”
Mr. Ibegbu explained that agitation for secession was not peculiar to Igbos, as claimed by the Arewa youths. Boko Haram sect is still canvassing Islamic rule in the North, using violent means; that is a form of agitation for secession, he argued.
According to him, the agitation in the South-East was largely a protest against marginalisation, rather than a wish for secession.
“That some individuals are pushing for self-determination in the South-East does not mean that the Igbo want to secede. The real situation is a protest against marginalisation.
“We should not forget that even now, as we speak, the Boko Haram sect is still canvassing Islamic rule in the North, using violent means – that is a form of agitation for secession.
“So why should the northern youths ignore the log in their eyes to bother about the speck in another person’s eyes; why the venom against the Igbo?” Ibegbu asked.
Meanwhile, Afenifere, its own reaction, condemned the letter to Mr. Osinbajo by the Northern Youths. The Yoruba socio-cultural group restated its call for the arrest of the leaders of the Northern Youths.
Group spokesperson, Yinka Odumakin again asked Osinbajo to tell the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to arrest leaders of the northern groups.
He said the letter signified danger to southerners living in the North.
Odumakin said, “This is a confirmation of what we have said so far. For almost 12 days after their inciting comments, none of them has been arrested by the police.
“That they are giving it back to the Acting President shows that they have an assignment they are carrying out for their sponsors. It also shows that the elders have failed to caution their youths.”