The police, on Thursday, failed to carry out a directive by the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, to arrest some northern youths, who issued a three-month ultimatum for the Igbo resident in the area to quit the region.
The groups had, on Tuesday, issued a three-month ultimatum to people of Igbo extraction, resident in the 19 states in the North, to leave or be forced out before October 1, 2017.
A prepared text of a press conference addressed by the groups was signed by the leaders of the various groups.
Those who signed the groups’ statement are Nastura Sharif (Arewa Citizens Action for Change); Amb. ShettimaYerima (Arewa Youth Consultative Forum); Aminu Adam (Arewa Youth Development Foundation); Alfred Solomon (Arewa Students Forum); Abdul-Azeez Suleiman (Northern Emancipation Network) as well as Joshua Viashman (Northern Youth Vanguard).
“We are also telling our brothers (northerners) out there in the South-East to get prepared to come back home,” Yerima had said.
The National President of the Northern Emancipation Network, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, who read the text of the press conference, alleged that the Igbo had become a threat to the unity of the country.
The Force Headquarters spokesman, Jimoh Moshood, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said the police were still searching for the northern youths who issued the ultimatum.
On Wednesday, el-Rufai had ordered the immediate arrest and prosecution of the leaders, saying the call by the groups could destabilise the country.
But while the police said they had yet to make any arrest, the youth in a statement on Thursday dared the force by insisting on their ultimatum.
They, however, said they had no plan to resort to violence.
Explaining the efforts of the police to arrest the youth leaders, the police spokesman stated that police operatives were “looking for them.”
“We are looking for them. They are not sitting in the market waiting to be picked up,” he said.
When asked how long it would take to nab the youth leaders, Moshood said he was issuing a statement that would address the issues.
The Kaduna police command spokesman, Aliyu Usman, said there was no update on the matter.
“We have no statement to make, if there is any development, I will tell you. No arrest yet,” he said.
When asked if the police were reluctant to arrest the youths, Usman simply said he would speak when there was an update.
Also, the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, while responding to questions from journalists at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, on Thursday, said the police had yet to arrest the northern youth leaders.
Idris spoke during his monthly conference with assistant inspectors-general of police, commissioners of police and other senior officers.
The IGP stated, “We have no arrest yet. As Commissioners of Police and Assistant Inspectors-General of Police, we have the responsibility to stop this group of persons from carrying out their threats.
“I want us to be at alert to ensure that such persons or groups were stopped at all cost from carrying out their threats. No individual has the authority to stop anybody from looking for his daily bread.”
In a statement late on Thursday, the police called on Igbo in the North to disregard the ultimatum by the northern youths.
The statement by the Force spokesman, Moshood, was however silent on the expected arrest of the group members for making inciting statements.
The force said it was monitoring closely the activities of the various northern youth groups, warning them against acts that could precipitate tension and violence.
Youth leaders maintain threat, slam Kaduna, Borno govs
But the groups, which issued the quit threat on Tuesday, urged the Federal Government to begin the process of actualising the South-East’s clamour for Biafra.
The five groups, in a statement by their spokesman, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, insisted on their ultimatum to the Igbo to move out of the 19 northern states.
The groups said the statement on Thursday was meant to clarify their stand on the controversies that the ultimatum had generated.
The coalition also berated el-Rufai and Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, for not supporting their cause, saying the two governors took sides because of their “blind ambition for the vice-presidency.”
El-Rufai and Shttima had, on Wednesday, condemned the threat by the youth, noting that the northern governors had taken measures to guarantee the rights of all Nigerians living in the 19 states in the northern geopolitical zones.
Speaking for the youth leaders, Suleiman said, “We are disappointed by the treacherous positions assumed by governors Nasir el-Rufai and Kashim Shettima, who, in pursuit of their blind ambition for the vice-presidency, chose to side with the secessionist Igbo against the interest of peace-loving Nigerians.
“The governors are known to be waiting in the wings for Mr. President to die, so they can further their plots to seek the Presidency.
“We are irked by the hordes of lies issued by Shettima, ostensibly on behalf of the 19 northern governors, in which he referred to us as faceless. Shettima has disconnected from reality.”
The groups stated that they had never called on anybody to embark on violence as a means of conflict resolution.
They added, “We restate our determination and commitment to ensuring that the North will never partake in any contrived arrangement that would still have the Biafran Igbo as a component.
“We reiterate our call on Nigerian authorities and recognised international bodies such as ECOWAS, the AU (African Union) and the UN (United Nations) to hasten the initiation of the process for the final actualisation of the Biafran nation and, with it, the excision of the Igbo out of the present federation.
“We urge the Federal Government, as a matter of urgency, to initiate the process for a peaceful referendum to allow the Igbo to go. Let them go.”
All attempts to get a reaction from el-Rufai’s Senior Special Assistant on Media, Samuel Aruwan, proved abortive due to a bad telephone connection. He had yet to respond to a text message as of 9pm on Thursday.
The spokesman of Borno State Governor, Mallam Isa Gusau, said the governor would not take issue with the youth.
“If there is no nation, where do you realise your ambition. Governor Kashim Shettima and the rest of his colleagues are foremost interested in the existence and unity of Nigeria,” he stated.
Culled From Punch Newspaper