Governor Nasir El Rufai of Kaduna State has ordered the immediate arrest of all signatories to a statement issuing a three-month ultimatum to all Igbos to leave northern Nigeria.
The governor, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant- Media and Publicity, Samuel Aruwan, on Wednesday also assured residents in the state of “their freedom to reside where they choose”, adding that the “constitutional right of every Nigerian to own property, move freely and to live in peace and harmony is sacrosanct”.
A coalition of Northern groups, including the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, had on Tuesday, gave 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.
The group also asked Northerners in the South-East to get prepared to come back home.
The group’s grievance had been over the success of a recent sit-at-home order enforced by the Nnamdi Kanu-led Indigenous People of Biafra on May 30, 2017 which the five South-East states complied with.
Reacting the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the apex socio-political body of the Igbo, demanded ‘urgent action’ from the country’s security agencies.
The group also urged the Igbo in the North to be ‘vigilant’ while going about their activities.
The Kaduna State Government, however, condemned the youths’ action in the statement, insisting that it has been consistent in taking action to punish hate speech and incitement.
The statement reads in part, “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.”