The Federal Government on Wednesday, June 8 said security agencies were already on the alert over the threat statement by some people claiming to be northern youths.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Mohammed, said this while answering questions from State House correspondents after the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Mohammed assured Nigerians that security agencies were on top of the matter, adding that the statement was capable of destabilising the country.
He stated, “The issue of one or two groups issuing statements that are capable of destabilising the polity and being responded to by another group, I think, did not just start today or did not start yesterday.
“What I want to assure you is that security organisations are very, very much on top of this matter.”
When asked whether the issue of the ultimatum came up for discussion during the FEC meeting, the minister said it did not come up.
Northern govs, ACF, Afenifere, others condemn statement, demand arrest
Also, governors of the 19 northern states, on Wednesday, disowned the groups that issued ultimatum to Igbo to vacate the northern part of Nigeria within three months or be forced to leave.
Specifically, the governors called on security agencies to arrest the youth leaders and probe the motive behind the call.
The NSGF said the call by the youths was a suspicious act that fell in line with recent trend of arms catch, coup rumour, which might not be a mere coincidence.
The Borno State Governor and Chairman of the Northern States Governors’ Forum, Kashim Shettima, spoke on behalf of his colleagues in Maiduguri.
The governors said they had taken measures that would guarantee the rights of all Nigerians to live in the 19 states in the geo-political zones within the North.
The NSGF stated, “On behalf of the governors of the 19 northern states, we totally condemn such irresponsible pronouncements by those groups; we condemn, we disown and we are totally distancing ourselves from those faceless groups, who don’t have the mandate of the people of northern Nigeria to make such loud pronouncements.
“We wish to call on the security agencies to beam their lenses on these groups, and unearth the faces behind the mask. Some months back, there were cases of importation of arms, illegal importation of arms intercepted at the ports; then, we started hearing rumours of a coup d’etat.
“Now, a group, or a bunch of groups that do not have the mandate of the people came up with remarks capable of destabilising the North and the country as a whole.
“We are one nation tied to a common destiny. The governors of northern Nigeria are not in alignment with those pronouncements, and we will take whatever measures that are necessary to safeguard the lives and properties of Nigerians living in any part of the North.
‘‘I am in contact with most of my colleagues, and they are all talking to heads of security establishments in their respective domains because we cannot afford to take chances.”
In its own reaction, the umbrella body for the North, the Arewa Consultative Forum, and the Sarkin Fulani Nasarawa, Senator Walid Jibrin, condemned in strong terms the ultimatum which, according to the coalition would expire on October 1, 2017.
The National Publicity Secretary of the ACF, Alhaji Muhammadu Ibrahim, in a statement, distanced the Forum from the ultimatum.
He noted that democracy guaranteed the freedom of movement of all citizens to all parts of the country in pursuit of their legitimate business devoid of hindrances from any individual or groups.
The ACF said it appreciated the frustrations of the Indigenous People of Biafra, MASSOB and the Northern Youth Groups, but said it would not encourage any act that was not in conformity with the law by any group or individuals which would do no one any good.
The ACF then appealed for caution over unguarded utterances or statements that were capable of jeopardising the unity, peace and corporate existence of Nigeria.
Jibrin, who is also the Chairman, Board of Trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party, condemned the action of the youths, noting that all Nigerians, irrespective of their tribes, had the right to live in any part of the country.
Saying he was not speaking for the PDP, he added that the Igbos were broad-minded people, who had, over the years, helped to develop the economy of the North.
He described as unacceptable any move, asking the Igbo to leave the region.
Jibrin said, “Our past experiences of Biafran war will never allow any northerner or Igbo man to pray for the bad experiences of the Biafran war.
“I want to remind the group calling for Igbos to leave the North that there are equally many northerners living comfortably anywhere in the South-Eastern Nigeria and who have well established businesses in the Igboland.”
Also, Vice-President Atiku Abubakar said the ultimatum issued by the northern youth coalition to the Igbo and the response by a South-East group were not only provocative, reckless and thoughtless, but also a grave threat to national security and peaceful coexistence.
Atiku said this in a statement by his Media Office in Abuja on Wednesday.
The former Vice-President, who is also a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, said he was alarmed by the latest dangerous outburst, warning that it did not augur well for the North and the country at large.
“Atiku Abubakar calls for restraint on all sides by the youth groups to pave the way for meaningful dialogue on how to restructure our country for the good of all.
“Our country is too precious; our problems are too pressing to pander to divisive rhetoric,” he stated.