Arewa groups ask Igbos to leave Northern Nigeria, threaten violence

Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF)

The Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, ACYF, a coalition of socio-political groups in northern Nigeria, on Tuesday issued a three months ultimatum for all Igbos in the 19 northern states to vacate the region.

If the Igbos fail to leave by the October 1, 2017, the group said, it would use force to evict the Igbos.

The group also threatened to take over all the landed properties of the Igbos after they had left the region.

Though the group did not specifically say how it intends to carry out its threat, it said not even the Arewa Consultative Forum or the Northern Elders Forum would prevent it from carrying out its threat.

At a press conference in Kaduna, the AYCF officials led by the group’s National President, Yerima Shettima, claimed that a successful sit-at-home protest organised by Igbo groups, was a threat to the country’s national security.

The sit-at-home was organised by two pro-Biafra groups, IPOB and MASSOB, in remembrance of the Biafra secessionist war that led to the death of about three million people.

But the AYCF said they would not tolerate such action hence the issuance of the three months ultimatum for the Igbos to leave.

“We are also telling our brothers (northerners) out there in the South-East to get prepared to come back home,” the National President of AYCF, Yerima Shettima, said at a press conference in Kaduna.

Reading the press conference text on behalf of the group, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, who is the National President of the Northern Emancipation Network, one of the groups that formed AYCF, said all northerners residing in the eastern Nigeria should within the period of the ultimatum return to their states.

“With the effective date of this declaration, which is today, Tuesday, June 6, 2017, all Igbo currently residing in any part of northern Nigeria are, hereby, served notice to relocate within three months and all northerners residing in the South-East are advised likewise”, he said.

“All northern civil societies and pressure groups are, by this declaration, mandated to mobilize for sustained, coordinated campaigns at their respective state Government Houses, state Houses of Assembly, local government council secretariats and traditional palaces.

“Our first major move shall be to reclaim, assume and assert sole ownership and control of these landed resources currently owned, rented or in any way enjoyed by the Igbos in any part of northern Nigeria.”

The group warned that they would mobilize mass support from the north against the Igbos should they fail to hearken to the relocation order.

Speaking further, while fielding questions from journalists, the AYCF President said the federal government should not take their agitation for the eviction of Igbos from the north as a joke.

“The federal government should our threat with all seriousness”, he said.

Asked if they had consulted the ACF and the NEF, Mr. Shettima said his group did not need the authorization of the northern elders to do what they felt was necessary.

“Never again shall we allow any group, (northern) elders to take us back”, he said. The ACF was part of the decadence of the region”.

When contacted by journalists for comments on the relocation order issued by the AYCF, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, an umbrella socio-political organisation of Igbos, called for an immediate arrest of Mr. Shettima for issuing an assault order against the Igbos.

The Deputy Publicity Secretary of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chuks Ibegbu, who spoke from Enugu said “the DSS, the police and other security agencies should take note of the statement by the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum and the other Northern groups for issuing the threat against the Igbo.

“It should not be seen as an empty threat; urgent action is needed to foil the plan to attack the Igbos in the North. It happened in the past and we don’t want it to happen again.

“In fact, Yerima Shettima should be arrested by the DSS immediately. We are watching to see what the DSS would do in this situation.

“Shettima’s statement is treasonable; he is inciting one section of the country against another section and we know from experience that this sort of thing could lead to a civil war. His utterances could destroy this country.”

The text of the ACYF press conference was jointly signed by leaders of the coalition, which comprised Nastura Ashir Sharif (Arewa Citizens Action for Change); Alhaji Shettima Yerima (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, who signed on behalf of the Northern Youth Vanguard.

The police are yet to react to the threat by the Northern groups. The Kaduna police spokesperson, Aliyu Usman, was yet to respond to PREMIUM TIMES enquiry as at the time of this report.

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