Arewa youths suspend Oct. 1 quit notice, as UN experts denounce target on Igbo

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Coalition of Arewa youths at a press conference in Abuja, calling off the quit order on Ndigbo

As a consequence of these vigorous engagements and as cultured people with a tradition of respect for our national values, leaders and elders, we are today pleased to announce the immediate suspension of the relocation clause, otherwise referred to as the quit notice from the Kaduna Declaration.

Governor of Borno State and Chairman of Northern Governors’ Forum, Alhaji Kashim Shetima

THE Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, has suspended the October 1 ultimatum it gave the Igbo on June 6, 2017 to leave the North.

The spokesman of the group, Mr. Abdulaziz Suleiman, stated at a press briefing held at Transcorp Hilton hotel, Abuja on Thursday that the decision to rescind the Kaduna declaration, was in the interest of peace in Nigeria.

Rescinding the quit notice, the groups appealed to the Federal Government to allow Igbo to hold a referendum to determine their future.

Meanwhile, a group of UN experts have viewed with “grave concern” the ultimatum “telling Nigeria’s Igbo minority in the north of the country to flee their homes.”

A statement Friday, by the office of the Commissioner of the UN Human Rights, noted that “the experts deplored a hate song and audio message being circulated on the internet and on social media. The Hausa-language audio message urges northern Nigerians to destroy the property of Igbo people and kill anyone who refuses to leave by 1 October, the same date given in the ultimatum.”

The coalition of Arewa youths claimed their demand was in response to the secessionist stance of some pro-Biafran groups as well as the insults spewed on the north by the pro-secession groups.

They also called for the immediate closure of open drug markets across the North, which they claimed the Igbo were using to sell fake and adulterated drugs.

The coalition called for the immediate revocation of landed property, where such fake drugs are sold.

Explaining the decision to rescind the declaration, the youths stated: “Mindful of the concerns generated by the clause in the Kaduna Declaration that advised the Biafran Igbo to relocate from northern Nigeria and for northerners in the South East to do likewise, and our commitment to the unity of our dear country, we immediately opened channels for dialogue and interaction with government agencies, national and international groups, institutions and figures.

“Admittedly, we came under intense persuasive pressure from genuinely concerned national, political, traditional, religious and cultural leaders prominent among which were: a section of the Northern Governors’ Forum under its Chairman and Borno Governor Shettima, northern traditional rulers and the Directorate of State Security (DSS).

“We also had several fruitful interactions with various concerned individuals and groups. Most significant was our correspondence with the then acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and most recently our interface with the Presidency through the Special Assistant to the President on Political Matters.

“As a consequence of these vigorous engagements and as cultured people with a tradition of respect for our national values, leaders and elders, we are today pleased to announce the immediate suspension of the relocation clause, otherwise referred to as the quit notice from the Kaduna Declaration.

“This suspension we are proud to say, is also out of respect for and in reaffirmation of our allegiance to one, united, peaceful and prosperous Nigeria and in our unshaken confidence in the political will and sincere commitment of our dear President Muhammadu Buhari to take a holistic look at all the concerns we raised.’’

The press conference was attended by northern youth groups, including the Arewa Youths Council (AYC) that initially issued the quit notice on lgbo, resident in the northern region.

Also in attendance were the Governor of Borno State and Chairman of Northern Governors’ Forum, Alhaji Kashim Shetima, former Governor of Kano State, Alhaji Kabiru Gaya, former Minister, Alhaji Sani Daura and Alhaji Shetima Yerima of the Arewa Youths Council.

 

UN experts denounce ultimatum and death threats targeting Igbo minority

According to the UN experts: “We are gravely concerned about this proliferation of hate messages and incitement to violence against the Igbo and their property, especially considering the previous history of such violence.

“The Government must be vigilant, as hate speech and incitement can endanger social cohesion and threaten peace by deepening the existing tensions between Nigeria’s ethnic communities.”

It noted that the ultimatum by the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum had called for sustained and coordinated campaigns to remove the Igbo population from the northern region.

The human rights experts noted that some local and national figures, as well as some media representatives, had publicly denounced any form of hate speech and incitement, but said other officials still needed to follow suit.

We are gravely concerned about this proliferation of hate messages and incitement to violence against the Igbo and their property, especially considering the previous history of such violence

The experts, Mr. Mutuma Ruteere, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; Mr. Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on minority issues, and Ms. Anastasia Crickley, Chairperson of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, stated further: “We are deeply concerned that some prominent local leaders and elders have not condemned the ultimatum, hate speech and the perpetrators.

“We call on the Government, media and civil society representatives, and local and religious leaders, to reject and condemn hate speech and incitement to violence unequivocally and in the strongest possible terms.”

The UN experts said any incidents of hate speech and incitement to violence had to be investigated and the perpetrators prosecuted and punished.

“This includes the people behind the ultimatum and those responsible for the creation, publication and circulation of the hate song and audio message,” they added.

 

 

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