West & Central Africa

Quit notice” reflects a “dark, sad part of the history of Nigeria”, says Archbishop

The threat of the “Kaduna Declaration” calling for the eviction of the Christian Igbo tribe from Northern Nigeria is serious with far-reaching implications, according to the Most Rev Benjamin Kwashi, Anglican Archbishop of Jos.

“Nobody, who is watching history, thinks this is a joke,” he told Global Christian News in an exclusive interview.

He argued: “1966 leaves a very dark and sad part of the history of Nigeria. The coups and counter coups stories was what led, largely, to southerners as a whole begin asked to move out of the north. Because it was perceived that southerners and Igbos in particular wanted to rule Nigeria and so they killed the northern leadership.

“After three years, the civil war ended, with deep wounds, very deep. But unknown to us, until now, the class of leaders of Nigeria, and the political elite, seemed to have had a plan to put the people of southeast, particularly the people of Igbo extractions in a particular box of mistrust,” claimed Archbishop Kwashi.

The southeastern tribes decided to believe the Buhari administration for a fair equitable federal government but this was not to be, “In the last few years, the Igbos have been complaining of a definite marginalization. And bear in mind that they abandoned the PDP (People’s Democratic Party) to go for APC (All People’s Congress) to support Buhari. Apparently, it looked like the APC party, led by Buhari has stabbed them in the back,” he said.

In the current agitation, Kwashi explained, “The Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) and MASSOB, are asking to move out of Nigeria. Their method is very simple, they are demonstrating, they are writing, they are making their cries known.” He said. And the response of the Nigerian government to the protests of marginalization is “rather, the Biafran people have been the people who have been killed even for demonstrating.”

The seriousness of the threat of eviction and its far-reaching implications is causing great concern to many Nigerians, especially the Christian community. “Those who have an experience of the Biafran civil war, with this kind of call, they are not going to take this call lying low or think this kind of talk is just a youth,” said Archbishop Kwashi.

“In fact, to buttress this point, the governor of Kaduna state, ordered the arrest of those people declaring it. It is three days since then. Nobody has been arrested, the inspector general gave an order for their arrest, they have not been arrested. So the Nigerian public are wondering whether this threat is not real.”

The Archbishop cited the example of people, including journalists,  who simply spoke out against Kaduna governor over the killing of Christians by the Islamsit Fulani cattle herdsmen who were promptly arrested. In contrast, the leaders of youth organisations who had threatened to evict the Igbo were not arrested.

He declared: “Nobody who is watching history thinks this is a joke. It will seem the Arewa guys, with their supporters, have something up their sleeves.”