West & Central Africa

Muslim group withdraws quit notice but Christian south must hold a referendum

Muslim youth associations in northern Nigeria who called themselves the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) have conditionally withdrawn their threat to forcefully evict all Igbo tribe, who are predominantly Christian, from the northern region by 1st October, this year.

The announcement came in a press conference held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja on Thursday 25 August.

The group, capitulating under pressure by local and international groups, as well as the lack of support from many regions in the country, like the Middle Belt and Western Regions of the country, forced the group to retreat and withdraw its threat.

In a speech to the press, Abdulazeez Sulaiman, the spokeman of the coalition of the 14 Muslim youth groups, justifying its threat to the Igbo tribe, said they had withdrawn their quit notice admitting they had come “under intense persuasive pressure from genuinely concerned national, political, traditional, religious and cultural leaders… 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.”

The group also blamed: “The incessant threat, insult, open calls for violence and war on all other tribes and regions that has become the hallmark of IPOB’s Biafran agitation based on fake and exaggerated claims of marginalization… alienation of other countrymen (reference to Hausa Muslims) from gaining the same opportunity and access in trade and industry in South-Eastern communities while the Igbo remain at the forefront of enjoying these opportunities in all other communities in the country.”

Sulaiman said that the suspension was on conditions that, the Igbo tribe should “hold a referendum to decide their future

either as Nigerians or as Biafrans in view of the fact that the population of the Igbo that supports Biafra is far larger than
the few who appear to be against it. Failure to do that will only douse this tension temporarily while they regroup to prepare for the war, they have always craved and openly called for. We are opposed to war with any part of this country and we are opposed to any situation that will lead to war.”

Reacting to the retraction of the quit notice, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) rejected the withdrawal of the quit notice.

Comrade Emma Powerful, Media and Publicity Secretary of IPOB, said, “It is inconsequential to IPOB whether the quit notice was rescinded or not because it will in no way impact the pace and direction of our effort to restore Biafra.” He said. “Threats don’t have any effect on us, so our advice to the Arewa North is to please stick to the October 1 deadline or else they have no honour.” The group warned Igbos living in the north not to be deceived by this withdrawal of the notice and assume they or their property will be safe.

“We urge all southerners in the core North to return home before October 1 as history will most definitely repeat itself.” Emma said. Recounting history, the spokesman said, “Southerners were massacred in the pogroms of 1966 and 1967 after similar assurances were issued then that people should remain in the North.”

The Biafra group pointed out that the ‘quit notice’, which was an incitement to genocide, was endorsed by Northern political leaders. “The presence of a serving governor and senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria during the supposed press briefing confirms what we have always known that the incitement to genocide, which is what the ‘quit notice’ is all about, has the blessing of the Arewa political class,” Emma Powerful said.

 

Hassan John is West Africa Editor, Global Christian News and Priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos

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