•Kalu, Falana, Ezeonwuka react
From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja and Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure and David Onwuchekwa, Nnewi
Department of State Services (DSS) declared, yesterday, that the October 1 quit notice from a coalition of Arewa youths to Igbo, was illegal and unconstitutional.
It warned persons causing disaffection and tension to immediately desist from such acts.
The security agency, also, said it would deal with those found culpable while noting that it had launched an investigation to unmask sponsors of the recent wave of hate campaigns and quit notice orders.
DSS, in a statement by its spokesman, Tony Opuiyo, said the agency would stop at nothing to maintain peace and order in the country.
“Only recently, the Arewa Youths in a press statement called for the relocation of the Igbos from the North. Unfortunately, this development has been followed by a release from an unknown source styled, Niger Delta Watchdogs, threatening all northerners to quit Niger Delta region,” the statement read.
“Meanwhile, another group went to the extent of harvesting from the internet, a horrific accident scene, for the purpose of making it look like a site of massacre of Igbo ethnic group by northern youths. However, the Service has been able to establish that the purported murder scene being depicted as a field of massacre was a high casualty accident scene, which occurred along Owo-Akure road, Ondo State, on 3rd March, 2016.
Those involved in these misleading and despicable acts have since been warned to desist from anything capable of causing disaffection and stoking nationwide tensions, it said.
The statement noted that the relocation order was not only illegal, but was against the spirit of the constitution, which provided for freedom of movement and association among others.
“Well-meaning and law abiding citizens and residents are enjoined to disregard persuasion by these tribal jingoists to make our beloved country a theatre of the absurd and blood-letting. It is time for us, Nigerians, to show our humanness and patriotism, which have been our defining strength as one united indivisible nation.
“The service has already commenced a detailed investigation to get the perpetrators of these hate campaigns as well as their sponsors. At the appropriate time all those involved in these condemnable acts will be unmasked and decisively dealt with in line with the laws of the land.”
Also reacting, former governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu faulted the three-month ultimatum.
Kalu, who spoke to journalists in Abuja, said what the country needed was unity, whereby citizens irrespective of tribe, would be able to live in any part of the country they like.
Kalu who lauded the northern governors for quickly disowning the youths and reiterating their support for the unity of the country, attributed the current agitation in the South-east and other parts of the country to perceived injustice.
While calling on the government to address the feeling of injustice, he said there was need for the country to return to regionalism.
“If they have social justice, rule of law, if you have every law of the country respected, you use one law to try everybody, you use one law to talk to everybody, there will be no problem and every part of the nation will agree that they are Nigerians,” he said.
He lauded the present administration for dealing decisively with Boko Haram insurgents.
However, he said there was need for the government to do more to revamp the economy, adding that once that was done, complaints in the country would be a thing of the past.
“When people say they are hungry, we also know that they (governments) have done well. But I want this government to see that our problem is not political, our problem- whether Boko Haram, Biafra, militants, OPC- is economic,” he said.
Lagos lawyer and rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) also challenged the Federal Government to ensure that the Arewa youths were arrested and prosecuted.
Falana who spoke in Akure, the Ondo State capital tasked the Federal Government to institute legal action against the youths.
However, a member of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) Board of Trustees, Chief Rommy Ezeonwuka described the quit notice as a blessing in disguise; an opportunity to turn the South-east to Dubai and Japan of Africa when the Igbo in northern zones returned home with their wealth of experience in diverse areas to contribute to the development of Igboland.
He advised all Igbo in the North to make haste and return home, saying that no human being would hear that he would be killed and still remained where he or she was.
“Let the Igbo in the North come back home to help develop our land. Only the Igbo will go to another land and begin to build factories, hotels and other investments only to abandon them in time of crisis. Have you ever seen people from other ethnic groups building solid magnificent houses and other solid investments in Igbo land? That is why an Igbo man should learn his lessons,” Chief Ezeonwuka said.
The Movement for the Survival of Igbo People (MSIP) also joined the call for the arrest of all Arewa youth leaders that participated in the purported Kaduna declaration.
Vice Chairman of MSIP, Chuks Ogbuka noted that failure to do so would encourage people in other regions to retaliate and in the process heat up the polity.
Ethnic, regional tensions handiwork of political elite –Presidency
• Ostracise thieves in your midst, Osinbajo charges churches
From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja, with agency reports
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday, attributed the current ethnic and regional tensions in the country to the handiwork of some political elite.
Osinbajo made this known at a meeting of regional youth leaders organised by the Office of the Special Assistant to the President on Youth and Student Affairs at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja.
Osinbajo, who was represented by the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, urged youths to shun such questionable personalities in the interest of peace and progress of the country.
He noted that the elite were only using the youths to score cheap political goals and advised young people to shun any act capable of polarising the country along ethnic, sectional and religious lines.
“It will be worst for us if we allow some selfish people to push us to unnecessary war. Nigeria holds a lot of promises for all of us.
“I know and we all know that a lot of you have been excluded from the good things of this country and, of course, we can trace that to poor and bad governance over the years.
“But, again, what we should be clamouring for is good governance, not separatism, not secession.
“This is all about elite competition. The youths are only being used as tools to promote socio-political disorder.
“Only God knows how much some elite, who hid behind the curtains, paid those, who made that declaration in Kaduna. Okay, if I don’t want to be importing things from Singapore, I can use this idea of Biafra to make money and some people are making huge money from it.
“Those, who were agitating and calling for Biafra before, are now singing another tune after building their palaces,’’ he said.
He frowned at the hate speeches and divisive comments resonating across the country, stressing that the situation required urgent attention from all concerned, especially the youth groups in the country.
On his part, Senate leader, Ahmad Lawan, reassured that the National Assembly would continue to provide an atmosphere conducive for the youth to thrive in the country.
“…We also believe that we must enable them, we must provide them the opportunity to realise their dreams and aspirations.
“This situation that we have found ourselves in, where youths from different parts of the country make hate speeches, is not helping the country and the youths. You need to come together and you will find us as good and useful partners.
Alhaji Nasiru Adhama, the senior special assistant to the president on youth and student affairs, explained that the meeting was part of ongoing consultations with youth leaders, with a view to finding lasting solutions to youth agitations in the country.
Meanwhile, Osinbajo has charged churches in the country to ostracise men of questionable means whose wealth do not match their income.
He gave the charge at Aso Rock Chapel, when the church joined the rest of the world to celebrate this year’s Father’s Day.
“If the church says we will not accept you here or that we will expose you if you are stealing the resources of the country or stealing the resources of a private company or other establishment where you work, we would not have the type of problem we have in this country.”
Quoting from the book of Genesis 18:19., he urged fathers to emulate Abraham who adhered to God’s instruction to build generation of righteous men and women.
“I want to remind all our Christian leaders; the PFN and CAN, that it is the role of the church to build this nation. Every time we come to the church, we are told about giving, but we need to talk more about honesty. Just now, His Eminence said Nigeria’s greatest problem is not an absence of prosperity, as we have enough for our needs; rather, we don’t have enough for our greed. The greed of many is what has landed this country where it is today. Many of those in positions of authority are greed y, and that has landed us where we are. Many say the reason they are stealing is because they need to have an arsenal for future political experiment; it is a lie! It is greed.
“The church should say ‘you are not allowed to steal, we will ostracise the thieves in our midst’. If a man’s resources, what a man has does not measure up to what he earns; if you find out that a man has more money than he should have, or a man is earning a salary in a civil service or public service and he has houses everywhere, we have to hold him to account. He must first be held to account in the church. He must first be told in the church, ‘we will not allow this’. If the church ostracises the thieves; if the church says we will not accept thieves here or we will ensure that we expose you, you are stealing the resources of our nation, you are stealing the resources of a private company or other establishments, then, we will not have the kind of problems that we have in this country.”
On his part, Speaker Yakubu Dogara warned against the collapse of the family system in the country.
Speaking with newsmen shortly after the service, he said: “We should invest more, really as a nation, in fatherhood or in family. And, when children are properly brought up, you will see that most of the resources we channel towards control of crime and so many other government programmes, there will be no need for them, because we will have some transformations that only take place at the family level…”º
Harping on the importance of fathers to bring up their children with virtue of integrity, the Acting President said, “When I listened to His Eminence a few minutes ago, talking about the importance of the type of training we received as a child; the type of training where you were taught primarily about integrity; that you must be a person of integrity; that you must be truthful, you must be honest. That is the foundational teaching.
“Even knowing the 10 Commandment was enough to teach you about righteousness. That is so important especially for us who are Christians,” he stated.
Osinbajo called on fathers to love their wives and refrain from any forms of domestic violence.
On his part, Speaker Yakubu Dogara, warned against the collapse of family system in the country, urging the government to invest more in family.
Speaking with the newsmen shortly after the service, he said: “We should invest more, really as a nation, in fatherhood or in family. And when children are properly brought up, you will see that most of the resources we channel towards control of crime and so many other government programmes, there will be no need for them. Because we will have some kinds of transformation that only take place at the family level.
“Certain thing cannot be done by the government like we cannot just outsource discipline in a home, the issue of imparting or instilling morality in the life of our citizens. Government certainly cannot do that; it is the role of the family. So when we celebrate fathers like this, we celebrate fatherhood, we emphasise on the importance of the family as a unit in bringing up those components of society, performing its role and then turning citizens that are compliant. That therefore means that we won’t be spending money in fighting crime.
“When fathers do their work, the nation will have less work to do. And when next we have people in leadership who fail, who are patently corrupt, the question shouldn’t be ‘who is this?’ The question should be ‘who is the father of that person?’ I congratulate the fathers.”
He called on fathers to be exemplary in their conduct.
“If you wouldn’t want your children to follow your example, then it means you are failing as a father. And once father fails, family fails, certainly, the nation will fail because the family is the strength of a nation,” he said.