Youths from the Northern part of the country have appealed to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo to allow a complete separation of the Southeast states presently agitating for biafra republic from the federal republic of Nigeria through a peaceful political process.
According to them, taking steps to facilitate the actualisation of the biafran nation in line with the principle of self-determination and as an integral part of contemporary customary international law is the solution to incessant agitation from that part of the country.
This is contained in a letter by a coalition of Northern youths to the acting president signed by Ambassador Shettima Yerima, Joshua Viashman, Aminu Adam, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman and Nastura Ashir Sharif.
In the letter, the Northern youths contended that the principle of self-determination has since world war II become a part of the United Nations Charter, which states in Article 1(2) that one of the purposes of the UN is “to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples”.
They submitted that this protocol envisages that people of any nation have the right to self-determination, adding that even though the Charter did not categorically impose direct legal obligations on member states, it implies that member states allow agitating or minority groups to self-govern as much as possible.
They said, “Though we do not doubt Your Excellency’s bona fide concerns for the peaceful resolution of the crises, we nevertheless have reservations as to the efficacy of this approach in ensuring lasting solutions. Our doubts are informed by the following historical antecedents that have characterized the behavior and conduct of the Igbo in Nigeria and previous efforts at containing them.
“The Igbo of Eastern Nigeria manifested their hatred for Nigeria’s unity barely five years after we gained our independence from the British when on January 15, 1966, their army officers carried out the first-ever mutiny that marked the beginning of a series of crisis which has profoundly altered the course of Nigeria’s history.
“By that ill motivated cowardly and deliberate action, the Igbo killed many northern officers from the rank of lieutenant colonel upwards and also decapitated the Prime Minister and the political leadership of the Northern and Western regions but left the zenith of Igbo leadership at the Federal level and the Eastern region intact”.
In the statement made available to LEADERSHIP yesterday, the Nothern youths continued: “In line with the Igbo plan, General Aguiyi-Ironsi took advantage of the vacuum and, instead of returning power to the remnants of the First Republic government, he appropriated the coup and attempted to consolidate it for his people.
“Army officers of the Northern Region were eventually compelled to execute a counter coup on July 29, 1966 following a coordinated series of brazen provocations from the Igbo who taunting northerners on northern streets by mocking the way leaders of the region were slain by the Igbo. This unfortunately resulted in mob action which resulted in the death of many Igbos.
“And when Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon, from the North took over as Head of State following the counter coup, the Igbo through Lt. Col. Ojukwu, characteristically refused to recognize Gowon. Ojukwu declared the secession of the Igbo people from Nigeria and the formation of the republic of Biafra on May 30, 1967 resulting in a civil war that led to the tragic deaths of more than 2 million Nigerians”.
They reminded the acting president that the Igbo eventually capitulated and conceded defeat in an unconditional surrender and not an armistice, which renders any talk about biafra at any other time a repudiation of the terms of that surrender signed by Phillip Effiong and other biafran leaders.
The northern youths regretted that in a shot out of the blues, the Igbos have in the past two years regrouped and fiercely and openly discussed biafra again under Ralph Uwazuruike of the movement for the actualization of the sovereign state of biafra (MASSOB).
According to them, this was given greater impetus by a more furious Igbo rogue group called the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB) under Nnamdi Kanu who also operated an illegal radio station spreading hate and war messages across the nation, as well as calling other ethnic groups all sorts of names and threatening them with violent extermination.
They argued that the activities of the Igbo under Kanu’s IPOB had grown from ordering people of other regions out of the Southeast , particularly the Yorubas and Hausa /Fulani from the South West and the North respectively to an open declaration of the amassing of arms and forceful total shutdown of the entire Southeast.
The Northern youths told Osinbajo that, while Kanu and IPOB have declared full allegiance to a so called “Republic of Biafra” and have continued to preach hatred and war on a daily basis, no Igbo leader has call them to order for once.
They said rather, many of the leaders, including the deputy Senate president, Ike Ekweremadu who is the most senior elected Igbo paid Kanu courtesy calls to prove that he is speaking for the entire Igbo.
According to them, it is becoming clear to all that Kanu has serially breached all the terms of his stiff bail conditions in total disregard to the sanctity of Nigeria’s justice system.
They warned that given the unrepentant antecedents exhibited by the Igbos, they strongly believe that the gruesome picture that the biafran agitation represents is beyond a few people showcasing to the acting president that the Igbos will eventually heed the call for peace and desist from their dangerous campaign against Nigeria.
They said the seed of hate planted in the name of biafra was evidently so deep that the ongoing interaction between the acting president and the leaders from the Southeast cannot address the underlying problems.
The stated: “Concerned by the fact that the Biafrans have confessed to arming themselves for a violent breakup, we feel that it is risky for the rest of the country particularly the North to go on pretending that it is safe for us to co habitate with the Igbos given how deeply they are entrenched in our societies .
“And since evidently the Igbo have not been sufficiently humbled by their self imposed bloody civil violence of 1966, we are strongly concerned that nothing short of granting their Biafran dream will suffice.
“ And since the Igbo have virtually infiltrated every nook and cranny of Northern Nigeria where they have been received with open arms as fellow compatriots, we strongly believe that the region is no longer safe and secure in the light of the unfolding threats and the fact that for a long time, the Igbo have gone to extra ordinary lengths to ensure that in their domain in the South East, Northerners and Westerners are as much as possible disenfranchised from owning any businesses whereas in Kano alone, they own not less than 100, 000 shops across all the business districts.
“That since the younger generation of Nigerians makes up for more than 60 per cent of the nation’s population, it is our hope that they inherit this country in better shape so that they can build a much better future for themselves and their offsprings in an atmosphere that is devoid of anarchy, hate, suspicion and negativity that characterize the polarized, and clearly irreconcilable differences forced on us by the Biafran Igbos”.
Urging Osinbajo to let the Igbos go, the Northern youths said, “As the Igbo agitations persist and assume threatening dimensions, we submit that there is need to ensure that they are given the opportunity to exercise the right to self-determination as entrenched under the aforementioned international statutes to which Nigeria is a signatory.
“Aware that the right of self-determination in international law is the legal right for a “people” that allows them to attain a certain degree of autonomy from a sovereign state through a legitimate political process, we strongly demand for a referendum to take place in a politically sane atmosphere where all parties will have a democratic voice over their future and the future of the nation.
“The Igbo from all over the country and in the Diaspora should be advised to converge in their region in the South-East for a plesbisite to be organized and conducted by the United Nations and other regional bodies for them to categorically to decide between remaining part of Nigeria or having their separate country. That government should at the end of the plesbite implement whatever is agreed and resolved in order to finally put this matter to rest.
“Lastly, we pray His Excellency to study the references forwarded with this letter dispassionately and decide who is more in the wrong between those who openly pledge allegiance to a country other than Nigeria backing it up with persistent threats of war and those of us whose allegiance remains with the Nigerian state but simply urge that the secessionists be allowed to actualize their dream peacefully throw universally entrenched democratic options”.
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