Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo Sunday told the South East Traditional Rulers that agitations for secession by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and the ultimatum issued to Ndigbo by the 16 coalition of youths group to vacate the 19 Northern states before 1st October were wrong and a violation of Nigeria’s constitution.
Osinbajo also stated that the government must be sensitive to know the reasons behind the agitations by different groups across the various zones of the country, but warned that it was wrong for people to approach their grievances by threatening to disobey the laws or by threatening the integrity of the country.
The Acting President who stated this when he met with the South East Traditional Rulers at the Old Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa, Abuja, said that the Federal Government was committed to ensuring that the country remained one, adding that enough blood had been spilled and hundreds of thousands of lives lost in a bid to ensure that the country remained one.
The ongoing consultative meetings initiated by Prof. Osinbajo was in response to the count-down of quit notice given to the Igbos living in the 19 states of the north to vacate the region before 1st October as a result of the agitations by IPOB, Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB for a Biafra republic.
He said though those making the agitations had attributed their agitations to perceived marginalization, while some have argued that safety in the different zones has been compromised, the nation’s constitution has said that Nigeria is one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign state.
Prof. Osinbajo who disclosed that he would be meeting with traditional rulers from the north said, “In planning these meetings I was conscious that we should have a separate set of meetings with our traditional rulers because of the peculiar and the unique positions that they hold especially in their relationship with those that live in their kingdoms.
“This was the reason why we chose to have two separate meetings one with the South East Traditional Rulers and tomorrow evening I will be having one also with traditional rulers from the north.
“I want to emphasis that it is the unique position that traditional rulers occupy that is behind separate consultations and we want to take much advantage of it as much as possible.
“Most of us are aware especially for those who have been following the consultations, we have worked very hard to ensure that the representations across the two zones that we are interested in consulting with initially are as wide as possible and we have tried to inculcate that even in our traditional rulers today.
“As you are aware there has been agitation from some of our youths in the south east urging secession, the creation of Biafra.
In apparent response young people in the north states, under the aegis of Arewa youths have purportedly issued an ultimatum where they have said set a date for the eviction of persons from south east region who live in the northern states.
“Those agitations, the manner of those agitations, the method and objective are wrong, unlawful and the violation of the laws of Nigeria and the constitution of Nigeria.
I want to repeat that both the agitations for secession and the ultimatum to leave the northern states are wrong and a violation of our constitution.
“Our constitution says in Section Two that Nigeria is one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign state to be known by the name the federal republic of Nigeria.
“That is the law of our country. Let us not be in any doubt about the fact that the federal government is committed to ensuring that our country remains united.
“And that anyone who violates the law in the manner such as we are seeing all over the place will be met with the full force of the law.
“And the reason why it is so is because Nigeria’s unity enough blood has been spilled and many hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost.
Many have paid for the unity of this country with their lives and it will be wrong of us as men and women of goodwill in this generation to toy with those sacrifices that have been made.
“This is why men of goodwill in our generation must not tolerate any tendency that drags us in the direction of yet another civil conflict.
“But we must be sensitive to the reasons why there are agitations by the various young men across the various zones of this country. Many have to do with perceived marginalization, some have argued safety in the different zones have been compromised. But I want to say the only way to make things right is to do things right. And it will be wrong of us to approach even our grievances by threatening to disobey the laws or by threatening the integrity of our nation.
“What the federal government is committed to do is by ensuring we listen to all the reasons, the various suggestions and the various agitations and the reasons for those agitations and to ensure that we do justice by all persons regardless of where you are from in this country. That is the commitment of federal government which I am able to make to you today.
“I recall that President Muhammadu Buhari said that as a person who served in the Nigeria Army committed his life to the service of this country and that he did so not alone but with others from the north, south, west and east of Nigeria. And that he fought side by side from the Congo to some many related places where he has served the country, protecting each other’s lives and ensuring that all of them were save.
“That in the Nigerian Army they were men and women from all parts of Nigeria and that is the reason according to him why he is so committed in ensuring that Nigeria remains one united country
“Our greatness lies in our being together and I believe very strongly that as our royal fathers you will ensure the message is clear to all, that the greatness of any people lies in their ability to work together despite our differences, despite the types of offense that have been caused between each other, the greatness of any community lies in our unity. We trust that you our royal fathers will give us he right directional advise to ensure that our country remains together.”
The delegation of the South East Traditional Rulers was led by the Chairman, South East Traditional Rulers Council, His Eminence, Eze Dick Eberechi and some of the selected monarchs from the zone which included His Royal Highness, Eze Cosmas Agwu, Eze Lawrence Agubuzu, His Royal Majesty, Eze Raphael Ikegwuruka, His Royal Majesty, Eze Chijioke Okwara, His Royal Majesty, Olivel Ohanwe, HRM, Eze Samuel Agunwa, HRM, Igwe Apostle Kingsley Chime, HRH, Igwe Barrister Julius NNaji, HRH, and Igwe Barrister Raphael Eze among others.
The closed-door meeting which started about 3:30pm also had in attendance, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu and the Minister of State, Education, Prof. Anthony Anwuka, the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, the National Security Adviser, NSA, Major Gen. Babagana Munguno, Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin.
Recall that the Acting president had met with the leaders of the North including the Arewa Consultative Forum, the South East leaders and Ohaneze Ndigbo, the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, and the heads of security apparatus.