By Henry Okonkwo
The Coalition of Northern Groups has called on the Federal Government to go beyond the arrests of separatists, Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, and Sunday Igboho, Yoruba nation agitator, and also clamp down on elites sponsoring the agitations.
The CNG in a statement on Tuesday, accused Southern governors and elites of supporting and arming separatist leaders to perpetrate violence against the North and Northern interest in the South.
In the statement by CNG’s spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, the group warned that the arrest of the agitators will not be the end of uprising and disturbances in Southern Nigeria.
According to the CNG, the agitation was being fuelled by Yoruba leaders including their governments to “scare the North into agreeing to cede power without competition”.
The statement read, “From the outset, we wish to be categoric that the arrest of Igboho and Kanu should not be mistaken as bringing about the end to the uprisings and disturbances over self-determination perpetrated by Southern Nigerian elites and governments who use thugs like Igboho and Kanu.
“We insist that rather than seeing the arrest as an end in itself, it should be the beginning of the processes for self-determination by any unit that wants to go.
“Therefore we insist on a peaceful referendum for separation from a people who would, at the slightest of pretexts, attack, kill and destroy people of other regions and their properties especially those from the North.
“Kanu and Igboho should be charged with incitement against the North in tandem with international law.
“The arrest of Igboho is government business and so long as it conforms with the principle of rule of law and international criminal justice procedures.
“We are not yet sure what he is going to be charged with, but expectedly incitement to violence against northerners would be one of them.
“We all know that threats of violent secession anywhere are a grave offence that no government will condone. From records of history, it is only northern Nigeria that has not called for the breakup of the country at the slightest of pretence.
“With the arrest of Kanu and now Igboho, we are hoping that the government would go beyond prosecution to digging up and exposing their sponsors and the agenda behind them.
“While Kanu’s case may be attributed to some form of insanity which was exploited by the South-East elites who were playing a double game, Igboho is a deliberate and calculated, supported and encouraged attempt by the Yoruba leaders including their governments to scare the North into agreeing to cede power without competition.
“Unfortunately they took it too far by arming Igboho and setting him against law-abiding citizens from other regions particularly the North.
“The arrest of Igboho, if considered along with that of Kanu, should serve as a lesson to those blind followers who are instigated into setting fire to their own backyards whereas the instigators of such lawlessness and violence almost all the time have a fall-back option that includes escaping abroad.
“The two arrests also attest to the level of cross-regional cooperation that is working across Africa.”