The Northern Elders Forum has advised the Nigerian government not to resist any move for secession by the Igbos if it is supported by the people of the region and the Igbo leadership.
The Forum also accused leaders in the southeastern region of the country of complacency and succumbing to violence and terror of separatist group Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its militant wing the Eastern Security Network (ESN).
Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, the Director of Publicity and Advocacy for the Forum stated this on Monday at a press conference in the Nigerian capital, Abuja. He noted that the West African country cannot afford to fight another war to keep the Igbos seeing that Nigeria is on her knees and already burdened with failures.
“The Forum has arrived at the difficult conclusion that if support for secession among the Igbo is as widespread as it is being made to look, and Igbo leadership appears to be in support of it, then the country should be advised not stand in its way,” the forum had said in the statement.
“It will not be the best choice for the Igbo or Nigerians to leave a country we have all toiled to build and a country we all have responsibility to fix, but it will not help a country already burdened with failures on its knees to fight another war to keep the Igbo in Nigeria.”
The northern group also called for an end to the killings of northerners, security officials as well as attacks on government institutions especially in the southeast.
“The Forum insists that attacks and killings of Northerners and Federal Government employees and destruction of National assets must stop. Those who have been involved in it must be arrested and prosecuted,” the Forum noted.
“Until the Igbo decide whether it wants to secede or remain part of Nigeria, the law applies to it, and Federal and State Governors who have a responsibility to enforce the law and protect citizens must enforce it. We support calls for Northerners who are exposed to harassment and violence to consider relocating to the North.
“Unlike the postures and complacency of the leaders of the South East, we advise that all Igbo and other ethnic groups from the South residing in the North should be accorded the usual hospitality and security.”
By Abel Ejikeme