OHANEZE Ndigbo president Dr Nnia Nwodo has charged the people of the southeast to be ready to defend themselves from those he called war mongers in response to a recent threat from a body known as the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG).
Earlier this week, the CNG gave the federal government a 30-day ultimatum to begin implementing a Ruga settlement programme that would force state governors to hand over their land to Fulani cattle herdsmen. This was in response to a decision by the federal government to abandon the programme in the midst of fierce opposition to it from across the country as ill-thought and unworkable.
Nigeria’s Land Use Act vests the control of land in the 36 state governors, so before the federal government can embark on any project, it needs the state government to grant it land. Despite the federal abandoning the scheme, the CNG decided to heat up the political temperature by issuing an ultimatum that the decision be reversed.
Warning that threats would no longer be tolerated, Dr Nwodo described the action of the coalition as irresponsible and treasonable. He added that Ruga farm settlements were a violation of the country’s constitution, so could not be accepted and warned those trying to force them on the rest of Nigeria to desist.
Dr Nwodo said: “My attention has been drawn to a broadcast by Abdul Azeez Suleman, speaking for the Coalition of Northern Groups in which he had the audacity to give the federal government an ultimatum of 30 days to rescind its decision on the suspension of its Ruga settlements policy. This irresponsible, unlawful and provocative outburst reminds me of the quit notice from northern youths two years ago.
“Ohanaeze insists that the Ruga policy is an Islamisation and a Fulanisation policy, it is a violation of our constitution and supreme court decisions on the Land Use Act. Its suspension without cancellation leaves the federal government still in violation of our laws.
“The threat to evict law abiding Nigerians from their places of abode in northern Nigeria is treasonable and obviously like the gun trotting herdsmen will go unnoticed by our federally controlled law enforcement agencies. I call on all Igbo to be ready to defend themselves. Enough of these threats.”
He added that Igbos residing in northern Nigeria have no objection to leaving the region as long the northerners based in the southeast would also relocate. He stressed that by so doing, we would have dismantled the federal structure imposed on us by the military and return to autonomous federating units.
Dr Nwodo added: “Let Abdul, the federal government and others like them take notice that Ohanaeze has no objections to all Igbos in the north returning home so long as all northerners in the east leave too. The nepotism exhibited by this federal government, her duplicity of standards in law enforcement, her undisguised Fulanisation policy is repugnant to the rule of law and good governance.
“We will no longer tolerate any further threats from these northern war mongers. After all, who should be aggrieved under the circumstance? The south that is bearing the yoke of oppression from cattle herders are trying their best to coexist with their aggressors, yet it is the aggressors that are threatening further mayhem.”