Panic grips Igbo residents in Kaduna over Northern Youths’ deadline
Panic has gripped the Igbo community in Kaduna and the Northern communities over the October 1 ultimatum given them by the Northern youths to vacate the north, as the Igbo leaders have called for calm and restraint in fleeing from the region.
Many Igbos resident in Kaduna are under panic situation as they are equally undecided whether to start moving their families back to the eastern States on the strength of the threat by Northern youths that all the Ibos should leave the region.
President General of Igbo Community Welfare Association, Kaduna, Chief Chris Nnoli, has, however, urged all Igbos resident in Kaduna and other parts of the region not to panic and begin to move their families and property back to the East, saying that the Governments in the North and elders are already on top of the situation.
The leader of Igbo community in Kano, the Eze Ndigbo, Chief Boniface Ibekwe, has also urged the Ndigbo in the state to remain calm and go about their lawful businesses without fear of molestation, saying Igbos are committed to unity and stability of Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU) has condemned the Kaduna declaration of the Northern youths, asking the Igbos to go back to the eastern states, while requesting the Federal Government and the International community to facilitate the referendum for the creation of a Biafran State.
The Igbo Community President-General in Kaduna, Nnoli, while urging the residents to stop panicking and resist the temptation of moving their families back to the South East said: “We have told everybody not to panic. We have told everybody to remain calm.”
“The assurances we have received from the Government of Kaduna State, and the leadership of Northern Nigeria and even the IG has told us to remain calm. And the elders of the north have also told us their stand and we believe them. So we have told our people to remain calm and not to panic in any form, as to rushing back home.”
Ibekwe also told The Guardian that over three million Igbo people resident in Kano are peace-loving and would not do anything to jeopardise the unity of the country.
Ibekwe, who is also the Eze Diorama IV and President General of all the Ezes in the Diaspora, maintained: “We believe and based on my understanding as a major stakeholder in the north, that the northern leaders are never in support of the threat, so they should ignore it and go about their day-to-day businesses and activities.
“If they want to issue such a threat, it must be with numerous consultations, which I am aware was not. So, as far as we are concerned, we know and have faith in the ability of Nigerians to solve their problems. Whatever their grievances are, the appropriate authorities would look into it, so they should not take the law into their hands.
“I want to advise the Ndigbo in Kano to simply ignore the threat and go about their normal businesses.” He added: “Already, the threat has heightened tension in some areas of Kano, particularly in the Sabon Gari area of the city predominantly occupied by non-indigenous community and some are already being inundated with phone calls from their respective hometowns to relocate to avoid being trapped in the impending crisis.
‘”A lady received a call from her husband, who is based in the Southeast, requesting her to ensure that she wraps up her business within three months and rush back home,” Ibekwe lamented.
He promised that Ndigbo in Kano would soon summon a meeting of stakeholders and northern elders to channel their grievance to appropriate quarters.
Meanwhile, in most part of the metropolis in Kaduna where the Igbos have their businesses such as Ibadan Street, Ahmadu Bello Way, Katsina Road, Oriapkata and Pantaka Market, several of them were seen gathering in groups to discuss the declaration by the northern youths.
One of the traders at Pantaka Market, who gave his name as Obi Okonkwo, told The Guardian, “many of us are already discussing how we can charter vehicles to carry our families back to the east as a result of the ultimatum by these northern youths”.
“We cannot fold our hands and watch and say it cannot happen. So, we are also preparing to save ourselves from dangers in this place”, he added.
However, Nnoli, while lamenting the unfolding scenario about the threat posed by the Arewa youth’s declaration, said “the whole thing is unfortunate and coming at this stage of our national development”.
According to him: “Our people are very disturbed. But, with the timely intervention of the Governors in the north by trying to stop some of the activities of the northern youth and ordering their arrest and prosecution, and also the intervention of ACF, the elders of the north, they have also intervened. So far we are telling everybody to remain calm, especially our people, they should remain calm and go about their lawful business and also be law abiding”.
He also said: “As far as I know there are processes in going about the referendum. The issue of this referendum depends on whether it is there in our constitution. And again, it all depends on the people. I think all we need to do as a country and people is to sit down and find solution to this emerging problem of the country.”
“As far as I am concerned not every Igbo man buys into the idea of the creation of the state of Biafra. And it should not be generalized as if everybody is looking for that. I think it is not fair for everybody to begin to target the entire Igbo in the north as if that is their position.”
Nnoli stressed: “We have never in any way come out to demonstrate in support of the Biafran State and also state that that is our position.
“In the entire northern Nigeria we have never come out to do any demonstration in favour of the creation and in support. And you can also cross-check, even last week, when there was a declaration of sit-at-home in support of Biafra State, all of us here in the north went about our duties. So, that is to show you that everybody has his own way of looking at his problem”.