IWA calls on southern governors to protect citizens, territories from influx of northerners
Despite the nationwide lockdown, the south-south, south east and some states in the south western part of Nigeria have continued to see an influx of northern youths. The Igbo World Assembly, IWA, the Umbrella organization that represents the Apex National Igbo Organizations in the diaspora has therefore raised alarm, saying that the movement is an ominous sign that something sinister might be in the offing.
The group in a communiqué after a Skype meeting held recently while making case for dialogue on a restructured Nigeria, devolution of power for fairness, equity, and justice for all Nigerians warned governors of the 17 states in Southern Nigeria of an imminent invasion.
“We urge these states to take immediate steps to secure their citizens and territories”, IWA said in the communiqué signed by its Chairman, Nwachukwu Anakwenze.
“We are requesting all communities in the Southeast and South-South geo-political zones to activate their defense mechanism in order to prevent the invasion of their territories by suspected terrorists and jihadists in order to prevent massive genocide”, Anawkenze noted in the communiqué.
According to him, the need for self-defense has become necessary because of the inability of the law enforcement agencies to defend the people from these able-bodied youths, who have been terrorizing many communities in Nigeria and Igboland.
“These able-bodied young men from Northern Nigeria are being smuggled into the South East, South-South and southwest and some parts of the middle belt of the country in droves. This is in spite of the nationwide lockdown, the ban on interstate travel and the 1000 kilometers distance between many parts of the north and the south on roads which are manned by Nigerian security agencies.
“The volume of people arriving, the age of the people arriving, and the frequency and timing of their arrival in spite of the ban on interstate travel, due to the Covid-19 situation, indicate that this is a coordinated effort masterminded by an unknown group.
“Given the lockdown due to Covid-19 pandemic and the Nigerian Center for disease control and prevention(NCDC) nationwide imposed lockdown regulations, why are these young men presumably from Northern Nigeria crossing into the South East, South-South, and South West borders unchecked and in violation of the NCDC regulations and oblivious to the consequences of the impacts of their unchecked and possible spread of Covid-19 to the respective zones?
“If these young men, presumably from Northern Nigeria are truly Nigerians and economic migrants, there are time and place such incursion, given the NCDC regulations and fear of the spread of Covid-19 to the South-East and South-South zones”, Anakwenze noted in the communiqué.
While the group acknowledges that over the years, people from the Northern part of Nigeria had free access to the Southern part of the country without anyone raising eyebrows, Anakwenze said that things have changed with the sustained terrorism and banditry going on in the North and the recent threat by the Boko Haram to launch attacks in Southern Nigeria.
Noting that the Fulani herdsmen and Hausa traders have been part and parcel of many states in the South as they conducted their trade in cattle and agricultural products, the current mass migration, Anakwenze said is different because it involves mostly young men who have no identifiable businesses to transact or wares to sell but are moving down to the South in a suspicious manner.
Although the 1999 Nigerian Constitution states that every citizen has the right to live and do business in any part of Nigeria, IWA contended that such a constitutional provision must not be upheld to a ridiculous level where a group of citizens could claim right to move into any part of Nigeria for ulterior motives.
IWA maintained the right to free movement and liberty to settle in any part of Nigeria must be predicated on good conscience and desire to engage in a legitimate business.
“The current situation is very worrisome because even if there is no lockdown, freedom of movement to any part of the country does not mean freedom to undermine the security of the people. It should be noted that Ndiigbo who live in the north are mostly law-abiding citizens who contribute to the economic development of the region.
“It does not appear that the current movement of these Fulani youths down to the South is by the invitation of anybody because there are no new factories opening anywhere in the South where they are going to be employed but they are being shipped to the South with only one agenda and that is to destabilize the region,” he said.
The Federal Government of Nigeria, according to IWA, must be mindful that its inability to explain the rationale for this sudden influx of these young men from presumably Northern Nigeria has led to the perception that something is remise and that these young men presumably from Northern Nigeria are sponsored by unknown group with specific agenda to infiltrate South-East and South-South with an undisclosed agenda.
“IWA demands for appropriate measures to ease these concerns. If they are not instituted, then the Southeast, South-South communities will be left with no other option than to defend themselves in the event of nefarious activities,” Anakwneze said.