Northerners Elders Forum (NEF) Wednesday charged President Muhammadu Buhari regime to go on with the trial of leader of Independent People of Biafra Nnamdi Kanu, accusing Igbo elites who are demanding the release of Mr Kanu of “inviting” more calamity on South-East region.
“IPOB’s plans to frustrate the governorship election in Anambra State this weekend must be resisted,” NEF said. “The ongoing trial of its leader should proceed in accordance with the laws of the land, and elites from the region who demand that he is accorded special treatment in return for peace should know that they are merely inviting more threats on the people they should help to protect.”
This position was made known in a statement by the group’s spokesperson Hakeem Baba-Ahmed after a meeting with convener of the group, Abdullahi Ango, on Wednesday.
The Forum said IPOB has become a security threat to the country as its recent activities has continued to ruin the economy of South-East region.
“Activities of the outlawed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) represent an unacceptable threat to security and rights of fellow Nigerians in the states of the South-East region, and the country as a whole. Its damage to the economy of the South-East is already registered as a major disaster.”
Mr Kanu has been facing charges of terrorism and an attempt to overthrow the Nigerian government. He was abducted by Nigerian agents in Nairobi, Kenya in June and transferred to Abuja.
His case has since been reopened at the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court and was last adjourned till November 10.
Attorney General of the Federation Abubakar Malami last month claimed Kanu-led IPOB was responsible for the burning down of Oba of Lagos Palace following shooting of #EndSARS protesters at Lekki Tolling Gate last year October, a development that triggered crisis in the state.
But Peoples Gazette exposed Mr Malami’s claims were false as all charged with burning down of Oba of Lagos Palace were Yorubas according to court documents.
Read full statement below:
Statement of Northern Elders Forum
Northern Elders Forum concluded a meeting under leadership of its Convener, Professor Ango Abdullahi. The meeting undertook a sweeping survey of recent developments in the country and decided to release this Statement.
1.The Forum took note of the worsening security situation in the country, in spite of claims by the administration to the contrary. Boko Haram insurgency continues to be a major threat in the North East, while kidnapping and large scale banditry in many other parts of the North are taking over lives of large portions of the population. IPOB threatens to eradicate the influence of legitimate authority in the South East. Politicians and influential people are worsening the nation’s fault lines by the manner they seek political advantages through the exploitation of threats to our unity and peaceful co-existence. Poverty and poor governance are fueling widespread alienation from mainstream social existence.
The Forum joins the nation in its outrage over the fact that Maiduguri, Borno State capital has been without power from the national grid for ten months, and is alarmed by signs that its population could be forced to resign to living with this additional assault on their lives and livelihood. This situation must be reversed at all cost. The planned closure of Internally-Dispersed Persons(IDP) camps should be carefully considered so that it does not place more victims in avoidable peril.
The Forum regrets that arguments over labelling bandits as terrorists wastes attention and energy. If labeling bandits as terrorists will substantially improve the capacity of the Nigerian state to eliminate this expanding scourge, the Forum supports it without reservation. In any case, all lawful options in bringing this menace to an end must be pursued. Measures put in place to contain its spread should be diligently monitored and evaluated, and those that merely worsen the condition of living of law-abiding population should be removed. Governments should be sensitive to the possibility of severe food shortage in the next few months in many Northern communities, in addition to escalating cost of living which will combine to confront the poor with intolerable conditions of living.
Activities of the outlawed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra(IPOB) represent an unacceptable threat to security and rights of fellow Nigerians in the States of the South East region, and the country as a whole. Its damage to the economy of the South East is already registered as a major disaster. IPOB’s plans to frustrate the Governorship election in Anambra State this weekend must be resisted. The on-going trial of its leader should proceed in accordance with the laws of the land, and elites from the region who demand that he is accorded special treatment in return for peace should know that they are merely inviting more threats on the people they should help to protect.
2. The Forum notes that the nation is coming to terms with a major requirement of the democratic process, which is the right of all citizens to freely participate in all political activities. It is now accepted wisdom that every Nigerian can contest for any office to which he/she is qualified, and voters will choose their next leaders in credible elections. The Forum salutes all Nigerians who toiled to restore a level playing field to our democratic system. It is now left to politicians and other leaders to conduct the type of politics that builds into it real equity, fairness, competence and justice, through inclusive campaigns and responsible approach towards the 2023 elections. The people of the North want to work with other Nigerians to produce a competent and committed Nigerian leadership that will restore confidence in our country’s capacity to survive and rebuild itself for the next generations.
3. The Forum notes that PDP and APC dominate the political landscape. It further notes that Nigerians will benefit from additional options, both to improve competition and to broaden the leadership selection process. The Forum looks forward to the emergence and consolidation of other parties in the political environment. The continued existence of State electoral commissions which conduct elections into Local Government Councils is severely damaging the democratic process. The Forum advises that the on-going constitutional amendments should include the scrapping of these commissions and the assumption of their duties by INEC.
4. The Forum notes that opportunities exist for Nigerians to register to vote in the 2023 elections. Apathy, anger and frustrations arising from failure of elected leaders to improve lives of citizens and insecurity are keeping many Nigerians from their rights and obligations to register and vote. The Forum urges especially Northerners to register and prepare to vote for new and more competent and honest leaders in the 2023 elections.
Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed
Director, Publicity and Advocacy
Northern Elders Forum