On June 6, 2017, a coalition of groups describing themselves as “Northern Youths” came together and issued what they called ‘The Kaduna Declaration’. They issued a three-month ultimatum to all Igbos to leave the north while asking all northerners to also leave the South-East. The coalition served the Igbos its intention to “reclaim, assume and assert sole ownership and control of … landed” properties and assets owned by Igbos in Northern Nigeria. Interestingly and by implication, the group claimed to be speaking for the 19 Northern States of Nigeria. The alleged crime of the Igbos was their quest for secession.
We in SOKAPU held back for a while to carefully study the national implication of that declaration, but we can say now without doubt that Section 41, Sub-section 1 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria very explicitly safeguards the rights of all Nigerians to reside in any part of the country with no hindrance whatsoever. The “Arewa Youths” that spoke lack the mandate to speak for all the people of the north, and, certainly, not for Southern Kaduna people. We insist that all Nigerians have the right to live and carry out legitimate affairs in all parts of the Country.
We unequivocally disassociate ourselves from the toxic fumes of hate and bigotry belched out against the Igbos without provocation by the so-called Arewa Youths for the following reasons:
a. The lgbos did not in anyway offend Southern Kaduna People. We are a hospitable and accommodating people. We assure the Igbos that their property and assets (movable or immovable) in Southern Kaduna are secured, assured and guaranteed. The security of all Igbos in Southern Kaduna is guaranteed. We will continue to accommodate the Igbos and all persons of goodwill towards us irrespective of their primordial, ethnic or religious cleavages.
b. The expressed desire of the Igbos to have a separate country of their own is an inalienable right which has not in any way, in our opinion, translated into a crime or provocation to us in Southern Kaduna, the North or the Nigerian State.
c. The lgbos have so far in our estimation merely exercised their rights to gather and to protest peacefully. They exercised their constitutional rights to acquire property in the nooks and crannies of this country. These are not criminal actions.
d. We were not consulted by the so-called Arewa groups before issuing the Kaduna Declaration despite the fact that Southern Kaduna is in the North West. The declarants, it appears clearly, do not see us as part of the North. None of the 53 ethnic nationalities of Southern Kaduna were consulted. Neither was SOKAPU the umbrella body of the 53 ethnic nationalities of Southern Kaduna consulted. They have, it appears, excised us from the North. They have shown utter contempt and disregard for us as a people. They did not speak for us. Those making such calls threatening fire and brimstone on the Igbos have only served to poignantly demonstrate their bizarre nature. They should be arrested and prosecuted by the Nigerian State immediately. To threaten bona fide Nigerians with eviction and confiscation of their properties is to beat war drums. It is incitement against the Igbos. We condemn the Declaration without reservations.
We ask the “Northern Youths” to look carefully inward into the north and they would find that other bigger problems facing the north’s existence, unity and cohesion has been festering without any comments from them. They should work towards strengthening the fragile trust that exists between and amongst all northerners with other ethnic groups than resorting to hate statements and incendiary ultimatum to bonafide Nigerians. These issues should be of immediate concern to them and not the Igbos.
Signed: Mr Yakubu Kuzamani
National Public Relation Officer