The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) has alleged that the raging Biafra agitation, led by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), is aimed to bring about the collapse of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and split the country.
The allegations were made in a statement issued on Wednesday. Signed by the coalition’s spokesperson, Mr. Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, the statement said the turmoil generated by agitations since President Buhari assumed power in 2015 are aimed at making the country ungovernable and to ensure a change of government by “whatever means and tactics”. According to the CNG, the irreverent being meted out to the President is part of a plot to cause an inter-regional crisis that could lead to general unrest.
“The resurgence of separatist agitations, especially the violent brand by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its ilk in the South-East, represent a much wider conspiracy to divide Nigeria along ethnic and religious fault lines as well as achieve the balkanization of the North. The current IPOB brand of agitation is a strategy employed to achieve the results that the coupists of the First Republic failed to realize, namely, increase the weight and relevance of the regions to the detriment and expense of the central government,” CNG stated.
The coalition added that the alleged strategy aims to rob the North of its viability and render it incapable of standing alone through the destabilization of the Buhari administration’s efforts to diversify the economy with emphasis on agricultural revival. It warned that if the suspected objectives are not realized through agitation and propaganda, the South-East will resort to more violent means, starting with the instigation of more unrest through stoking religious and ethnic discontent.
“The agitations for separation and the cry for Biafra would become louder and the agitators, supported by their politicians, would become emboldened to act in more radical and violent manner, thereby sparking retaliation in the North, with subsequent attacks to be perpetrated against Northerners in the South-East. In the event of such, the North would then be held up as the real culprit and the cause of the breakup of Nigeria,” CNG further reasoned.
The coalition also said the decibel of agitations is planned to grow louder in 2018, ensure that there are no elections in 2019 and eventually cause the collapse of the current democratic experiment. It explained that it is for these reasons that Northerners have restrained themselves into taking reprisal actions against the instigators.
“As cultured people with a long history of tolerance and respect for constituted authority, we call on northerners to resist the temptation of carrying out reprisals and playing to the gallery. Northerners, in line with their disciplined nature, must refuse at this point to be dragged into taking the law into their hands through unnecessary and unproductive confrontations with members of any sectional, ethnic or religious group. We must remain peacefully focused, mutually respectful, trusting and tolerant as we repose confidence in the ability and committed willingness of the Nigerian security agencies to handle the situation as well as protect the lives and properties of every Nigerian anywhere,” said the coalition.
It maintained that its struggle is underpinned by intellectualism, the reason for which, in June, it wrote separate letters to the Federal Government, UN Secretary-General and foreign missions in the country. This step, added the CNG, will be followed by similar communication to African Union Chairperson, President, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); President, UN General Assembly; President, UN Security Council; President, Human Rights Council in Geneva; UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; and Chairman, African Peer Review Mechanism.
Equally to be communicated with are President, African Court of People’s and Human Rights in Banjul, The Gambia; Chairman, African Commission on People’s and Human Rights; Speaker, Pan-African Parliament; Speaker, ECOWAS Parliament; High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) as well as Chairman and Executive Board members of the National Commission on Human Rights.
CNG said its objective is to immediately provide the International Criminal Court (ICC) evidence of incitement to violence and possible mass-atrocity crimes or even genocide against the North.
“The precedents established at the International Tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda for instance, regarding the propagation of hate speech and incitement to violence, shall be adduced and presented. We plan to develop plans for effective advocacy and engagement not only with internal partners but also with external entities that would have to be reasoned with or contacted in event of the rupture or deterioration of the situation in the country,” said the Northern coalition.
To start its advocacy, CNG said it will sensitize people in the 19 Northern states to the need to ignore deliberate misinformation and incitement from other sections. It similarly stated that it is working on modalities for peaceful negotiations with other peace-loving groups and expressed confidence in the ability of the Federal Government and security agencies to restore peace in the country and protect the lives and properties all Nigerians.