"We can’t afford another war" - Northern elders tells FG to allow Igbos secede, if it’s their wish

The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) asked the federal government not to resist any move for secession by the Igbos if it is supported by the people of the region.

The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) have been campaigning for the secession of the East from Nigeria.

MASSOB was formed in 1999 by Ralph Uwazuruike, while IPOB was founded in 2012 by Nnamdi Kanu.

The groups have been calling for referendum allow the people of that region to chose whether or not to remain in Nigeria. 

Addressing journalists after a closed-door meeting held in Abuja on Monday, spokesman of NEF, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, said the agitation by the Igbo for secession has become widespread, adding that the leaders in the region appear to support the decision.

Baba-Ahmed advised that standing in the way of the agitators will only worsen the insecurity in the country.

“This nation has had to fight a terrible war to preserve the country. The north had paid its dues in that war, as indeed it did in many ways throughout the history of the country. Under our current circumstances, no Nigerian should welcome another war to keep the country together,” he said.

“The forum has arrived at the difficult conclusion that if support for secession among the Igbo is as widespread as it is being made to look, and Igbo leadership appears to be in support of it, then the country should be advised not to stand in its way.

“It will not be the best choice for the Igbo or Nigerians to leave a country we have all toiled to build and a country we all have the responsibility to fix, but it will not help a country already burdened with failures on its knees to fight another war to keep the Igbo in Nigeria.”

"The Forum insists that attacks and killings of Northerners and Federal Government employees and destruction of National assets must stop. Those who have been involved in it must be arrested and prosecuted.

“Until the Igbo decide whether it wants to secede or remain part of Nigeria, the law applies to it, and Federal and State Governors who have a responsibility to enforce the law and protect citizens must enforce it. We support calls for Northerners who are exposed to harassment and violence to consider relocating to the North.

“Unlike the postures and complacency of the leaders of the South East, we advise that all Igbo and other ethnic groups from the South residing in the North should be accorded the usual hospitality and security.”

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