Nasir el-Rufa’i, governor of Kaduna state, has ordered the arrest of members of the groups which gave the Igbo three-month ultimatum to leave the north. He gave the order at a press conference in Arewa House, Kaduna, on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, a coalition of northern youths declared that the north could no longer co-exist with the Igbo.
But speaking through Samuel Aruwan, his spokesman, the governor condemned the action of the groups and assured every resident of Kaduna that “nobody can tamper with their freedom to reside where they choose.”
“The Kaduna state government took exception to the fact that the ‘northern youths’ did their irresponsible press conference in Kaduna,” he said.
“This government has been consistent in taking action to punish hate speech and incitement. People who may feel unhappy about irresponsible comments or actions that have taken place in other states must know that two wrongs cannot make a right and they cannot use our state to do or say things that threaten the peace. Kaduna state government has therefore ordered the arrest, investigation and prosecution of the signatories to the statement.
“The Kaduna state government condemns in the strongest terms the press statement by some self-appointed ‘northern youths’ that threatened the safety and property of our citizens of Igbo extraction. Government assures every resident of our state that their constitutional and human rights to live peacefully and own property wherever they choose is sacrosanct. Even people who may feel unhappy about irresponsible comments or actions that have taken place in other states must know that two wrongs cannot make a right.
“The Kaduna state government believes in and will uphold the right of every Nigerian to live safely and develop his/her full potentials within its territory.
“Reckless disregard for the rights of other citizens drips through the press statement by these “northern youths” who have chosen to use the discourse around restructuring to promote their own agenda of hate, division and incitement. This sort of opportunists cannot be allowed to distort debate, or turn it into a pretext for a barely-disguised agenda of displacement and dispossession of some citizens.
“We will not tolerate such irresponsible statements and conduct in our state. The statement issued by the “northern youths” violates the laws of Kaduna state. Therefore, the Kaduna state government has directed its ministry of justice to prepare charges and prosecute the signatories and anyone complicit in arranging this egregious assault on the rights of fellow citizens.
“Preparatory to prosecution, the police have been directed to immediately arrest, interrogate the signatories to the statement and investigate all the circumstances and persons that may be implicated in the matter.
“The Kaduna State Government urges all residents to ignore the threats from the “northern youths”. We are in contact with the leadership of the Igbo community in Kaduna, and we are delighted to say that this community, like all our other communities, believes in the strength of the constitutional order to protect all citizens.
“Kaduna state government wishes to encourage all our people to celebrate the diversity with which the Almighty has blessed us, to continue to shun agents of division, and to stand firm in upholding a common humanity. Everyone has a right to live in peace and harmony.”