North­ern Youths To With­draw Quit No­tice To Ig­bos This Week, Says Shet­tima…

THISDAY - - FRONT PAGE - Onye­buchi Ezigbo in Abuja, David-Chy­ddy Eleke in Awka and Em­manuel Ugwu in Umuahia

The coali­tion of North­ern youths that asked Ig­bos in the North to quit the re­gion be­fore Oc­to­ber 1, 2017, has agreed to with­draw the quit no­tice and give peace a chance, Borno State Gov­er­nor, Al­haji Kashim Shet­tima, said yes­ter­day in Abuja.

Ad­dress­ing jour­nal­ists shortly after a meet­ing with the Arewa Youth Coali­tion at the Borno Gov­ern­ment Lodge, Asokoro in Abuja, Shet­tima said the youth groups had promised to make a pub­lic state­ment to that ef­fect this week.

He said the groups had ex­hib­ited cour­tesy and re­spect to con­sti­tuted au­thor­ity by re­spond­ing to his sum­mons and ex­press­ing their com­mit­ment to peace.

He said: "We met with the lead­er­ship of the coali­tion of north­ern groups in my ca­pac­ity as the Chair­man of the North­ern Gov­er­nors Fo­rum. They have agreed to re­visit their de­ci­sion and we will fol­low it up to its log­i­cal con­clu­sion and I be­lieve that in the next cou­ple of days we are go­ing to get good news from them.

"I don't want to pre-empt them by say­ing that this is what will hap­pen or not, but def­i­nitely, they have shown re­spon­si­bil­ity and com­mit­ment to the na­tional cause and they have wider plans to pro­mote the cause of na­tional unity and co­he­sion."

Shet­tima who de­scribed the meet­ing with the youth groups as very fruit­ful told jour­nal­ists that the lead­ers of the coali­tion have shown a lot of cour­te­sies and re­spect for the es­tab­lish­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to the gov­er­nor, the youths had ear­lier met with the Sul­tan of Sokoto, His Em­i­nence Sa'ad Abubakar, as part of the con­sul­ta­tions to­wards re­solv­ing the mat­ter.

He said that the fo­rum be­lieved that it was bet­ter to di­a­logue with the youth groups rather than crim­i­nal­iz­ing them.

The gov­er­nor said that while the north­ern lead­ers had made ef­forts to put their youths in check, the lead­er­ship of the South-east should also re­cip­ro­cate their ac­tion by also call­ing the leader of the In­dige­nous Peo­ple of Bi­afra (IPOB), Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, to or­der.

"This is the first time that they are sit­ting down with the lead­er­ship of the fo­rum. There were hav­ing in­ter­ac­tions with His Em­i­nence, the Sul­tan of Sokoto. I started con­ver­sa­tions with them right from Kaduna yes­ter­day and we con­tin­ued the dis­cus­sion to­day and by the grace of God, it is go­ing to yield fruit. We are try­ing to have an un­der­stand­ing of the chal­lenges con­fronting us as a peo­ple and so­lu­tions to those chal­lenges,” he said.

Spokesman of the North­ern Youths Coali­tion, Mr. Ab­du­laziz Sulie­man said his group had ac­cepted to work for the unity of the coun­try, adding that they would meet this week to re­con­sider their dec­la­ra­tion.

He said: "At least what we can say is that there has been a ma­jor devel­op­ment. If we all re­mem­ber what we did with the North­ern gov­er­nors' fo­rum, we used to copy all our cor­re­spon­dences to them.

"Now the chair­man of the fo­rum has taken the ini­tia­tive and in­vited us yes­ter­day to start ne­go­ti­a­tions. This is the first time we are meet­ing pub­licly with any leader pub­licly and we be­lieve that it's is a ma­jor step for­ward in our on­go­ing con­sul­ta­tions.

"Like he said, we hold the gov­er­nor in high es­teem and we have the unity of the coun­try at heart.”

IPOB At­tacks Obiano in Church, In­sists on No elec­tion

In Anam­bra State, how­ever, mem­bers of the In­dige­nous Peo­ple of Bi­afra (IPOB), con­sist­ing of youths and women yes­ter­day at­tacked the Anam­bra State Gov­er­nor, Chief Wil­lie Obiano, at St Joseph Church, Ek­wu­lo­bia, Aguata Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Area of the state.

THISDAY gath­ered that the gov­er­nor had hardly set­tled down for the service, when youths and women adorned in Bi­afra in­signias, chant­ing Bi­afra songs be­sieged the gate of the church shout­ing, "No elec­tion in Anam­bra State; " we want a ref­er­en­dum ", "No ref­er­en­dum, no elec­tion."

Ad­vanc­ing in droves to­wards the gate of the church, the gov­er­nor's se­cu­rity men rushed and locked up the en­trance.

A source said: "As their (IPOB') con­fronta­tion with the po­lice con­tin­ued, the IPOB num­bers con­tin­ued to en­large. I think they were re­in­forc­ing from Onit­sha. As their num­ber con­tin­ued to in­crease, the gov­er­nor's se­cu­rity had to smug­gle him out of the church."

But a mem­ber of the gov­er­nor's press crew who pleaded anonymity said the gov­er­nor left after ad­dress­ing the church at the end of the service.

A source said: "The gov­er­nor was not smug­gled out of the church. The is­sue was that the se­cu­rity men had to stop the ag­i­ta­tors at the gate of the church when they started shout­ing ‘no elec­tion, no elec­tion.’

"The gov­er­nor even ad­dressed the is­sue while speak­ing to the con­gre­ga­tion. He as­sured that there would be an elec­tion in the state.

"He said no­body can stop the elec­tion in Anam­bra State; the gov­er­nor said most of the anti- elec­tion pro­test­ers are not from Anam­bra State."

When con­tacted on the tele­phone, the Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice, Anam­bra State Com­mand, Mr. Garba Umar, con­firmed the in­ci­dent.

The com­mis­sioner warned that the po­lice would no longer tol­er­ate such im­punity, say­ing the in­ten­tion of the pro­test­ers was to at­tack the gov­er­nor.

He said: "You, press peo­ple should re­port this. We will no longer tol­er­ate this im­punity from any­body. Why should they protest to the church? The church is a place of wor­ship; and not a place of protest. It is ob­vi­ous that they had crim­i­nal in­ten­tion to at­tack the gov­er­nor.”

About two weeks ago, a group of youths sus­pected to be mem­bers of IPOB had al­legedly dis­rupted a church func­tion at­tended by the gov­er­nor­ship can­di­date of the Pro­gres­sives Peo­ples Al­liance, Mr. God­win Ezeemo.

The in­ci­dent oc­curred at Odoekpe, Og­baru Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Area of the state.

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