Buhari ‘won’t al­low di­vi­sion’

Daily News - - WORLD -

ABUJA: Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari is to visit south­east Nige­ria this week, his first trip since tak­ing of­fice to a re­gion for­merly known as Bi­afra.

Calls for se­ces­sion have be­come in­creas­ingly loud in the past few months in parts of the south-east, where the pres­i­dent is deeply un­pop­u­lar, prompt­ing Buhari to say he will not al­low Nige­ria to be di­vided by sep­a­ratist groups.

A mil­lion peo­ple died in a 1967-70 civil war over the short-lived Repub­lic of Bi­afra. Buhari, who took of­fice in 2015, fought in the war as a young soldier on the gov­ern­ment side.

His spokesman, Garba Shehu, yes­ter­day said the pres­i­dent would visit the cam­paign run by his All Progressive Congress party in Anam­bra state, be­fore gu­ber­na­to­rial elec­tions in the next few days.

“Mr Pres­i­dent will be vis­it­ing two south-east states of Ebonyi and Anam­bra,” said Shehu. He said Buhari would re­turn to­mor­row.

Ten­sions in the re­gion rose af­ter the re­lease on bail of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the re­gion’s best-known se­ces­sion­ist group, the In­dige­nous Peo­ple of Bi­afra (IPOB). The gov­ern­ment des­ig­nated the group as a ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tion in Septem­ber, and de­ployed troops to the re­gion.

Kanu, who was on bail af­ter be­ing charged with trea­son, has not been seen since Septem­ber 14, when IPOB says his home was raided by sol­diers. The mil­i­tary has de­nied raid­ing Kanu’s home and has said it is not hold­ing him.

“We are yet to know our leader’s where­abouts or that of his par­ents. Buhari is not the type of per­son any gov­er­nor should be wel­com­ing to their land,” said an IPOB spokesman in a state­ment that urged the pres­i­dent to “stay away”.

The gov­ern­ment has re­peat­edly re­jected the ac­cu­sa­tion that Buhari, a Mus­lim north­erner, is op­posed to the de­vel­op­ment of the mostly Chris­tian south-east. – Reuters

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