Buhari ‘won’t allow division’
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