Nige­rian leader seeks to quell ten­sion amid eth­nic barbs

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

ABUJA: Nige­ria’s act­ing pres­i­dent met with re­gional lead­ers in an ef­fort to quell eth­nic ten­sions, as threats grow of con­flict be­tween north­ern Mus­lims and south-eastern Igbo peo­ple.

The two groups have been trad­ing barbs since the be­gin­ning of the month, af­ter Mus­lim ac­tivists de­manded the eviction of Igbo from the north over their calls for a sep­a­rate south-eastern state, known as Bi­afra. The ex­pul­sion no­tice is an echo of the anti-Igbo pogroms across the north that helped spark the se­ces­sion of Bi­afra in 1967. The re­sult­ing civil war ended with Nige­ria’s vic­tory in 1970, af­ter an es­ti­mated 1 mil­lion peo­ple died.

“There is a point where a line has to be drawn, and that is when con­ver­sa­tions or ag­i­ta­tions de­gen­er­ate into hate­ful rhetoric, where the nar­ra­tive de­scends into pe­jo­ra­tive name-call­ing, ex­pres­sions of out­right prej­u­dice and ha­tred,” said Yemi Os­in­bajo, Nige­ria’s act­ing leader.

Os­in­bajo met with lead­ers from the north and south-east, state gov­er­nors and media pub­lish­ers and edi­tors.

“It will be wrong of us to ap­proach our griev­ances by threat­en­ing to dis­obey the laws or by threat­en­ing the in­tegrity of our nation,” Os­in­bajo told lead­ers.

Nige­ria is no stranger to eth­ni­cally charged vi­o­lence. Deadly clashes be­tween Mus­lim herders and Chris­tian farm­ers have erupted in re­cent years, partly over land use in the re­gion known as the Mid­dle Belt. In the eastern state of Taraba, part of the Mid­dle Belt, 10 peo­ple have died since last week in eth­nic clashes, a po­lice spokesper­son said. – Reuters

Act­ing leader Yemi Os­in­bajo.

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