Police Rescind Decision to Arrest Separatist Group Leaders

  • Catholic bishops urge FG to quell agitations

By Paul Obi in Abuja

The police yesterday said it had rescinded its earlier decision to arrest all separatist group leaders agitating for self rule and issuing ultimatums to citizens from a section of country to leave their territories.

The police had last week said it would arrest leaders of Arewa Youth Council who had threatened all Igbos living in the North to leave the region latest October 1, 2017.

The Inspector General of Police (IG) Ibrahim Idris, had during an elaborate meeting with Commissioners of Police, Assistant Inspectors General of Police (AIGs) and Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIGs), issued an order to the CPs “to ensure the directive issued by”  Governor Nasir el-Rufai, for the arrest of the Arewa youths is “carried out as far as there is an impediment of the law of this country,” adding that, “it is a directive and authority on them to ensure that where these groups are seen, obviously we have the security to arrest them and that is what I am telling them.”

But less than a week to the order, the spokesperson of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Prof. Ango Abdullahi, while backing Arewa youths on their ultimatum to the Igbos, called on the Igbos to ‘quit’ as well.

Also, a coalition of Niger Delta militants at the weekend in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, asked all northerners to leave the South-south by October 1, 2017.

The threats and counter-threats have raised tension across the nation, amid calls by eminent Nigerian on the federal government to intervene, while some are calling for a restructured country that will give room to true fiscal federalism.

But speaking with THISDAY, a top official of the police said on condition of anonymity that the Force would no longer go ahead to arrest leaders of the separatist groups threatening their perceived rival ethnic groups.

According to the source, “the police should be kept off this matter, it is becoming too untidy; the whole thing is now untidy. It is better you keep us out. Let the government respond.

“You know everybody is now talking from all the sides; the Niger Delta, Arewa and Afenifere, it’s not good for us to mix up,” the source stated.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) yesterday urged the federal government and the presidency to be emphatic in quelling the separatist agitations.

CBCN President and Catholic Archbishop of Jos, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, informed THISDAY that “government should be emphatic in stopping the agitations. These are undemocratic and unpatriotic declarations.

“Anyone calling for the repatriation of citizens of this country should be considered an enemy of Nigeria,” Kaigama stated.

He warned that Nigeria cannot cope with such type of agitations, stressing that, what the youths should rather do is to foster unity and peaceful co-existence.