Following the unusual mass movement of able-bodied youths from the North to the Southern part of the country, the Igbo World Assembly (IWA) has warned governors of 17 states in the South to halt these individuals’ invasion and plans to overrun their states, urging them to activate their traditional and communal self-defense system.
The group, which is an Umbrella organisation representing the Apex National Igbo Organisations in the diaspora, raised this concern in a communiqué it issued weekend after its Skype meeting held recently.
At the meeting, it made case for dialogue on a restructured Nigeria, dissolution of power for fairness, equity, and justice for all Nigerians while warning governors of the 17 states in the south of an imminent invasion and plans to overrun their states by what they described as Fulani terrorists.
In the words of IWA Chairman, Dr. Nwachukwu Anakwenze, he urged the 17 states to take immediate steps to secure their citizens and territories.
“We are requesting all communities in the Southeast and South-South geo-political zones to activate their defense mechanism in order to prevent the invasion of their territories by these suspected terrorists and jihadists in order to prevent massive genocide,” he advised.
According to him, the need for self-defense has become necessary because of the inability of the law enforcement agencies to defend the people from these able-bodied youths, who have been “Terrorising many communities in Nigeria and in Igbo lands”.
In Anakwenze’s view, these youths from Northern Nigeria are being smuggled into the South-East, South-South and Southwest and some parts of the middle belt in droves.
“This is in spite of the nationwide lockdown, the ban on interstate travel and the 1000 kilometers distance between many parts of the north and the south on roads which are manned by Nigerian security agencies,” he highlighted.
Noting further, the chairman said the volume, age, frequency and timing of people arriving, the age of the people arriving, despite the ban on interstate travel, described the sudden development as a coordinated effort masterminded by an unknown group.
He added: “Given the lockdown due to the pandemic and the (NCDC) nationwide-imposed regulations, why are these young men presumably from the north crossing into the South East, South-South, and South West borders unchecked and in violation of the regulations and oblivious to the consequences of the impacts of their possible spread of COVID-19 to the respective zones?
“If these young men, presumably from Northern Nigeria are truly Nigerians and economic migrants, there are time and place such incursion, given the NCDC regulations and fear of the spread of Covid-19 to the South-East and South-South zones”, Anakwenze noted.
Stating categorically that the Igbo race would no longer fold its arms and allow its zones to be overrun by others, IWA linked the abduction and attacks of the various parts of southern and middle belt of Nigeria to the suspected Fulani and citizens of other neighbouring countries with plans to Islamise and “Fulanise” the nation and West Africa.
Anakwenze, therefore, advised all the villages and communities to activate their traditional and communal self-defense system in the face of “These existential threats”.
Considering the sudden development, the chairman described the mass migration as ominous. “We want our governors, traditional rulers, town/village president generals to wake up to this dangerous situation”.
Warning on the dangers of the ongoing genocide in the different parts of the Southeast and South-South geo-political zones, Anakwenze noted that the influx of these people especially in recent weeks has become worrisome and should not be treated with levity.
While the group acknowledges that people from northern had free access to the south without anyone raising eyebrows, Anakwnze said that things had changed with the sustained terrorism and banditry going on in the north and the recent threat by the Boko Haram insurgency to launch attacks in the South.
Noting that the Fulani herdsmen and Hausa traders have been part and parcel of many states in the South as they conducted their trade in cattle and agricultural products, Anakwenze said the mass migration is different because it involves mostly young men who have no identifiable businesses to transact or wares to sell but are moving in a suspicious manner.
He expressed: “They want to make Nigeria the home of all Fulani’s from everywhere in Africa. It is so evident that is what they want to do, therefore our people must not be caught unawares.”
Citing the 1999 Nigerian Constitution that every citizen has the right to live and do business in any part of the country, IWA contended that such a constitutional provision must not be upheld to a level where a group of citizens could claim right to move into any part of Nigeria for ulterior motives.
The organisation, in clear terms, maintained that the right to free movement and liberty to settle in any part of Nigeria must be predicated on good conscience and desire to engage in a legitimate business.
“The current situation is very worrisome because even if there is no lockdown, freedom of movement to any part of the country does not mean freedom to undermine people’s security. It should be noted that Ndiigbo who live in the north are mostly law-abiding citizens contributing to the economic development of the region.
“It does not appear that the current movement of these Fulani youths is by the invitation of anybody. There are no new factories opening anywhere in the south where they are going to be employed, rather they are being shipped with an agenda to destabilise the region,” he alleged.
Following its displeasure on the issue, IWA urged political leaders, president-generals of the various towns and traditional rulers of Southern extraction to shun political and ethnic differences among them in order to work together to secure their people and their land from all forms of aggression.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria must be mindful that its inability to explain the rationale for this sudden influx of these young men from presumably Northern Nigeria has led to the perception that something is remise and that these youths are presumably from the north are sponsored by unknown group with specific agenda to infiltrate South-East and South-South”.
The organisation listed its demands including: appropriate measures to ease the concerns. “If they are not instituted, then the Southeast, South-South communities will be left with no other option than to defend themselves in the event of nefarious activities that might result from these questionable incursions”, Anakwneze warned.