Governors of the 19 northern states under the aegis of Northern States Governors’ Forum (NSGF), yesterday condemned Wednesday’s violence in Onitsha, Anambra State as a result of activities of members of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) and Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), calling for calm as well as preventive measures against any reprisals in the North.
Chairman of the forum and Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, said in a statement through his spokesman, Malam Isa Gusau in Maiduguri, the state capital on Thursday that the forum had taken some firm but undisclosed measures to check any spill-over of the Onitsha violence in any of the northern states.
Following the clash between the pro-Biafra agitators and security forces, the protesters reportedly razed down a Mosque and torched some vehicles belonging to the Dangote Group in Onitsha on Wednesday.
In response to the violent turn of the protests, the northern governors appealed for calm, saying all Nigerians must realize that the evil being perpetuated by the Boko Haram insurgents against Nigerians was more than enough trouble for the country, hence the need to unite against terrorism, rather than begin a fresh round of crisis.
“We condemn the Wednesday crisis in very strong terms. We have been in touch with one another. The governors of major cities in the North in particular have been in critical touch to share thoughts and we have collectively taken firm measures to ensure that the violence doesn’t spread to any part of the 19 northern states and we will also be working with our colleagues in the South to nip the crisis in the bud.
“It is surprising to the Northern States Governors Forum that any Nigerian at all can even contemplate any kind of violence when we already have serious problems of Boko Haram insurgents that are killing Muslims and Christians, killing northerners and southerners, attacking mosques, churches and markets in an effort to kill all of us that do not subscribe to their interpretation of Islam. We have Boko Haram that kill Hausa, Fulani, Ibo, Yoruba, Kanuri, Ijaw and anyone they are able to come across. We thought that the existence of Boko Haram should have been enough to make all Nigerians fuse into one and fight a common enemy.
“We are not blaming any individual or group because there are security agencies whose job it is to safeguard lives and property and do investigations where necessary, we will not go into their duties. We implore all Nigerians to be calm and go about their duties in peace. We have got more than enough problems to worry about. We can’t afford any distraction that will shift our focus from the bigger problem of Boko Haram that has an ambition of sending the human race into extinction. We urge all Nigerians to be calm.
“We particularly call on all Nigerians living in the northern states not to pay attention to differences in religion and ethnicity but rather, see one another as Nigerians with equal residential rights and fundamental human rights that include freedom to lawfully reside anywhere in Nigeria.
“We particularly also call on our youths not to allow anyone use them for any purpose because youths have suffered more than any other age category in the hands of Boko Haram insurgents and that is more than enough.
“Our focus should be on how to end the Boko Haram insurgency and not to be driven into any other crisis. We have suffered too much, we must say no to any crisis. As heads of governments of the 19 northern states, we will by the grace of God, do everything humanly possible to ensure that no resident, regardless of his or her ethno-religious background, is denied any of these rights. As Nigerians, we are one, we need one another and we must live as one people”, the governors said.