Following the three-month Arewa youths ultimatum, tension is brewing among Igbos resident in the north, as some have reportedly begun relocating from the north.
Earlier in the week, the Coalition of Northern Youths issued a declaration directing all Igbos resident in the north to vacate the region, alleging that the Igbos had become a threat to Nigeria.
At popular transport company parks in Kaduna and Kano States, Igbo passengers bound for the south-east conspicuously filled the parks, Daily post reports.
Some of the fleeing travellers claimed they did not trust the government to protect their families and did not want to put their lives at risk.
In Kaduna, The Guardian reports that panic has gripped both the Igbo community and the Northern communities, although the Igbo leaders have urged the people to be calm and restrain from fleeing from the region while assuring that the governments and elders in the North are already on top of the situation.
For now, many Igbos resident in Kaduna are still undecided on whether to start moving their families back to the East or not. According to the leader of the Igbo community in Kano, the Eze Ndigbo, Chief Boniface Ibekwe, Ndigbo in the state have been urged to remain calm and go about their lawful businesses without fear of molestation, adding that Igbos are committed to the unity and stability of Nigeria.
Ibekwe who is also the Eze Diorama IV and President General of all the Ezes in the Diaspora, maintained that over three million Igbo people resident in Kano are peace-loving and would not do anything to jeopardise the unity of the country.
“We believe and based on my understanding as a major stakeholder in the north, that the northern leaders are never in support of the threat, so they should ignore it and go about their day-to-day businesses and activities.
“If they want to issue such a threat, it must be with numerous consultations, which I am aware was not. So, as far as we are concerned, we know and have faith in the ability of Nigerians to solve their problems. Whatever their grievances are, the appropriate authorities would look into it, so they should not take the law into their hands.
“I want to advise the Ndigbo in Kano to simply ignore the threat and go about their normal businesses.
“Already, the threat has heightened tension in some areas of Kano, particularly in the Sabon Gari area of the city predominantly occupied by the non-indigenous community and some are already being inundated with phone calls from their respective hometowns to relocate to avoid being trapped in the impending crisis.
“A lady received a call from her husband, who is based in the Southeast, requesting her to ensure that she wraps up her business within three months and rush back home,” Ibekwe stated.
The Monarch promised that Ndigbo in Kano would soon summon a meeting of stakeholders and northern elders to channel their grievance to appropriate quarters.
Also, while urging residents to stop panicking and resist the temptation of moving their families back to the South East, the President-General of the Igbo Community Welfare Association, Kaduna, Chris Nnoli said:
“We have told everybody not to panic. We have told everybody to remain calm.
“The assurances we have received from the Government of Kaduna State, and the leadership of Northern Nigeria and even the IG has told us to remain calm. And the elders of the north have also told us their stand and we believe them. So we have told our people to remain calm and not to panic in any form, as to rushing back home.”
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In the meantime, the Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU) has condemned the Northern youths ultimatum and their petition to the Federal Government and the International community to facilitate the referendum for the creation of a Biafran State.