The Nigerian government has swiftly responded to brewing ethnic tensions between the country’s north and east insisting that no one was less a citizen than the other.
The government posted a video on Twitter with the Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo addressing citizens on the need to play their respective roles in keeping the country united and peaceful.
A youth group in the north-central state of Kaduna on Tuesday addressed a press conference asking all Igbos (people from the east) to quit the north within three months.
What is not normal or acceptable is employing these frustrations as justifications for indulging in discrimination or hate speech or hateful conduct of any kind, or for seeking to undermine by violent or other illegal means.
“All Igbos currently residing in any part of northern Nigeria are hereby served notice to relocate within three months and all northerners residing in the East are advised likewise,” a spokesman for a movement called the Northern Youth Groups is quoted to have said.
But in response to the call, Osinbajo said: “Nigeria belongs to all of us. No person or group is more important or more entitled than the other in this space that we all call home.
‘‘And we have a responsibility to live in peace and harmony with one another, to seek peace and constitutional means of expressing our wishes and desires and to resist all who might sek to sow confusion and hatred for their own selfish interest,” he stressed.
Whiles admitting that in pursuit of bettering the country’s fortunes grievances and frustrations were inevitable, he said they were not enough grounds for any person or group of persons to turn against others.
‘‘What is not normal or acceptable is employing these frustrations as justifications for indulging in discrimination or hate speech or hateful conduct of any kind, or for seeking to undermine by violent or other illegal means, the very existence of the sovereign entity that has brought us together as brothers and sisters or citizens,’‘ he added.
Kaduna Governor Nasir El-Rufai on Tuesday ordered the arrest of the signatories to the Northern Youth Group statement, condemning their “inciting” and “hate speech.”
The Kaduna government “assures every resident of our state that their constitutional and human rights to live peacefully and own property wherever they choose is sacrosanct,” a spokesman for El-Rufai said in a statement.
Nigeria has in recent years seen a rise in other ethno-religious conflicts, particularly deadly clashes between Muslim herders and Christian farmers, partly over land use, in the region known as the Middle Belt.
The Kaduna State Government has ordered the arrest of person who threatened Igbos.— Governor Kaduna (@GovKaduna) June 7, 2017
Read full statement by the Kaduna State Govt here: pic.twitter.com/s7R6kLkTOG