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Nigeria's Buhari cautions separatists

Muhammadu Buhari

Separatists calling for the breakup of Nigeria have crossed a red line and the country’s unity is not negotiable, President Muhammadu Buhari said on Monday (August 21) in his first speech since returning home after three months of medical leave in Britain.

Ethnic tensions have surfaced in the last few months amid calls for a separate southeastern state, known as Biafra, while some in the restive southern Niger Delta oil hub have called for independence and Boko Haram militants seek an Islamic state in the northeast.

In a televised speech, broadcast two days after his return on Saturday (August 19), Buhari said he followed events in Nigeria on a daily basis during his absence and was concerned by discussions over the possible dissolution of the country.

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation with 180 million people, split roughly equally between Christians and Muslims and about 250 different ethnic groups who mostly live peacefully side-by-side.