Godwin Isenyo and Raphael Ede
7 January 2022
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The pan-Northern socio-political organisation, Arewa Consultative Forum, on Thursday said that Indigenous People of Biafra’s banning the singing of the National Anthem and the transportation of livestock to the South-East was a declaration of war.
The National Publicity Secretary of the ACF, Emmanuel Yawe, stated this in an interview with one of our correspondents while commenting on the plan by Amalgamated Union of Foodstuff and Cattle Dealers of Nigeria to ban movement of foodstuffs from the North to the South-East.
But the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, appealed to the northern traders to shelve the plan.
There were reports on Monday that the secessionist group, IPOB had banned the slaughtering of Fulani cows and the recitation of the Nigerian national anthem in Biafraland -South-East.
According to the reports, IPOB, in the New Year message by its Director of State, Chika Edoziem, said only the Biafran anthem should be taught in schools.
The group also said only “native cows” would be permitted for consumption in Biafraland.
On Wednesday, the Amalgamated Union of Foodstuff and Cattle Dealers of Nigeria expressed its readiness to stop the transportation of livestock and foodstuffs to the South-East.
The Chairman of Northern Traders, Muhammad Tahir, said members of the association would stop sales of cattle, grains, onions and other foodstuffs in the Southeast.
In a statement he signed, Tahir said, “For us, we would always support the indivisibility of Nigeria; but if IPOB wants to secede, then so be it.
“Bilateral trade between us and them is all about wealth creation for the two regions; the cattle we take to them is food and not poison.”
But on Thursday, the ACF said the order by the IPOB was unnecessary as Nigeria was not at war, urging well-meaning Nigerians to call the Biafra agitators to order.
Yawe also said in an interview with The PUNCH in Kaduna that it would be difficult for the forum to appeal to the Union this time around.
The ACF noted that the fear and concerns of the Amalgamated Union of Foodstuff & Cattle Dealers of Nigeria were justified following the threat by the IPOB
The ACF’s spokesman said, “We have appealed to this union in the past when their members were attacked and some killed and their property destroyed due to no fault of theirs.
“At that time, they mounted a blockade and stopped the supply of foodstuffs to the East. Prices skyrocketed and there was an outcry. Due to appeals by the ACF, they lifted the blockade.
“The recent actions by IPOB amount to a declaration of war. It is difficult for the ACF to appeal to the union to resume supplies to the East with the pronouncements of the IPOB.
“The concerns of the union and their fears are justified. Somebody should call IPOB to order. We are still one country and not at war. Their pronouncements amount to an open declaration of war.”
But Ohanaeze Ndigbo regretted that Amalgamated Union of Foodstuff and Cattle Dealers of Nigeria would issue a threat to stop transportation of livestock and foodstuffs to the South-East without getting its (Ohanaeze) position on IPOB’s directive.
Ohanaeze spokesman Chief Alex Ogbonnia, in an interview with The PUNCH, said, “The Igbo are the most out-reaching and adventurous ethnic group in Nigeria. We are welcome in every state in Nigeria by all the ethnic groups and to that extent, we welcome other ethnic groups in Igboland. It is exchange of values; mutual reciprocity. The issue of banning goods for which an ethnic group is known is not acceptable. For example, we have goods for which the Igbo are known and are marketed in other zones in Nigeria, the same way we welcome goods for which other ethnic groups are known and marketed in Igboland.
“So, Ohanaeze Ndigbo philosophy is peace onto all. Is only when we identify any source of conflict we try to manage it but for Ohanaeze Ndigbo, in fact, Igbo in general we welcome goods anybody will sell in Igboland.
“Importantly, the people who are acting on what IPOB said, they should know that we have many aspirations in Igboland, but Ohanaeze Ndigbo is the umbrella associations of all the Igbo groups. So efforts should be made to listen to Ohanaeze Ndigbo before some final decisions will be taken on issues affecting entire Igbo.”
CNG bans Igbo goods in North
On its part, the Coalition of Northern Groups called for a total boycott of all businesses operated by the Igbo all over the North.
The CNG’s Spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, noted that IPOB’s order issued in a statement on Monday amounted to a grave provocation and serious threat to northern commercial interests in the South-East and by extension to the physical well-being of northerners living as minorities among Igbo communities.
The CNG called for the total boycott of all businesses, goods and services operated by Igbo in the North effective from the same April 2022.
The CNG also called on northerners everywhere to decline support for any political party or formation or movement that had the active participation of South-East politicians.
Suleiman said, “For the avoidance of doubt, the North while maintaining its tradition of tolerance and accommodation, shall however no longer be disposed to condoning further acts of irresponsibility in the form of deliberate threats of intimidation or harassment targeted at Northerners living and doing legitimate businesses elsewhere in the country.
“Since such targeted utterances have in the past being preludes to physical attacks on northerners and destruction of their properties in particularly the South -East, we urge northern transporters and suppliers of goods to consider alternative trade routes to avoid the imminent risks that come with this IPOB threat.
“We warm that the North has had enough of the antagonism from the South- East and its attack dog, the IPOB and will no longer remain passive under such deliberate and sustained attacks and will henceforth be forced to react to every provocation and unwarranted abuse and violations.
“All those who have no other useful vocation other than attacking northerners under the slightest of pretexts, should know that our patience has reached its nadir.
“The North’s reticence in speaking out or taking action is not born of fear or ignorance of how to respond in kind.”