The agitations for the creation of Biafra and the Arewa Youths’ ultimatum for the Igbo to leave the North are against the Constitution, the Acting President said at a meeting with traditional rulers from the Southeast.
Eze Udo I of Ngboko Ngwa Amaise in Abia State and Southeast Traditional Rulers Chairman Eze Eberechi Dick led their colleagues to the meeting.
Last week, Osinbajo met with some political and religious leaders from the region and the North in his efforts to check the brewing discontent in those parts of the country.
The meetings will be rounded off today with traditional rulers from the North.
Osinbajo said the manner, method and objectives of the agitations were wrong, adding that they should be dealt with in accordance with the Constitution.
He said where there were grievances to be addressed, the only way to make things right is by doing it right, instead of threatening to break the law or the country.
The Acting President said: “As you are aware there has been agitation from some of our youths in the Southeast urging secession, the creation of Biafra. In apparent response young people in the north states, under the aegis of Arewa youths have purportedly issued an ultimatum where they have set a date for the eviction of persons from the Southeast who live in the northern states.
“Those agitations, the manner of those agitations, the method and objective are wrong, unlawful and the violation of the laws of Nigeria and the constitution of Nigeria. I want to repeat that both the agitations for secession and the ultimatum to leave the northern states are wrong and a violation of our constitution.
“Our constitution says in Section 2 that Nigeria is one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign state to be known by the name the Federal Republic of Nigeria. That is the law of our country. Let us not be in any doubt about the fact that the federal government is committed to ensuring that our country remains united. And that anyone who violates the law in the manner such as we are seeing all over the place will be met with the full force of the law.
“And the reason why it is so is because for Nigeria’s unity enough blood has been spilled and many hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost. Many have paid for the unity of this country with their lives and it will be wrong of us as men and women of goodwill in this generation to toy with those sacrifices that have been made. This is why men of goodwill in our generation must not tolerate any tendency that drags us in the direction of yet another civil conflict.
“But we must be sensitive to the reasons why there are agitations by the various young men across the various zones of this country. Many have to do with perceived marginalisation, some have argued safety in the different zones have been compromised. But I want to say the only way to make things right is to do things right. And it will be wrong of us to approach even our grievances by threatening to disobey the laws or by threatening the integrity of our nation.”
The Federal Government, the Acting President said, was committed to listening to all the reasons, the various suggestions and the agitations in order to ensure that justice is done to all.
He said: “I recall that President Muhammadu Buhari said that as a person who served in the Nigeria Army committed his life to the service of this country and that he did so not alone but with others from the north, south, west and east of Nigeria. And that he fought side by side from the Congo to some many related places where he has served the country, protecting each other’s lives and ensuring that all of them were safe.
“That in the Nigerian Army there were men and women from all parts of Nigeria and that is the reason according to him why he is so committed in ensuring that Nigeria remains one united country
“Our greatness lies in our being together and I believe very strongly that as our royal fathers you will ensure the message is clear to all, that the greatness of any people lies in their ability to work together despite our differences, despite the types of offence that have been caused between each other, the greatness of any community lies in our unity.
“We trust that you our royal fathers will give us he right directional advice to ensure that our country remains together.”
On the traditional rulers’ roles on the matter, the Acting President said: “In planning these meetings I was conscious that we should have a separate set of meetings with our traditional rulers because of the peculiar and the unique positions that they hold especially in their relationship with those that live in their kingdoms.
“I want to emphasise that it is the unique position that traditional rulers occupy that is behind separate consultations and we want to take much advantage of it as much as possible.
“Most of us are aware especially for those who have been following the consultations, we have worked very hard to ensure that the representations across the two zones that we are interested in consulting with initially is as wide as possible and we have tried to inculcate that even in our traditional rulers today.”
At the meeting were Speaker Yakubu Dogara, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, Deputy Senate Leader Bala Ibn Na-Allah, Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Abayomi Olonoshakin, Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Idris, National Security Adviser Babangana Mongonu, Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, and other top government officials.