Oct 1 Ultimatum: “I’ve Not Received Any Invitation From The Police” – Shettima Yerima
President of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Shettima Yerima, has said the Nigerian Police is yet to invite him for questioning.
Yerima, in an interview with The Punch newspaper on Thursday said that he would gladly honour any invitation by the police but “as of the time that I am talking to you right now (Thursday), the police have not called me for any interrogation.
Recall that a Coalition of Northern groups under the aegis of Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, AYCF, had on Tuesday issued a three-month ultimatum to all Igbos in the 19 northern states to relocate from the region. The groups, which issued the warning in response to the demand by some Igbos for actualisation of Biafra, threatened to forcefully evict the Igbos if they failed to leave the north by October 1.
But Yerima, in his reaction to public outcry against the demand maintained that the group is only helping the the Igbo to get the international attention they want so that they can leave Nigeria in peace. He stressed that they had never called for violence or make any attempt to incite anyone in the North or any other part of the country, to engage in violence against any tribe.
“It is not our intention or plan to push them out of the North by force – no, that’s not our intention. We won’t do that. We are only encouraging them to leave. If they have decided to be part of an independent Biafran state, why are they wasting time still living in other people’s land? They should go to their region if they want to go; we will help them to leave. They should leave”, Yerima said.
On the negative reaction from the public over the declaration, Yerima said that the group’s advocacy has always been non-violent saying “For those who have chosen to misrepresent us, all I will say is that at no time did we advocate for violent removal of the Igbo in the North. We are not violent people.”
He also reiterate that the group’s position is to help the Igbos get the referendum initiated, hoping that by the end of the three month’s (ultimatum), they would have chosen to form their own nation.
“We will continue to help them to the extent that their voice would be heard in the international community. We will help them to ensure that the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States, the United Nations and other international organisations come to their aid. There was a referendum in the United Kingdom; was there any bloodshed there?
“In essence, what we are saying is that if the easterners want a state of Biafra the Federal Government should give them what they want. Is that asking for too much? We insist that the Federal Government should organise a referendum for them to choose whether they want to remain a part of Nigeria or not; let them vote for or against.”
Yerima however maintained that should the Igbo get the referendum to leave Nigeria, it would not forcibly eject any Igbo living in the North even if majority of them voted to exit Nigeria.