The Federal Government has explained why it has not arrested the architects of the Coalition of Northern Youths’ quit notice issued to the Igbo living in the North.
The explanation came on the heels of calls by United Nations (UN) experts for the arrest of those behind the June 6 quit notice.
It also came on a day the Independent Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) lashed out at the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) over the pan-North group’s warnings to Ohanaeze Ndi’ Igbo, a pro-East organisation.
At a news conference in Abuja yesterday, Attorney-General of the Federation & Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN) said they did not go after sponsors of the quit notice due to the “security implications”, adding that the Federal Government was being strategic in handle the issue.
He said: “The way the government works is that a lot of considerations naturally come into play. One is investigation, which is not time-bound; two, security consideration; three, expeditious determination and consideration of public interest.
“But one thing that is certain is that the government is ever alive to its responsibilities and whoever is found wanting, regardless of the length of time, will definitely be brought to book.
“That is the way it works. I assure you that the government will, within the context of its responsibilities, work to ensure good governance, justice, peace and fairness in the nation.”
The Northern youths have withdrawn the quit notice on the Igbo to vacate the North on October 1.
Their spokesman, AbdulAziz Suleiman, said the withdrawal was as a result of consultations and pressure from various groups.
Also yesterday, the IPOB, through its spokesman, Emma Powerful, warned the Federal Government against re-arresting its leader, Nnamdi Kanu.
It said doing so will have dire consequences.
The IPOB spokesman was reacting to what it called an attack on the Ohanaeze. Some ACF elders had berated the Ohanaeze leaders for trivialising a criminal matter.
According to Powerful, Kanu has not committed any crime that could warrant his rearrest.
He said: “If Nigeria ever had a case against our leader, why have the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) not commenced the trial since October 2015 when our leader was first arrested?
“Instead, the Arewa North thought they could intimidate this present Ohaneze Ndigbo as they did to previous executives, into allowing Nnamdi Kanu to be arrested.
“The idea of wanting to use baseless trumped up charges to justify the extra-judicial detention of Kanu will be resisted by all men and women of good conscience.”
The UN human rights experts called for the prosecution of those behind the ultimatum issued to the Igbo.
The experts, Mutuma Ruteere, Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance; Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues and Anastasia Crickley, Chairperson of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, described the ultimatum as a “grave concern”.
They also deplored a hate song and audio message being circulated on the internet and on the social media targeting the Igbo.
The UN experts said: “We are gravely concerned about this proliferation of hate messages and incitement to violence against the Igbo and their property, especially considering the previous history of such violence.
“The government must be vigilant, as hate speech and incitement can endanger social cohesion and threaten peace by deepening the existing tensions between Nigeria’s ethnic communities.”
The human rights crusaders said that though some local and national figures, as well as some media representatives had publicly denounced any form of hate speech and incitement, other officials still needed to follow suit.
They added: “We are deeply concerned that some prominent local leaders and elders have not condemned the ultimatum, hate speech and the perpetrators.
“We call on the government, media and civil society representatives, and local and religious leaders, to reject and condemn hate speech and incitement to violence unequivocally and in the strongest possible terms.”
The UN experts said any incidents of hate speech and incitement to violence had to be investigated and the perpetrators prosecuted and punished.
“This includes the people behind the ultimatum and those responsible for the creation, publication and circulation of the hate song and audio message,” they added.