By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna
Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State has warned citizens in the state against any act of intolerance, peddling of rumours and or reprisal attacks on Igbos living in parts of the state.
The Governor in a stern warning to citizens, cautioned miscreants and troublemakers against any attempt to breach the peace and tranquility in the state, saying expressions of ethnic sentiments, hate speeches and all acts resembling ethnocentrism would not be tolerated from quarters within the state.
The warning comes on the heels of Thursday’s violence in Jos, the Plateau state capital over rumours of attacks on northerner resident Umuahia in Abia state by members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
A statement from the Governor which was issued by his Chief Press Secretary and repeatedly aired on the state radio station, said the unfortunate security breaches in the South Eastern parts of the country fueled by actions of members of the IPOB should not be used by criminally minded elements in the state to ferment trouble.
The statement noted that hate speeches, violent agitations, rumour and the expressions of extreme sentiments and pettiness on social media, should not be basis for any attempt by anyone to launch reprisal attack on innocent citizens.The statement quoted Governor Bello as saying that the state has the overriding power to protect lives and property of all citizens of Nigeria residing in any part of the state. It said the government would, therefore not compromise in carrying out its constitutional responsibility irrespective of what or who stands on it’s way.The statement revealed that as a stop gap measure to forestall any breach of the peace, the state government had alerted all the security agencies and related apparatuses in the state to girdle up and immediately commence patrol, particularly within the areas identified as blackspots, to nip in the bud, any attempt to cause civil disorder and unrest in the state.
Governor Sani Bello said in the statement that the state government would not fold it’s arms and allow some overzealous individuals to jeopardize the existing peaceful coexistence amongst the diverse ethnic groups in the state or hold some hapless people to ransom by instilling fear, anxiety and tension amongst them for any parochial or selfish reasons.The statement added that Niger state is for all Nigerians. And it reads in parts; “Nigerlites are peace loving people and we are very accommodating to all Nigerians irrespective of one’s socio political and ethnic lining”.
The statement therefore warned that anybody caught trying to cause trouble would be regarded as a criminal trying to cause anarchy in order to loot and vandalize other people’s property”.The statement reminded all citizens of the centrality of the state in Nigeria’s history and described Niger state as a melting pot and home to people from various parts of the world.
It said some prominent Nigerians of Igbo ethnic extractions who are crucial reference points in Nigeria’s political history, were born and raised on the soil of Niger state and are therefore by right, indigenes of Niger state.
Nigeria’s first President, Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe, (the Owelle of Onitsha), Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu, (the Ikemba of Nnewi) as well as the literary genius, Cyprian Ekwensi and many others were born in Zungeru, Niger state the statement recalled.
The statement therefore called on all citizens particularly citizens of Igbo ethnic extractions not to panic over the upheavals in the South East even as it urged all and sundry to remain law abiding and go about their legitimate businesses.