By Ismaila Chafe
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has warned that Biafra agitators and the northern youth groups that issued quit notice to Igbo risked jail terms as they violated Nigeria’s laws.
Osinbajo gave the warning at a consultative meeting with traditional rulers from the South-East at the Presidential Banquet Hall, Abuja, on Sunday.
He said that the manner of the agitations, method and objective were wrong, unlawful and clearly violated the nation’s Constitution.
“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, 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.
“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.’’
The acting president recalled that many Nigerians had paid the supreme price to keep the country united, saying that “it will be wrong for men and women of goodwill in this generation to toy with those sacrifices that had been made’’.
He, therefore, maintained that men of goodwill must not tolerate any tendency that would drag the nation in the direction of yet another civil conflict.
He, however, said that the government and people “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 marginalization; some have argued that safety in the different zones has 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,’’ he added.
Osinbajo reiterated Federal Government’s commitment to listening to “all the reasons, the various suggestions and the various agitations and the reasons for those agitations and to ensure that we do justice to all persons regardless of where you are from in this country.
“That is the commitment of Federal Government which I am able to make to you today.
“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.’’
He added that the greatness of any people lay in their ability to work together in spite of their differences and the types of offence that had been caused between each other.
The acting president expressed the hope that royal fathers would continue to offer useful suggestions and the right advice to ensure that the country remained united.
Osinbajo will meet with the traditional rulers from the northern part of the country on Monday.