THE Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has said it stands by its old call on the Igbo of the South East to be allowed to leave Nigeria if that is what they want.
The NEF also told Ohanaeze Ndigbo to channel its energy towards contributing to the security of their region from the rising threats of insecurity.
The Convener of the NEF, Professor Ango Abdullahi, said these while reacting to a comment credited to the spokesperson of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr Alex Ogbonnia, in which he referred to the spokesperson of NEF, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, as a security threat.
Baba-Ahmed had, in an old press conference video clip re-circulated on the social media by a presidential aide during the week, said: “We said if secession is what every Igbo wants, and this is what the Igbos want, the nation should not fight a war over it.”
He added that they should be allowed to exit Nigeria.
On Wednesday, Ohanaeze’s spokesperson, Dr Ogbonnia, responded strongly to the statement describing it as “extremely nauseating, uncouth, provocative, incendiary, inflammatory and above all, very arrogant and licentious.”
The Ohanaeze spokesperson said: “We reiterate that the broadcast by BabaAhmed is a threat to peace and unity of the country and the security agencies should act on time to serve as a deterrent to some others harbouring such minds against the unity and corporate existence of Nigeria.
However, NEF convener, Professor Abdullahi said that the statement read by Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed was authorised by the Forum and represented its position.
“My attention has been drawn to comments by spokesman of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr Alex Ogbonnia, on the Director of Publicity and Advocacy of Northern Elders Forum, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed.
“These comments are, to say the least, dangerous and irresponsible, designed to achieve only one goal: to put the life of Dr Baba-Ahmed in peril.
“The Northern Elders Forum states categorically that all comments and statements made by Dr BabaAhmed are authorised, and they represent its positions.
“The press statement which he read on the 8th of June, 2021 at the forum’s headquarters in Abuja in the presence of the full forum was the statement of the forum by which it still stands.
“We are aware of attempts to create the impression that this statement is recent, as well as other attempts to misrepresent its contents to create scapegoats for the failure to limit the damage of irredentism.
“In spite of many efforts to inform the public appropriately, it appears that Ohaneze Ndigbo has fallen prey to more mischief, or is itself actively involved in incitement against a citizen,” Professor Abdullahi said.
He said the forum stood by its Director of Publicity and Advocacy, whom he described as “a Nigerian whose pedigree and service to the country has few parallels.”
He said the forum: “sees the claim that Dr Baba Ahmed is a security risk, and the demand that he should be arrested as pathetic and beneath even the ordinary standards of Ohanaeze Ndigbo. We serve notice that we know who to hold responsible in the event of any harm to Dr Baba-Ahmed.”
The NEF Convener therefore told Ohanaeze Ndigbo to “focus its attention on contributing to securing people of the South East from multiple threats, and ensuring that Ndigbo has a befitting relevance in Nigeria.
“The Forum affirms its full confidence in Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, who will continue to serve the country and the North as we search for a future that accommodates all interests in Nigeria”.