FEATURE ARTICLE

Sunday, May 24, 2020
okerekeoc@gmail.com

AN OPEN SUBMISSION TO THE PRESIDENT, GOVERNORS, AND MEMBERS OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY ON THE INFLUX OF NORTHERN YOUTHS TO THE SOUTH

n the past three months or more, youths from Northern Nigeria have been moving down in lorries, buses, and trailers to the South. Some of them have been stopped and turned back, some others have continued.

A lot of these interstate travels have been taking place during this period of national emergency on the global Coronavirus pandemic when intercity travels, within a state, are prohibited. Yet, the interstate travels, crossing many cities and states in the North and moving to the South, have continued in spite of the lockdown.

Nigeria is a country where killings and kidnappings have taken place in the past three years at an unprecedent scale in peace time. Hundreds of Nigerians have been killed in Kaduna State, Benue State, and other states in the Middle Belt of Nigeria.

Many Christians, including priests, pastors and other clergymen have been killed in various states. Islamisation of the country is said to be the plan. It is speculated that these youths are being moved down, and will be armed to start killing the Southerners, especially the Christians.

Can this be true? We pray it is not, but the mass killings in the Middle Belt and the rampant killings of Christians and their clergy everywhere make it a piece of foolery to discountenance the story completely. Moreover, the killings have continued.

Who are these youths?

Where are their destinations?

Normally, a Nigerian and any other person, who is legitimately living in a country, is free to move from one town or city to another in the country. In that case, they have definite addresses of where they are going to. However, when the movements are in truckloads, their destinations and missions need to be questioned.

It is helpful at this point to quote some current relevant news items from some national papers.

  • "…Swamping of the South and the Middle Belt by able-bodied men coming from the North and some reportedly from Niger Republic.

  • In the last couple of weeks, there has been a well-coordinated mass movement of persons who bear little resemblance to the well-known Almajirai, able-bodied men; some who are the well-known herdsmen, flocking the South and Middle Belt of the country despite lockdown regimes in most of the states.

  • For example, a truck full of herdsmen from Zamfara and Kano State, one of the epicentres of coronavirus in northern Nigeria, was stopped at the Ojodu-Berger in Lagos.

  • In Akure, Ondo State, 20 Almajirai from Sokoto and Kano states who sneaked into the states in a truck belonging to Dangote cement were arrested and sent packing.

  • In Edo State, a truck and tanker loaded with able-bodied men at variance with the well-known Almajirai were intercepted at Jetu junction in Auchi.

  • In the Eastern state of Enugu, the government intercepted and turned back nine busloads of Almajirai attempting to move into the state through the Enugu-Benue boundaries at Udenu, Igbo-Eze North and Nsukka Local Government Area.

  • Also, trailer and some buses loaded with the same neglected people were intercepted by community leaders at Opi in Nsukka.

  • Similarly, Abia State intercepted some buses bringing in about 100 of them into the state.

  • In Cross River, the state government reportedly turned back five truckloads of the beggars and other passengers from the North.

  • The Benue State's COVID-19 Action Committee intercepted 14 of the social wastrels allegedly being smuggled into the state".

All these news items were taken from the Guardian of Wednesday, May 20, 2020, the title of the story was:

"Northern governors' provocative relocation of Almajirai to southern Nigeria."

The paper continues with the following comments:

"Viewed against the background of attempt by Boko Haram insurgents to infiltrate the South and Middle Belt of the country, the ongoing atrocities of herdsmen in the South and Middle Belt that have seen carnage of indescribable proportion, the current trend becomes really worrisome.

"To be sure, the roaming and movement southwards by all manner of people including the Almajirai pose security problems to these parts of the country in many ways. One, the South and the Middle-Belt of the country have been grounds for brutal killings by suspected herdsmen for a long time. And so, this curious mass movement despite the prevailing lockdown portends ill for the security and mutual wellbeing of the component nationalities of our country.

"Therefore, there is a veritable basis for the palpable fears that this mass movement might serve as an avenue to implement some sinister designs. The ease with which these seeming irregulars move across state borders with security cordons and the irredentist calls that they should resist and occupy forest and everywhere underlines the notion of collusion. This is scary. "

Another news item in the same issue of The Guardian, with the following title:

"Almajirai have no business in South East, says Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN)"

The main points in the post are as follows:

"The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) in the South East has said the evacuation of Almajiri children to the region does not make sense, insisting that they have no business moving from the North.

Chairman of MACBAN in the zone, Alhaji Gidado Siddiki, who spoke in an interview with The Guardian in Amansea, Anambra State, yesterday, (Tuesday, May 19th) argued that there was no Arabic School in the South East zone where they could be taught to attract the Almajirai to the zone."

The question remains: who sent them to the South East and for what reasons?

Another contribution on the subject was from the Archbishop of Enugu Ecclesiastical Province, Right Reverend Emmanuel Chukwuma, he reportedly said that the movements had become suspicious and wondered why such movements had heightened since the restriction on interstate movement over the COVID-19 pandemic.

Another relevant statement was from an elder statesman, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai. A former Liaison Officer to President Shehu Shagari. His statement was reported in the Vanguard of Wednesday, May 20th, in article entitled:

"Northern youths flooding South are not Almajirai - Tanko Yakassai"

by Dapo Akinrefon

He was quoted as saying the following:

"You need to investigate those who are sending these Almajirai. Is it true that they are Almajirai?"

"They wear the same things most of our compatriots wear. These are not the Almajirai from where I come from.

"This is part of the kill-and-hate Nigeria campaign and I will not be part of it.

"I am a committed Nigerian; I spent all my life, starting from 1953 when I was just 28 years old, to fight for the unity of Nigeria.

"I will not support or associate myself with anybody who is anti-Nigeria."

Lastly, there was a statement in The Daily Post of Wednesday, May 20, 2020, written by Seun Opejobi, entitled:

"Insecurity: Buhari makes clarification of neglecting some States over political differences"

.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu was quoted as saying:

"it is important to state that in his duty as Commander-in-Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari, … all the states of the federation are equal and important before the President.

"None has suffered any discrimination up to this point, and none will be made to suffer any such discrimination in dealing with security and all other matters on account of their political differences with the government at the centre."

Analysis

From the foregoing quotes from different posts, the following deductions are relevant:

  • Hundreds/thousands of homeless children, Almajirai, are being sent by trucks to the South.

  • Hundreds/thousands of able-bodied youths from the North and from outside Nigeria are also being moved to the South.

  • Some of the youths could be members of the Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen. These two groups, brothers in mass murders and killings, have been responsible for the killings in various parts of the country in their unmitigated onslaught to eliminate Christians. Killings of Christians remain their priority.

  • President Buhari, as the Commander-in-Chief, reportedly considers all the states equal in dealing with their security issues; it is claimed that none will be made to suffer.

Call for actions

  • The movements of thousands of able-bodied youths who could be members of Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen to the South in contravention of the lockdown should be investigated as these people could be potential mass murderers.

  • Their destinations are not clear and could be in the forests.

  • Mr. President, to ensure security of Southerners, these able-bodied youths should be hunted down, arrested, and interrogated. Their mission should be ascertained. Appropriate disciplinary measures should be taken in dealing with them. Otherwise, the security of Southerners remains compromised.

  • Waiting for the South to be turned into killing fields as has been happening in the Middle Belt will only confirm the suspicion of planned elimination of Christians.

  • Members of the National Assembly should not sit on the fence when the security of Nigerians is in a shambles. It is so bad that the South West created Operation Amotekun (Leopard), as a security outfit based in all their six states. It is responsible for curbing insecurity in the states. This writer is not well informed about what other states have created. However, you, as members of the National Assembly, have a legal responsibility to legislate actions that should defuse tensions in the nation, eliminate bloody confrontation, and engender peaceful coexistence.

  • State Governors are the chief security officers of their respective states. You have a responsibility to protect your people irrespective of the failings the President. It makes sense to send back the Almajirai to where they came from.

  • The able-bodied men should be hunted down and arrested. They should not be returned to where they were sent from because they will still be sent back to the South. They should be hunted for in all the forests and bushes in your states. When arrested, they should be distributed to different secure places in the state and interrogated. Communication between them and those who sent them should be cut off. They should be detained as long as necessary even if it means keeping them for years until the danger of annihilation can be eliminated.

Conclusion

  • It is beyond belief that the Nigerian President was a major general, trained in Mons Officer Cadet School Aldershot, a former British military training school and the precursor to the world-famous Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, arguably one of the best military academies in the world. Yet, since he came to office in 2015 and up till now, the country has witnessed repeated mass killings of peaceful citizens, never ever experienced in peace time.

  • What is worse, the movements of able-bodied men, discussed in this paper, portend further slaughter; indeed, planned imminent annihilation of Nigerians because of religious differences.

  • This is in Nigeria, a secular state, which the President, as the Commander-in-Chief swore on oath to defend.

  • Mr. President, your decisive actions are called for now to ensure that neither Northerners, Middle Belters, nor Southerners will continue to be massacred for their religious belief. This is your promise as our President and Commander-in-chief. Thank you.

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