Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the apex Igbo group in the country, has said the push for self-determination by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) does not mean the Igbo want to secede from Nigeria.
He said the agitations were fuelled by a sense of marginalisation.
Chuks Ibegbu, deputy publicity secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, said this in reaction to the open letter written to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo by the Arewa youth, containing a renewed call to allow the Igbo “have their Biafra”.
But the Ohanaeze mouthpiece said Igbo leaders will not be drawn into taking issue with a coalition of Arewa youth who want to drag the country into another war.
He said that Igbo leaders have chosen to “abide” by the counsel of the acting president to give room for peace to reign.
“In the first place, I want to thank the Acting President for the role he is playing in this situation. He is a peacemaker and he has shown himself to be conversant with the dynamics of leadership,” Ibegbu told PUNCH.
“The Acting President has told all the parties to allow peace to reign. Igbo are peaceful people; so, we will abide by what he said.
“We are conscious of what the Acting President told the Igbo leaders and the traditional rulers when they visited the Presidential Villa. Therefore, we will not be drawn into taking issue with these northern youths; they are people who have shown themselves to be lawbreakers and warmongers.
“The activities of these Arewa youths have shown that there is more than meets the eye to the ultimatum they gave the Igbo in the North. They simply want to drag the country into another war.
“That some individuals are pushing for self-determination in the South-East does not mean that the Igbo want to secede. The real situation is a protest against marginalisation.
Furthermore, he urged the northern youths to devote their attention to solving the problem of their own agitators – Boko Haram.
“We should not forget that even now, as we speak, the Boko Haram sect is still canvassing Islamic rule in the North, using violent means – that is a form of agitation for secession.
“So why should the northern youths ignore the log in their eyes to bother about the speck in another person’s eyes; why the venom against the Igbo?”