AREWA/IPOB: E.U Model to the rescue
Last week, Nigeria witnessed the most disturbing hate messages been spewed out from the mouths of some men who identified themselves as coalition of Northern youth or Arewa youth.
The hate messages by the Northern youth targeted against the over thirty million Igbo families residing legitimately in the North of Nigeria since after the end of the first Nigerian/Biafran civil war is disconcerting to put it mildly.
These unruly Northern youth served a quit notice to those Igbo families in the north to depart the region on or before 1st October 2017 or be forced by the youth to be evicted.
This hate messages by these Northern youth were read out to the media from the political headquarters of the core Northern Nigeria known as Arewa house in Kaduna.
Already, discordant tones have greeted the quit notice served on the Igbo families in the North by these selected but sponsored Northern youth.
On the one hand, people such as the Kaduna state governor, the Gombe state governor, the chairman of the Northern Governors forum and governor of Borno state and importantly the first class Emir of Katsina have all condemned the threat to unleash violence on the Igbo.
Infact, the emir of Katsina went as far as stating his resolve to sacrifice his life to ensure that no Igbo family in his Emirate is harmed.
But sadly the department of state services, the Army chief, the sultan of Sokoto and all the other influential Islamic scholars of Northern extraction have maintained conspiratorial silence. The inspector general of police who was in a haste to arrest peaceful protesters belonging to IPOB each time they go out for their non-violent civil rights activities has failed to arrest the Arewa youth who issued these violent threats.
Mind you, the security forces are always the first to thwart any peaceful plan by members of the indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB) to hold peaceful protests in the South-East.
Over 200 civilians belonging or sympathetic to the agitation by the Indigenous peoples of Biafra (IPOB) have been mauled down to death by the armed security forces.
Indeed, it was because of the need to avoid bloodshed that the indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB) devised another strategy which they adopted to mark the 50th anniversary of the declaration of Biafra on May 30th2017.
The success of this sit –at-home strategy jolted the security forces and motivated the Northern Youth to issue a threat to the entire Igbo race whose families stay in the North.
Mind you, Apart from the fact that the threat against Igbo families amounted to hate message which will inevitably lead to horrendous hate crime if not nibbed in the bud, it is also unconstitutional going by the provision of section 41(1) of the Nigerian constitution.
Specifically, Section 41(1) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) averred thus: “(1) Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereto or exit therefrom”.
The key questions to be asked is why the Attorney General of the Federation who is the Chief Law officer of Nigeria has so far said nothing in condemnation of this treacherous threat to inflict genocide against a section of Nigeria by another section of the country. Why the conspiratorial silence on the part of the military and security forces even when the constitution clearly assigns them the role to maintain peace and orderliness?
Of all organs of government, the armed security forces must be made up of persons who are patriotic enough to play their role notwithstanding the region of origin of those who head the command and control structure.
Section 217(1) and (2) of the Constitution have provided their functions as follows: (1) there shall be an armed forces for the Federation which shall consist of an army, a navy, an air Force and such other branches of the armed forces of the Federation as may be established by an Act of the National Assembly.
(2) The Federation shall, subject to an Act of the Ntional Assembly in that behalf, equip and maintain the armed forces as May considered adequate and effective for the purpose of (a) Defending Nigeria from external aggression ;(b) Maintaining its territorial integrity and securing its borders from violation on land, sea or air; (c) Suppressing insurrection and act in aid of civil authorities to restore order when called upon to do so by the president, but subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly; and (d) Performing such other functions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly.
Having extensively established the key points as highlighted above, the next logical step is to proffer the most workable and rational solution to the disturbing agitations for divorce of the Nigerian project from all across the different regional camps.
This pragmatic panacea has become urgent given that the Northern youth seem to assume that if Nigeria disintegrate or is dissolved, that the lawfully acquired assets (movable and immovable) belonging to the Igbo families located in the north would automatically become theirs. Far from it. The era of abandon property is gone globally and the law governing Nigeria frowns against such callous brigandage.
Even the Nigerian constitution in chapter four recognizes the inalienable right of every citizen to own a property in any part of Nigeria.
The Northern Youths who are day dreaming of the remotest possibility of taking over the property of Igbo families in the North should read section 44 (1) of the constitution.
This clear provision states that: “(1) No moveable property or any interest in an immovable property shall be taken possession of compulsorily and no right over or interest in any such property shall be acquired compulsorily in any part of Nigeria except in the manner and for the purposes prescribed by the law, among other things ;(a) Requires the prompt payment of compensation therefor; and ;(b) Gives to any person claiming such compensation a right of access for the determination of his interest in the property and the amount of compensation to the court of law or tribunal or body having jurisdiction in that part of Nigeria”.
The Dysney junior cartoon network has an anthem which says; "if you have a problem think, think and think".
Now this is my suggestion of the way out.
I am of the opinion that the National Assembly should rapidly pass a legislation authorizing referendum. This is because of the growing agitations for self-determination.
The position of Professor Yemi Osinbanjo that Nigeria is a marriage that cannot be divorced is not tenable because the marriage was instigated by a foreigner Lord Laggard in 1914. Even marriages conducted in the Catholic church are open to dissolution.
The best bet is for Nigeria to borrow a leaf from the European Union and with particular reference to ARTICLE 50 which defines how a part of the European community can exit the union.
The least number of years for negotiations is two years and the interest of all parties are tabled and carried along even as no citizen is at the risk of forfeiting his legally earned assets.
Telegraph of London wrote that Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon gives any EU member the right to quit unilaterally, and outlines the procedure for doing so. It gives the leaving country two years to negotiate an exit deal and once it's set in motion it can't be stopped except by unanimous consent of all member states.
No country has ever left the EU before, and there was no way to legally leave the EU before the Treaty of Lisbon was signed in 2007.
The Lisbon Treaty, which became law in December 2009, is designed to make the EU "more democratic, more transparent and more efficient" and is an agreement signed by the heads of state and governments of countries that are EU members.
Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 shortly before 12:30pm on March 29 2017. This means Britain should officially leave the EU no later than April 2019.
For the next two years, Britain will thrash out a deal for leaving the EU, a process that's likely to be lengthy and complicated.
Any deal must be approved by a “qualified majority” of EU member states and can be vetoed by the Europe an Parliament.
The Nigerian Parliament must borrow a leaf from this European model so a referendum is conducted and any component part that votes to depart from the Nigerian union are allowed to depart in peace with the property and assets of their people in other parts of the Country protected from forceful take over to avoid lenghty warfare.
The Federal Government and all those who believe in a united Nigeria should use peaceful means to canvass their position and reach out to those Igbo speaking people willing to vote against self determination so as to get a favourable determination should a referendum be conducted.
The time for war is far gone. This is the time for peace building.
*Emmanuel Onwubiko is Head of HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and blogs @ www.emmanuelonwubiko.com ; [email protected] .