By NBF News

The Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Chief Nduese Essien has assured northerners living in Akwa Ibom State that they will not be attacked by the people or forced to leave the state.

Essien was compelled to address northerners on Sunday following the tension among northerners in the state after the evacuation of members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) from the state serving in Bauchi,

Essien, a former leader of the South-South Parliamentary Caucus in the National Assembly gave the assurance following rising fears that the post-election violence in some parts of the North could spark off retaliation in some southern states.

As part of measures to douse tension and reassure the people, the minister had invited leaders of Non-indigene Association of the 12 local government areas in Eket Senatorial District, to a parley.

Those who attended the meeting included representatives of Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo and other ethnic groups living and doing business in the senatorial district. The meeting took place at the minister's country home in Ntaisip Community in Eket Local Government Area of the state. He said the people of the southern part of the country were peace-loving and would not attack their brothers from the North in spite of what had happened. 'I invited you to reassure you that your safety is guaranteed wherever you live or do business in Akwa Ibom State. Our people are hospitable and peace-loving and would not attack anybody because of what has happened in some parts of the North. 'But it is necessary to warn those who are fanning the embers of violence to stop so as not to jeopardise the unity of the country.

'We have never witnessed such unprovoked attacks on innocent persons doing legitimate business in the South and we want to advise perpetrators of the dastardly acts to be reasonable.'      He described the killing of innocent Nigerians, especially youth corps members, by irate youths in some parts of the country as unfortunate and unwarranted and called on leaders of such areas to call their youths to order.

Essien noted that it was primitive for people to resort to violence and wanton destruction of lives and property over a minor political disagreement.

He enjoined Nigerians from all walks of life to support President Goddluck Jonathan and other leaders who had shown serious commitment towards the development of the country. He said the just concluded National Assembly and presidential elections in the country had been adjudged by local and international observers as free, fair and credible and wondered why any group should resort to violence.