NORTHERNERS FLEE SOUTH EAST
Apparently afraid of reprisal attacks, northerners in the South East have started fleeing in droves. Also, nationals of neighbouring countries are leaving. Saturday Sun observed in Aba, Owerri and Onitsha northerners are boarding trailers heading to the North. As a result, most of the business they dominate are now having Igbo operators.
A visit to the cattle market, Bridgehead, Onitsha and the Upper Iweka axis, showed that northerners, who sell onions and tomatoes, are no longer there. Also, northern shoe makers, nail cutters and suya vendors are not in sight.
Northerners, who work as gatemen in different compounds and companies have also left Onitsha.
Speaking on the issue, the South East Vice Chairman for Campaign for Democracy, Dede Uzor A. Uzor, said there was no need for northerners to leave town, as Igbo have resolved to be calm, in the face of the killings in the North, to show maturity.
He said that Igbo are not blood-thirsty cannibals, adding that they would remain calm, even in the face of provocation from Boko Haram.
In a related development, the ever busy Hausa quarters (aka Ama Hausa) along Douglas Road, Owerri, Imo State, is now a shadow of itself, following the exodus of Hausa families.
Saturday Sun gathered that women and children of northern origin have been sent home for safety, while the men (Husbands) remain to monitor the situation.
Suya sellers of northern origin were seen at their business posts at Ama Hausa and the Central Mosque area. At Mbaise Road/Douglas Junction Owerri, Saturday Sun observed some Hausa youths selling their wares.
Speaking to Saturday Sun, Hausa Nuhu, a trader, expressed worry over the activities of the Islamic sect, Boko Haram.
He said: 'We have been living peaceful with the natives over 30 years without any disturbances and one cannot understand this ugly situation. We want the government to arrest the ugly situation, so that we will continue to live in harmony with our neighbours.
'It is a pity that one will begin to maintain two families at these hard times. We should start to learn how to tolerate each other and this unprovoked attacks by the Boko Haram are uncalled for.'
Mallam Maggai Mohamed, a father of seven, said he has no option but to remain Owerri, to continue his lace business in order to feed his family.
'To me, I believe I have no problem with anybody in area having lived here for more than 40 years. It will not be easy for me to adjust if I relocated to my home state, Sokoto State. The Igbo have been accommodating and we are pleading with them not to embark on any reprisal attack.
Meanwhile, immigrants from West African countries living in Alaba Rago area, opposite Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos have started an exodus to Seme border, enroute their respective nations.
It was gathered that the aliens from Niger Republic and Chad, who engage in menial jobs, ranging from operating commercial motorcycle, shoe mending and security guards, are startled by telephone text messages that members of Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) are planning to attack Hausa in Lagos, to avenge the killing of Yoruba in the North by Boko Haram.
One of them said that their decision to make haste while the sun shines was in order not to be caught in crossfire, as people mistake them for Hausas from the North. The panic stricken Nigeriens told Saturday Sun in Pidgin English that since Boko Haram asked northerners living in the South to come back to the North while southerners living in the North should return to their areas, they have been following development. According to him, they have heard that northerners in Igboland are going back to the respective states and therefore, they would be foolish to remain in Nigeria.
He said: 'E good make we dey go our town for Niger Republic. We hear say OPC won fight Hausa;, dem say Boko Haram people don kill Yoruba people for Maiduguri; na him make OPC wan kill back Hausa. We no be Nigeria;, make we go our town. You people dey take us to be Mallam.'
The fear of the West Africans was heightened again by the protests against the removal of fuel subsidy, especially with the violence that characterised the protest around Iyanna Iba, Alaba Rago and Okokomaiko, where people were stabbed with broken bottles.
It will be recalled that telephone text messages were received by many people cautioning them over their movement, as some elements in OPC are allegedly hatching a plan to attack Hausas at their various settlements in Idi Araba, Gbagada, Orile, Mile 12, Ketu, Berger, Okokomaiko, Alaba Rago, Agege, AP/Sari-Igamu and other locations, where Hausas live, to revenge the killing of Yoruba in the North by Boko Haram.