An Igbo group, under the aegis of Coalition of Igbo Unions of Nigeria (CIUN) has cautioned the governor of Abia state against alleged persecution of Northerners in the state.
The Igbo group warned that move by governor Alex Otti to forcefully eject the Northern businesses at the Cattle market out of the state “will have a negative boomerang effect on Igbo traders in the North and across Nigeria.”
In a statement released Friday in Abuja, signed by some of the leaders of the group, asked governor Otti to “rescind his ethnically motivated outbursts and apologize to the Northern traders.”
The said the vacate ultimatum issued by Governor Alex Otti to the Northern business owners have greatly increased the already tensed socio- political atmosphere in the country.
The statement signed by group’s Chairman, Obinna John Okoroafor, the secretary, Udoka Onwuka and the Public Relations Officer, Maduabuchi Ibe Madu, also condemned “the indiscriminate demolition of shops and residential homes and demand that alternatives be provided for our Northern brothers without delay.”
The statement reads: “Our attention has been drawn to the ongoing crisis at the Abia Cattle Market situated in Umunneochi LGA of Abia State.
“While we acknowledge the importance of Security of lives and property of all Nigerians living in every part of the Country, we STRONGLY CONDEMN AND DISSOCIATE OURSELVES FROM THE ETHNIC PROFILING being perpetrated by Mr Alex Otti against our brothers from Northern Nigeria doing business at the Umunneochi Cattle Market.
“This is because the thoughtless move by Alex Otti to forcefully eject the Northern businesses at the Cattle market will have a negative boomerang effect on Igbo traders in the North and across Nigeria.
“We have observed with grave displeasure that Mr Alex Otti is selectively persecuting Northerners in the Market instead of taking a holistic approach that confronts the criminality going on in the Area.
“We have carefully observed that the ‘vacate the Cattle Market ‘ ultimatum issued by Governor Alex Otti have greatly increased the already tensed socio- political atmosphere in the Country.
“The plight of Northern Traders in the Cattle market if not handled satisfactorily will set a dangerous precedent which will ignite violence and clashes in various parts of Nigeria against Igbos.
“We, therefore, wish to distance ourselves from the reckless utterances and thoughtless actions of Mr Alex Otti whom we believe is playing to the gallery for political gains.”
While urging the security agencies to redouble their efforts in curbing the menace of kidnapping and criminality in Umunneochi, Abia State and Nigeria in general, the statement added: “We remain Nigerians and are committed to the actualization of a peaceful and just environment for all Nigerians irrespective of ethnicity, religion or tribe.
“To ensure stability and peace, we are giving Mr Alex Otti, 48 hours to immediately rescind his ethnically motivated outbursts and apologize to the Northern Traders who have cohabitated peacefully with their host communities hitherto.”