The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) said on Friday it was standing by its old call for the South Eastern Igbo people to be allowed to leave Nigeria if that is what they want. The NEF has also asked Ohanaeze Ndigbo to channel his energy to contribute to the security of their region in the face of growing threats of insecurity.
NEF official Prof Ango Abdullahi made the remarks while reacting to a comment attributed to Ohanaeze Ndigbo spokesperson Dr Alex Ogbonnia in which he called NEF spokesperson Dr Hakeem Baba -Ahmed, security threat.
Baba-Ahmed had, in an old press conference video clip reposted on social media by a presidential aide during the week, said: “We said if secession is what every Igbo wants, and that is what the Igbo want, the nation should not go to war for it.
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He added that they should be allowed to leave Nigeria.
On Wednesday, Ohanaeze’s spokesman, Dr. Ogbonnia, strongly responded to the statement describing her as “extremely nauseating, rude, defiant, incendiary, incendiary and above all, very arrogant and licentious.”
The Ohanaeze spokesperson said: “We reiterate that BabaAhmed’s broadcast is a threat to the peace and unity of the country and that security agencies should act in time to deter certain others harboring such spirits against the unity and corporate existence of Nigeria.”
However, NEF official Prof. Abdullahi said the statement read by Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed was authorized by the Forum and represented his position.
“My attention has been drawn to comments by Ohanaeze Ndigbo spokesperson Dr Alex Ogbonnia on the Northern Elders Forum Publicity and Advocacy Director Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed.
“These remarks are dangerous and irresponsible to say the least, intended to achieve a single objective: to put the life of Dr Baba-Ahmed in danger.
“The Northern Elders Forum categorically states that all comments and statements by Dr BabaAhmed are authoritative and represent his positions.
“The press statement which he read on June 8, 2021 at the forum headquarters in Abuja in the presence of the entire forum was the statement of the forum by which he still stands.
“We are aware of attempts to make this statement appear recent, as well as other attempts to misrepresent its content to create scapegoats for the failure to limit the damage of irredentism.
“Despite many efforts to inform the public appropriately, it appears that Ohaneze Ndigbo either falls prey to more wrongdoing, or is himself actively involved in incitement against a citizen,” Professor Abdullahi said.
He said the forum stood by its Director of Publicity and Advocacy, whom he described as “a Nigerian whose pedigree and service to the country have few parallels”.
He said the forum “sees the assertion that Dr Baba Ahmed is a security risk and the demand that he be arrested as pathetic and below even ordinary Ohanaeze Ndigbo standards. We notify that we know who to hold responsible in case of harm caused to Dr. Baba-Ahmed.
The NEF official therefore told Ohanaeze Ndigbo to “focus his attention on contributing to securing the people of the South East against multiple threats, and ensuring that Ndigbo has appropriate relevance in Nigeria.
“The Forum affirms its full confidence in Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, who will continue to serve the country and the North as we seek an inclusive future in Nigeria”