Why security agencies can’t arrest Arewa Youths, Nnamdi Kanu –Investigation​
The Federal Government may have tactically withdrawn its orders to arrest the leaders of the Coalition of Northern Youth Groups (Arewa Youths) who recently issued a three-month ultimatum to Igbo people living within the boundaries of the 19 northern states.It has also rejected the clamour in certain quarters for security agencies to arrest Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), over his recent pronouncements and actions.
Sunday Telegraph learnt that the change in tactics followed security reports, which showed that arresting the members of the Arewa Youths could spark off negative reactions and further fuel anti-Igbo sentiments across the northern region.
Similarly, intelligence reports available to the Presidency were also not in favour of a re-arrest of the IPOB leader (Kanu) who has been accused of violating some of his bail conditions. Kanu was released barely two months ago after he had spent about two years in detention, following his campaign for the revival of the defunct Republic of Biafra.
The Coalition of Northern Youths had, early this month, threatened to forcefully evict the Igbos from the North and confiscate their investments if they did not leave the territory by October 1, 2017. In the wake of the threat, the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris ordered the arrest of the youths on the premise that their utterances constituted a threat to national security.
However, three weeks after the order was issued, the Police is yet to effect any arrest. Instead, the Acting President, Prof. Femi Osinbajo, has been meeting with the leadership of the various ethnic groups in the country, with a view to dousing the tension created by the quit notice. So far, Osinbajo has met with the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) as well as the traditional rulers from both the North and the South East.
Although, Osinbajo had condemned both the Biafra agitations and the quit notice, Sunday Telegraph gathered that he had refrained from pursuing the option of force in addressing both challenges. During each of the meetings he has held with the different groups, Osinbajo was said to have continued to appeal to the conscience of stakeholders to understand the implications of a divided country.
A source at one of the consultative meetings told Sunday Telegraph that the central theme of the parleys has been how Nigerians could understand the strenght in its diversity.
“He made us to understand that the strenght of this country lies in its size and diversity. Nigeria is respected in the comity of nations because we are the most populous black nation on earth. Broken into small parts, it won’t work and Nigeria would lose its pride of place in the comity of nations. Small countries could be easily run over but not a big one like Nigeria. Small countries face peculiar challenges.
They may try very hard like Rwanda, but despite all the efforts of Rwanda, Lagos is still times larger than Rwanda in terms of economy.
There is something about size and economics of scale. How can Nigeria compete favourably with other countries such as India, Brazil and China if we break up into small parts. In essence, the Federal Government has chosen not to make heroes out of these promoters of hate speech and separatist ideology by not arresting them.
They may not be very influential in real terms, they may not have real electoral value but they are popular because of the views they espouse.
Whether they are the Arewa Youths who want Igbos to leave the North or the Biafra agitators who see Nnamdi Kanu like a messiah, they have to be handled with caution because they carry messages that appeal to the emotions of a large section of the populace.
If you are not careful in handling such groups, you may inadvertently trigger a reaction that would be like a wild fire,” our source said. It would be recalled that even while the dust raised by the Arewa Youths was yet to settle.
The General Secretary of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Prof. Ango Abdullahi, had endorsed the quit notice, even while a number of prominent leaders from the North have been singing discordant tunes on the issue.