NIGERIA’S ethnic tensions intensified significantly yesterday after members of the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) approached the Federal High Court in Abuja asking it to order the National Assembly to ensure the exit of the southeast geo-political zone from the country.
Since President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office in 2015, Nigeria’s ethnic tensions have mounted significantly. In the southeast for instance, the Igbo-speaking people feel marginalised when it comes to federal appointments and infrastructure, with the Buhari administration being accused of blatant pro-north bias.
To make matters worse, the government has been accused of turning a blind eye to the activities of armed Fulani cattle herdsmen who have launched a war of terror on rural farming communities across the country. President Buhari, an ethnic Fulani who rears cattle himself, has been accused of encouraging them with his inaction.
In the midst of such tension, support for secession has grown, leading to the increasing popularity of groups like the Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob). Upping the ante, Several CNG members filed a suit in an Abuja court asking that the exit of southeast Igbos from Nigeria should take place before the conclusion of the ongoing constitutional amendment.
Plaintiffs, led by Nastura Ashir Shariff, Balarabe Rufa’I, Abdul-Aziz Sulaiman and Aminu Adamu, explained that their action is informed by the need to curtail violence and destruction as a result of the agitation for secession championed by Ipob. They noted that they are strongly against a repeat of the 1967 to 1970 civil war in Nigeria that cost the country millions of lives and property worth billions of naira.
In their suit, the attorney-general of the federation, the senate president, the speaker of the House of Representatives and the National Assembly were listed as defendants. Ipob, led by Nnamdi Kanu, claims marginalisation by the government is their main driving force, insisting that a referendum be conducted to allow Igbos leave Nigeria.