Governors of Nigeria’s 19 northern states on Thursday said that they have taken security measures to ensure that Wednesday’s violence that included burning of places of worship in the commercial city of Onitsha in Anambra State does not spread to the northern part of the country.
Speaking on behalf of the 19 governors, Borno State Governor and Chairman of the Northern States Governors’ Forum, Kashim Shettima, said that the governors, particularly those of major cities were in touch with one another on Wednesday and had taken some firm measures aimed at averting any spill-over.
A three-week-long pro-Biafra protest turned bloody on Wednesday resulting in the killing of scores with many injured in Onitsha, the commercial city of Anambra State.
The protesters were pressing for the release of detained Director of Radio Biafra, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu.
In a statement issued by his spokesman, Malam Isa Gusau on Thursday in Maiduguri, Shettima said that the governors took the undisclosed measures, following media reports claiming that worship places were torched during the Wednesday violence in Onitsha.
The statement reads: “We condemn the Wednesday crisis in very strong term. We have been in touch with one another today. The Governors of major cities in the north in particular, have been in critical touch to share thoughts and we have collectively taken firm measures to ensure that the violence doesn’t spread to any part of the 19 northern States and we will also be working with our colleagues in the south to nip the crisis in the bud but we will not disclose the measures we have taken so that those who may want to take advantage of the Onitsha mayhem don’t know our strategies.
“However, it is surprising to the Northern States Governors Forum that any Nigerian at all can even contemplate any kind of violence when we already have serious problems of Boko Haram insurgents that are killing Muslims and Christians, killing northerners and southerners, attacking Mosques, Churches and markets, in an effort to kill all of us that do not subscribe to their interpretation of Islam.
“We have Boko Haram that kill Hausa, Fulani, Ibo, Yoruba, Kanuri, Ijaw and anyone they are able to come across. We thought that the existence of Boko Haram should have been enough to make all Nigerians fuse into one and fight a common enemy.
“It is really sad that any Nigerian can contemplate violence. We are not blaming any individual or group because there are security agencies whose job it is to safeguard lives and property and do investigations where necessary, we will not go into their duties.
“We beg all Nigerians to be calm and go about their duties in peace. We have got more than enough problems to worry about. We can’t afford any distraction that will shift our focus from the bigger problems of Boko Haram that has an ambition of sending the human race into extinction.
“We urge all Nigerians to be calm. We particularly call on all Nigerians living in the northern states not to pay attention to differences in religion and ethnicity but rather, should see each other as Nigerians with equal residential rights and fundamental human rights that include freedom to lawfully reside anywhere in Nigeria, freedom of worship, movement, trade, association, education, healthcare and other rights as provided by the Nigerian constitution.
“We particularly call on our youths not to allow anyone use them for any purpose because youths have suffered more than any other age category from the hands of Boko Haram insurgents and that is more than enough.
“Our focus should be on how to end the Boko Haram insurgency and not to be driven into any other crisis. We have suffered too much, we must say no to any crisis.
“As heads of Government of the 19 northern states, we will by the grace of God, do everything humanly possible to ensure that no resident, regardless of his or her ethno-religious background, is denied any of these rights.
“As Nigerians, we are one, we need one another and we must live as one people,” Shettima said, on behalf of the Northern Governors.