The Middle Belt Youth Council has distanced itself from eviction threat given to the Igbo people residing in Northern Nigeria by some groups in the region.
The group in a statement by its president, Emma Zopmal, said it is ready to accommodate Ndigbos who may be fleeing the North due to the threat.
It further stated that its land has been a home for the entire Southern Nigeria.
The group was reacting to a recent threat by northern youths, including the Arewa youths, who gave the Igbos resident in the North till October 1, 2017 deadline to leave or be forced out.
They further called for the restructuring of Nigeria, saying that the Middle Belt will join hands with Southern Nigeria to actualize it.
The statement reads in part: “We want to clarify those who think that the Middle Belt is part of the North: God created everywhere and everyone and He gave it to whom He chooses and Middle Belt is a creation of God and not man (Usman dan Fodio). Therefore, we choose what to use our land for, how to run it and where we want to be.
“Middle Belt has been a home for the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, South-South and the South-West without any form of discrimination against anyone. We’ve accommodated every Nigerian for centuries now. We deserve respect and commendations.
“If the Arewa youths are sending away Igbos from their states, we in the Middle Belt are ready to offer them accommodation in our land (which is an inheritance from God and nobody will take it away from us) for them to continue with their life and businesses.
“Southern Nigeria people should also know that ‘Middle Belters’ are not northerners and we can never be because we’re not affiliated in terms of culture, language, education, economy, and general lifestyle.
“The Biafran struggle did not come as an accident but as a result of injustice and unfair treatment to regions, people or religion. Over the years, our federalism has been a fat lie that deprives political rights and freedom of some sections of the country while others benefit immensely from it. Middle Belt has been at the receiving end of this inequitable arrangement in which our people in Southern Kaduna, Southern Bauchi, Southern Borno, Southern Kebbi, Adamawa are under constant alienation and annihilation.
“Therefore, Middle Belt strongly stands for reconstruction of Nigeria not only restructuring. We’ll join hands with Southern Nigerian people to actualize it. In view of this press statement, we want to urge Middle Belters to remain resolute in making sure we protect our future against the claims by the Hausa/Fulani. More so, for want of peace and unity of dear country Nigeria, we call on Igbo nation to feel at home in the Middle Belt in an event they are sent away from the Arewa land.”
It will be recalled that on Tuesday, a coalition of Northern groups, including the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, gave all Igbos resident in the 19 states of the North a three-month ultimatum to quit or be forced out after the expiration of the October 1, 2017 deadline.
“We are also telling our brothers (northerners) out there in the South-East to get prepared to come back home,” the National President, AYCF, Yerima Shettima, said at a press conference in Kaduna.