The Igbo residing in the north have been asked to stay put in the region by the Arewa Youths Consultative Forum who had earlier issued an October 1 quit notice to them.
Although the controversial notice was withdrawn last week, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) had urged the Igbo to pack their things and leave the north, saying the northerners cannot be trusted.
“We urge all southerners in the core north to return home before October 1 as history will most definitely repeat itself.
“Southerners were massacred in the pogroms of 1966 and 1967 after similar assurances were issued then that people should remain in the north,” IPOB had said.
But Yerima Shettima, Arewa youth leader, has urged the Igbo to “ignore IPOB”, assuring them of their safety.
“There is no need for them (Igbo) to go anywhere. They can ignore IPOB; they are not even popular,” Shettima told PUNCH.
“We have a culture; we have a background and when we say something we stand by it. We are not like IPOB that talks from both sides of the mouth.”
“Before we arrived at our decision, we consulted widely. Our people are not violent. We have leaders and when they speak, we obey them. It is part of our culture.”
Shettima said the Arewa youth groups were still hell bent on pushing for a referendum for the Igbo, while he also called on south-east leaders to caution IPOB.
He said the purpose of the quit notice was to “unify” Nigeria.
“Our focus is to unify the country and for the nation to remain one. It is left for the political elite and the traditional rulers to get them to embrace peace. For us, we have demonstrated our patriotism to the country,” he said.
“But we still insist on the call for a referendum for the Igbo to leave the country; we are working on it. We want a referendum to be enshrined in the constitution.”