The leadership of the Nigerian Indigenous Nationalities Alliance for Self-Determination (NINAS) has condemned a statement by the Nigerian Presidency linking the ongoing Million-Man Freedom March to the agitations of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
Members of NINAS had stormed the UN headquarters in New York on Tuesday and Wednesday, urging world leaders to facilitate the conduct of a referendum in Nigeria.
The coalition of agitators for self-determination consists of southerners and Middle Belt people, under Ilana Omo Oodua, Lower Niger Congress and the Middle Belt Movement, led by Prof Banji Akintoye, Tony Nnadi and Yusuf Turaki respectively.
The Nigerian government in reaction, attacked Yoruba Nation agitators, saying they cannot be taken seriously as long as they associate with IPOB, which it accused of committing many atrocities.
A statement signed by presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu on Wednesday reads partially, “For Nigerian diaspora groups to use the world’s largest platform – the United Nations General Assembly – to garner attention to their causes is not unexpected. It was, however shocking, to see 'Yoruba Nation' advocates yesterday unequivocally throw their lot in with Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
“IPOB is a designated terrorist organisation. It has now publicly revealed a 50,000 strong paramilitary organisation. It regularly murders security services and innocent civilians, with a significant uptick of violent attacks this year. And it is currently attempting to hold Nigerian states hostage with orders to stay at home under threat of terror...”
A recent statement issued by the leader of NINAS, Professor Banji Akintoye, faulted Shehu's words, stating that the group has no link with IPOB.
Akintoye said it is an unintelligent attempt to paint the peaceful demonstration black because it has succeeded in exposing to the world, the ongoing genocide and fraud being perpetrated by the Fulani-Controlled Nigerian Government against the peoples of the South and Middle-Belt Regions of the Country through the imposed 1999 Constitution.
In the statement signed by NINAS communication manager, Maxwell Adeleye, Akintoye said the March was organised to show to the world, the ordeal, suffering and subjugation of the indigenous people of the South and Middle of Nigeria in the hands of the Fulani-Controlled Nigerian Government.
Akintoye said NINAS has nothing whatsoever in plans, principle and content to do with IPOB, stating that the Nigerian Government should address all issues raised by the protesters, rather than resorting to blackmail and peddling of fallacies.
He advised that rather than losing sleep and temper over the March, the Nigerian Government should, without further delay, declare Miyetti Allah a terrorist organisation as being demanded by NINAS, saying "the real terrorists in Nigeria are operating under Miyetti Allah".
He said, "Members of Miyetti Allah have killed scores and thousands of the people in the South and Middle-Belt Regions of Nigeria. They have invaded hundreds of towns and villages, brandishing dangerous weapons to kill, maim and rape our people. The Nigerian Government has done nothing to curtail these marauders.
"Rather than listen to the yearnings and aspirations of our people, the Buhari-led Government has consistently waged war against people who attempt to checkmate the menace of Miyetti Allah in the name of grazing of cows.
"The genocide and Crimes Against Humanity being committed by Miyetti Allah means nothing to the Nigerian Presidency. The Presidency has declared our Governors in the South Personal Non-Grata for enacting laws to checkmate the murderous activities of Miyetti Allah.
"Now, the Government is attempting, unintelligently, to criminalise peaceful organisations like NINAS, Ilana Omo Oodua, Lower Niger Congress and Middle-Belt Rennaissance Movement for embarking on a peaceful March outside the shores of Nigeria where the guns and ammunition of the Presidency cannot touch them.
"For the record, we wish to state very expressly, and with all due respect to whatever they represent, that NINAS and its affiliate organisations - Ilana Omo Oodua (IOO), Lower Niger Congress (LNC) and Middle-Belt Rennaissance Movement (MBRM) have nothing whatsoever to do with IPOB.
"We also want to put it on record that IPOB is not in any way involved in the ongoing march in New York. The IPOB Banner you saw was obviously planted by agents of the Nigerian Government masquerading as members of NINAS for photoshoots which we have since unravelled and checkmated.
"We say to the Presidency that the unintelligent attempt to cause frictions and divisions between the Yoruba people in the West and the Igbo people in the East is dead on arrival. We shall continue to collaborate, peacefully, for the salvation of our people.
"Our appeal to the Government, therefore, is to address the issues raised in the December 16, 2020, Constitution Force Majure declared by NINAS. This appeal is necessary so that Indigenous Nationalities in NINAS Territories can peacefully negotiate for what they want without further delay.
"Our demand remains conduct of a referendum so that the Indigenous people of the South and Middle-Belt of Nigeria can lawfully and legally decide on their nationhood and sovereignty. We demand the immediate abolition of the imposed 1999 Constitution.
"We demand an end to the genocide being perpetrated by Miyetti Allah against our people. Miyetti Allah is a Terrorist group and it should be declared such by the United Nations. The invasion of our land in the name of grazing is enough. What is happening in our Territories today is State-sponsored Terrorism and Land grab, not cow grazing.
"Instead of planting IPOB banners in our March venue with the hope of using it to paint our struggle black before the world leaders on 24th September that he wants to address UNGA, we advise President Muhammad Buhari to stop mortgaging our future through the borrowing of endless loans.
"We shall resume the March on 24th September, opposite the United Nations Headquaters to tell President Muhammadu Buhari to his face that his Miyetti Allah people are the enemy number one of the people of South and Middle-Belt of Nigeria, and they are the authentic Terrorists."