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According to news
reports
, on Tuesday, the 6th of June, 2017, 16, Northern groups including
the Arewa Citizens Action for Change, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Arewa
Youth Development Foundation, Arewa Students Forum and Northern Emancipation
Network on the Igbo Persistence for Secession, among others directed all Igbos
residing in their States to vacate the northern region before the 1st
of October, 2017.


This comes closely behind
the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Movement for the Sovereign State
of Biafra (MASSOB)’s May 30 shut down of commercial and social activities in
major towns in the East over Biafra agitations. The deadline which is worrisome
and could lead to a volcanic rise in ethnic tensions or probably another civil
war is condemnable in the highest words and not in the spirit of national unity
or have we as a country crossed the rubicon 
and now heading towards self- implosion?  

The Constitutional and
fundamental rights of every Nigerian with an Igbo descent is now on the line and
the a subsequent breach of same will likely result to violence, senseless loss
of lives and regional tensions as seen during the Nigerian civil war.   According
to Nigerian Constitution, Section 41 guarantees the right of every Nigerian to
freedom of movement. It provides in subsection 1 that-
“Every
Citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside
in any part thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria
or refused entry thereto or exit there from.”  
Section 43, further
provides for the right to acquire and own immovable property anywhere in Nigeria.
For ease of reference, it provides that;
“Subject
to the provisions of this Constitution, every citizen of Nigeria shall have the
right to acquire and own immovable property anywhere in Nigeria”.
The above provisions of
the Nigerian Constitution clearly shows that the deadline given to Igbos is a
clear breach of our constitutional provisions and thus should be met the full
force of the law and expertise of national security agencies to prevent the
grave mishap that looms in our front yard. The only legal exceptions provided
for the above constitutional provisions is also clearly outlined in Section 45
of the said Constitution which provides that only laws passed in a democratic
society and in the interest of defence, public safely, public order public morality
or public health; or for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedom of
other persons. Can the deadline be described as a law in line with the
provisions of Section 45, the answer is No.

Moreover, the said
deadline is seditious in itself and a breach of Section 51 of the Criminal Code
Act. Sedition has been defined by the Criminal Code in Section 50(2) to mean; any
act that excites the citizens or other inhabitants of Nigeria to attempt to
procure the alteration, otherwise than by lawful means, of any other matter in
Nigeria as by law established; or  to
raise discontent or disaffection amongst the citizens or other inhabitants of
Nigeria; or to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different
classes of the population of Nigeria. Could the deadline given by these
Northern groups be said to fall in line with the definition of a seditious act
under the criminal code, the answer is Yes. What the n is the penalty?

Section 51 of the Criminal
Code provides that;
“any
person who-
(a)
does or attempts to do, or makes any preparation to do, or conspires with any
person to do, any act with a seditious intention;
(b)
utters any seditious words;
(c)
prints, publishes, sells, offers for sale, distributes or reproduces any
seditious publication;  
(d)
imports any seditious publication, unless he has no reason to believe that it
is seditious;
 shall be guilty of an offence and liable on
conviction for a first offence to imprisonment for two years”.
The Penal Code also recognizes
the offence of sedition where it provides in Section 417 that “Whoever, seeks
to excite hatred or contempt against any class of persons in such a way as to
endanger the public peace, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which
may extend to three years or with fine or with both”.

Clearly the deadline given
by the Northern groups to Igbo-Nigerians is a clear seditious, constitutional
and fundamental breach of Nigerian laws which clearly should attract prosecution.

Dunmade
Onibokun Esq.
Adedunmade
Onibokun & Co.