Lower Niger people seek referendum on self-determination
INDICATIONS have emerged that leaders of the Lower Niger Region will seek a referendum for self-determination in response to what they called “a grand conspiracy by the South West and the North to dominate the country” contrary to the principles and practice of true federalism.
The Lower Niger Region comprising the nationalities in the South East, South South and parts of Middle Belt, are demanding that the unitary constitution handed over by the military in 1979 and modified in 1999, has eroded the essence of Nigeria’s federal status,” consequently, all the elections being held under these constitutions have rather reinforced a deepening sense of division, general insecurity among the federating units, threats of genocide, bullying of the minority groups and excluding them from free participation in the governance of the country based on popular choice.”
At a press briefing in Lagos to review the outcome of the 2015 general elections, leaders of the group under the aegis of Lower Niger Congress, said “they will meet in Port Harcourt on Monday April 27, to formally declare their resolve to the world and brave the consequences.”
The Secretary General of LNC, Barrister Tony Nnadi said “the people of Lower Niger region have studied the charade called 2015 general election, which the international community adjuged to be free and fair ” but in reality, it negated the foundation of Nigeria’s existence as the All Progressives Congress which won the election and became the dominant party had crafted an alliance of Yoruba/Hausa-Fulani political elite which excludes the 75million people who make up Lower Niger region”.
Barrister Nnadi said the Lower Niger Congress will invoke the 2007 UN resolution which entitles the minority nationalities to self-determination through a non-restrictive referendum as was recently undertaken by the Scottish Nationalist Party in United Kingdom.
Barrister Nnadi said “contrary to its earlier demands for a restructuring of Nigeria along regional autonomy and evolving a new constitution for the regional and the federal government, ” some of those who want to continue with the master- slave conditions imposed on Nigeria by the unitary federal constitution based on the military command structure, went ahead to conduct a facade called a general election that has left Nigeria more religiously and ethnically bruised and fractured”
He said the fate of 75million people who make up the region can only be determined by them and the question before them will be: whether they want to remain in the Nigeria federation and under what constitution will such relationship be based?
According to Nnadi “the brazen manner in which the electoral umpire allowed the flagrant violation of the Electoral Act on eligibility of candidates, use of juvenile voters in the north, the disenfranchisement of millions of voters in Lower Niger region can hardly pass the 2015 general election as free, fair and credible”
Also worrisome was the open intimidation of voters in the North and South West, suppression of votes from areas dominated by Christians in the North and non-indigenes in the South West “which were done to achieve a pre-determined goal to force a defeat of President Goodluck Jonathan with the active collaboration of the US and UK.” He said.
He said the open threat to the lives and property of people from the Lower Niger by the Oba of Lagos HRM Rilwanu Akiolu, and the possible genocide in the North if APC had lost the presidential election have compelled leaders of Lower Niger to step out now before another Liberia or Rwanda is re-enacted in Nigeria.
The President of LNC Dr. Fred Agbeyegbe said the North is using the unfair advantages the 1999 constitution to bully the other parts of the country which are being treated as conquered territories.
He said the Lower Niger people want to invoke the 2007 UN Resolution on self-determination which was the basis for the Scottish referendum last year.
Dr. Agbeyegbe said the various ethic nationalities want to decide whether they want to remain in the Nigeria federation where the North breached the secularity of the country by introducing the Sharia law in 12 states in 2002 and went further to introduce terrorism to make the country ungovernable for the first ever president from the Lower Niger region.
He said the international community which aided and abetted the scuttling of Jonathan’ s presidency should be ready to see the emergence of new nation in Africa.