Members of the Nigerian Indigenous Nationalities Alliance for Self-Determination (NINAS) have 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 Muhammadu Buhari Presidency has, however, attacked Yoruba Nation agitators, saying they cannot be taken seriously as long as they associate with the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), which it accused of committing many atrocities.
A statement signed by presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu on Wednesday said, “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.
“Without doubt, Nigerians and the entire world will judge Yoruba Nation by the company it keeps. No one can take seriously this organisation if it continues its IPOB association. When their allies systematically trample human rights, it raises sober questions about their claims to uphold the values of the UN.
“The cooperation is a worrying development, once parsed with Yoruba Nation’s increasingly violent rallies in Nigeria. Actions and associations speak louder than words. Yoruba Nation’s talk of human rights promotion must therefore be ignored.
“Meanwhile, the Nigerian government will continue its work at the UN- to fight against corruption and illicit financial flows, and international cooperation. If we want to see stolen funds returned to their rightful home in Nigeria, the government must continue to campaign for and coordinate global action on asset recovery.
“The government will remain the leading regional actor in the fight against global terror – particularly against threats emanating from the Sahel. Through the Nigerian Technical Aid Corps programme, the country also shares technical expertise with countries from the Caribbean, Africa and the Pacific. At the same time, the administration is implementing a programme of environmental sustainability to combat developments which destroys Nigerian communities in vulnerable regions.”
“Only through the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development can we secure a prosperous future for Nigeria. As the largest country in Africa, the government takes seriously its leadership role and will continue to strive for continental unity, cooperation, and shared prosperity.”
“Our expectation is therefore for the media to work with the government to focus attention on the core issues the President, the leader of the country has on his programme.”