The tension in the polity stepped up a notch on Friday when Niger Delta militants issued an October 1 ultimatum for northerners to leave their region.
The ultimatum was in response to a quit notice given to Igbos by some Arewa youth groups earlier in the week.
“From October 1, 2017, we don’t want to see any northerner close to (the) Niger Delta; any attempt to penetrate shall meet fierce resistance. This time, we are not going to play defence, but attack,” said the Niger Delta militants at the end of a meeting in Port Harcourt, the Rivers capital.
According to the militants, the declaration by the Arewa youths were made with the full awareness of northern elders, leaders, political elite, security heads from the North and governors. This is irrespective of the fact that the Northern Governors Forum and several individual northern governors have publicly denounced the Arewa youths for their threats.
Other demands made by the Niger Delta militants in their communique include full control of the resources of the region, revocation of oil blocs owned by Northerners and relocation of the the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to the region.
“We demand 100 per cent control of our resources. We demand that the Federal Government should hand over all oil blocs owned by northerners to Niger Delta indigenes. All the companies operating in such oil blocs/wells should vacate within three months.
“The Federal Government should immediately relocate NNPC and all the offices that have to do with oil/gas sector back to Niger Delta states and immediately replace the Group Managing Director with an indigene of Niger Delta. All northern indigenes working in NNPC and any other board that has anything to do with oil/gas should be sacked with immediate effect.
“We demand an independent and sovereign Republic of Niger Delta. We are tired of living with the North under Nigeria. We are tired of the President’s sentiments against the Niger Delta people.
“The President can have time to receive the Chibok girls but could not have time to meet with the representatives of the Niger Delta agitators. Our money has been used to fund Boko Haram, a problem created by the Northerners in order to use it as conduit pipe to siphon the resources of Niger Delta.
“On October 1, 2017 we shall declare our independence come rain, come shine. We shall take our destiny in our hands and free ourselves from the slavery of the North as they are tired of one Nigeria.
The communiqué was signed by ‘General’ John Duku (Niger Delta Watchdogs and Convener: Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators), ‘General’ Ekpo Ekpo (Niger Delta Volunteers), ‘General’ Osarolor Nedam (Niger Delta Warriors), and ‘Major-Gen.’ Henry Okon Etete (Niger Delta Peoples Fighters), ‘Major-Gen.’ Asukwo Henshaw (Bakassi Freedom Fighters), ‘Major-Gen.’ Ibinabo Horsfall (Niger Delta Movement for Justice), ‘Major-Gen.’ Duke Emmanson (Niger Delta Fighters Network), and ‘Major-Gen.’ Inibeghe Adams (Niger Delta Freedom Mandate).