Human rights lawyer and senior advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Femi Falana, has said Shettima Yerima, leader of the northern coalition of youths that issued a quit notice to the Igbo, does not reside in the north but in Lagos state.
Speaking at a news conference in Abuja on Thursday, the human rights activist described Yerima as a “Lagos man”.
“The man who is giving quit notice does not live in the north; he lives in Lagos. I am saying this, Shettima Yerima lives in Lagos. He is a Lagos man. So to live in Lagos and be giving quit notice is not the answer,” he said.
Falana also criticised Ango Abdullahi for backing the quit order, and urged Nigerians to “look at those things that tie us together and not those ones that the ruling class are using to divide our people”.
“On May 23, 1986, four young people were killed at the Ahmadu Bello University. I am saying this because somebody has said we are supporting this quit notice. Prof. Ango Abdullahi was the Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University.
“When those students were killed by the police, he came out and said only four students were killed. That angered Nigerians, particularly Nigerian students, and there were protests. One of the universities where that protest was very successful was the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
“The man who led that protest was the late Chima Ubani. The state did not like that there was a national protest against the killing of students. The government did not arrest people in the North; they did not arrest students who were demonstrating in the West.”
Falana added: “Poverty is the same all over the country; injustice is injustice all over. So, there is no nation without challenges and there is no nation without problems. It is the ability of a nation to rise to the challenge that matters,” he said.
He called for a more concrete conversation on restructuring and federalism.
He said the vocal proponents of both issues are merely showboating and not really keen on them.
“Those who are talking about restructuring, many of them are talking in the air. We must concretise this now. You can’t have political restructuring without economic restructuring. If you are talking about restructuring, you can’t be selling the assets of the country to individuals,” he said.
“Those who are talking of restructuring and federalism are not interested in these areas. But we must all remind them that the Awolowos, the Ahmadu Bellos and the Azikiwes of this world addressed social services for our people. That is no longer the case. So, please this talk about restructuring and federalism must be concretised.
“You can’t be going to Abuja every month to take money and yet, you are talking of true federalism. True federalism means you must produce what you need in your area and then, we can ask everybody to pay tax.”
THE CABLE, THE NATION