Southern, Middle Belt leaders give terms for continued stay in Nigeria - SALIENT TIMES ONLINE

Southern, Middle Belt leaders give terms for continued stay in Nigeria

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By Our Correspondent


Leaders of Southern Nigeria and Middle-Belt, under the aegis of Nigerian Indigenous Nationalities Alliance for Self-Determination (NINAS), yesterday, set modalities to extricate their people from what they described as the “contraption called Nigeria.”


At a world press conference at New Bodija, Ibadan, Oyo State, Chairman of NINAS, Prof. Banji Akintoye, and other leaders of the group, comprised of indigenous nations and people of southern and Middle-Belt of Nigeria, complained of injustice in the country and contradictions in the polity and 1999 Constitution.

The press conference was organised at the expiration of a 90-day notice of grave constitutional grievances Issued by NINAS to the Federal Government on December 16, 2020.

Other leaders of the group who participated in the event include Tony Nnadi (Secretary), Prof. Mayowa Ogedengbe, and Chief Sunday Adeyemo (a.k.a Sunday Igboho).

Akintoye said: “As the distressed federation of Nigeria continues to wobble through what seems its terminal throes, it will be recalled that NINAS, aggregating the indigenous nations and peoples of southern and Middle- Belt of Nigeria, who have found themselves at the receiving end of a most vicious ethnic cleansing onslaught by heavily-armed invading Fulani militia, masquerading as ‘herdsmen’, formally declared a dispute with the federation of Nigeria as represented by the Federal Government of Nigeria via the constitutional force majure proclamation of December 16, 2020, in which it made a five-point demand upon the Federal Government of Nigeria to formally commence the remediation of the grave constitutional grievances enumerated in the said proclamation, within a period of 90 days beginning from midnight of December 16, 2020.

“The full text of the December 16 proclamation was published unedited as an advertorial in the January 20, 2021 edition of The Guardian on pages 38, 39, 40, and 41. Hard copies of the proclamation were also dispatched to the President of Nigeria, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, President of the Senate, Speaker of House of Representatives, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Conference of Speakers of State Assemblies, United Nations (UN), European Union (EU) and AU missions in Nigeria, ambassadors of United States, China, Russia, France, Germany, Belgium, and Japan to Nigeria; High Commissioners of the United Kingdom and Australia to Nigeria, ECOWAS Secretariat and other stakeholder institutions.

“We report to you now that at the expiration of the 90-day notice by the midnight of March 16, 2021, no formal contact was made with NINAS by the Federal Government of Nigeria and so we are gathered here today March 17, 2021, to inform our people, as well as the international community, what our next steps will be in our resolve to extricate ourselves from the death-trap and bondage unitary Nigeria has become for our various peoples.

“In refusing to step forward to the table of dialogue and in the characteristic arrogant disposition of the Federal Government of Nigeria, we call your attention to several knee-jerk, patch-work and bad-faith options the Federal Government of Nigeria chose to pursue in the desperation to once again evade the sovereignty question it had been evading since 1967, instead of embracing the comprehensive framework tabled by NINAS via the December 16, 2020 proclamation”.

Akintoye said NINAS interpreted the attempt to railroad the resolution of the grave constitutional grievances to the National Assembly as “a clear evasion of the fundamental sovereignty question relating to the deep distortions in our union agreement (Constitution) which must now be engaged by the constituent components of Nigeria whose sovereignties are currently hijacked and confiscated by the Nigerian state via the fraudulent 1999 Constitution.”

According to Akintoye, “This interpretation stems from the fact that the National Assembly, which itself, is a product of that constitution, had, a few months ago, acknowledged that it has no constitution-making powers as that power vests exclusively in the constituent component nationalities of Nigeria as an incident of their sovereignty.”

NINAS said it would amount to treason for the National Assembly or the executive arm of government to continue to “usurp the sovereignty of the peoples of Nigeria confiscated by the fraudulent 1999 Constitution which is already repudiated and rejected by the peoples of Nigeria, especially in the alliance territories as represented by NINAS.”

The NINAS chairman said: “In the invocation of our long-suppressed collective sovereignties, we hereby proclaim a constitutional force majeure, effective from midnight of 16th of December 2020, with a 90-day notice to the government of the federation of Nigeria, Security Council of the United Nations, the government of United States of America, European Union as well as the international community, of the intention of the peoples of the alliance territories to reconsider our continued allegiance to the disputed 1999 Constitution as well as the unitary union of death, attrition and backwardness it foists on us”.

NINAS, therefore, demanded:
• that the Federal Government should formally announce and acknowledge the “constitutional grievances and sovereignty dispute” declared by the peoples of the south and Middle-Belt.

• a formal commitment by the Federal Government to wholesale decommissioning and jettisoning of the 1999 Constitution as the basis of the federation of Nigeria as was done by the government of Apartheid-Era South Africa in 1990 to commence the process by which the Apartheid constitution of the then South Africa was eased out.

• a formal announcement by the Federal Government suspending further general elections under the disputed 1999 Constitution since winners of such elections will swear to, and governed by that constitution.

• a formal invitation to the peoples of the South and Middle-Belt of Nigeria to work out and emplace a transitional authority, which shall specify the modalities for the transitioning process, including the composition and mandate of the transitional authority as well as the time-frame for the transitioning and other ancillary matters.

• a formal initiation of a time-bound transitioning process to midwife the emergence of fresh constitutional protocols by a two-stage process in which the constituent regional blocs will, at the first stage, distill and Ratify their various constitutions by referendums and plebiscites, and in the second stage, negotiate the terms of federating afresh as may be dictated by the outcomes of referendum and plebiscites.

Akintoye declared: “By this proclamation, let it be known to all, including international money lenders, that Nigeria is now a disputed project and that while the constituent components commit to honouring existing international debt obligations, we caution that whatever obligations that may arise from any foreign loans contracted by the Federal Government of Nigeria from the date of this proclamation may come into controversy.

“Similarly, all loans contracted by the Federal Government, containing any clause that may cede the sovereignty of Nigeria or any part thereof in the event of repayment default shall be disputed as illicit, and in breach of the sovereignty of the federating units.

“We also invite politicians from the alliance territories and all political parties operating in the alliance territories, to take notice, that the 1999 Constitution by which the winner of any national elections in Nigeria will swear, and govern, is the very object of the sovereignty dispute we have just proclaimed, with a demand that further national elections premised upon that repudiated constitution, be deferred forthwith, for the purpose of first reworking the damaged constitutional basis of Nigeria”.

While setting out the modalities for transition, Akintoye said: “For the avoidance of doubt, the NINAS proclamation of constitutional dispute on December 16th, 2020 terminated the life of the fraudulent 1999 Constitution of Nigeria and, therefore, restored our sovereignty that was confiscated by that constitution. What we are doing today is to outline the processes and modality for the necessary and orderly transition to our full self-determination and sovereignty in the world.”