A former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba has declared that there is no basis to call for the arrest of some Arewa youths over the October 1 quit notice they issued to Ndigbo leaving in northern Nigeria.
Speaking when he addressed newsmen addressed in his office in Lagos on “The future of Nigeria”, Agbakoba also expressed his opposition to the popular demand for restructuring of Nigeria.
According to him, there is no legal basis to arrest the groups of northern youths who ordered Ndigbo to quit the North on or before October 1.
He noted that while political wise it was incorrect for the Arewa youths to give the vacation order, that they did not commit any crime legally speaking.
“They just said, ‘leave our place,’ that ’s all . It ’s not in the criminal code that if I tell a man to leave my house I have committed a crime. I have a right to tell you, this is my house, leave. It’s politically incorrect to tell the Igbo to leave but I don’ t see any crime. And let ’s be clear, we should not make this thing sound legalistic … it is political,” he said.
The senior lawyer said that the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Leader Nnamdi Kanu’s demand for self-determination and call for referendum to achieve same is ‘absolutely’ lawful.
Agbakoba therefore argued that Acting President Yemi Osinbajo was wrong in his position that Nigeria ’s sovereignty was not negotiable.
According to him, Kanu’s call for self -determination was not unlawful as it is justified in Article 1 (2 ) of the United Nations Charter and Article 20 ( 1 ) of the African Charter of Human and Peoples Rights, to which Nigeria is a signatory.
He then called on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency put in place a process that will warrant deliberation on the continued existence of Nigeria as a sovereign entity.
Agbakoba, insisted that restructuring was not the road map to federalism.
According to him, “I see every politician now says restructure but I disagree. I also think the acting President was wrong to say that Nigeria is insoluble. There is nothing sacrosanct about Nigeria . It can blow up anytime. It ’s an artificial creation, which was made in 1914 and when it was amalgamated we were not there. It was amalgamated in the interest of the colonialists”.
Noting that the Federal Government was wrong to have charged Kanu with treasonable felony for seeking self- determination, he said, “For me, the best that he can be charged with is unlawful assembly and an act capable of breaching public peace. Those are the things he can be charged with, but not treason; because Nigeria is a signatory to the United Nations’ Charter, which recognises the right for self -determination.”
On whether he supported IPOB demand for referendum towards self- determination, Agbakoba answered, “Absolutely! What is sacrosanct about Nigeria? Nothing. What is sacrosanct about Nigeria is our agreement to be part of Nigeria . I’m not suggesting that Nigeria should not exist but to say that Nigeria’s sovereignty is not negotiable, nobody should talk about it.”
The legal luminary regretted that it was unfortunate that since 1914 when amalgamation was thrust on the people, there had not been any home – grown process to resolve the will of the people to co-exist.
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