The South-East Governors’ Forum has called on Northern leaders and other stakeholders to advise youths in the region to desist from making inflammatory statements that could heat up the polity.
The forum made the call on Thursday in Abakaliki in a statement signed by Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State, its Chairman.
The statement was in reaction to an ultimatum by 16 Northern youth associations demanding that Igbos resident in the north leave before October 1.
The groups also urged Northern residents in the South-East to return to the north within the period.
The governors said that they had carefully considered the contents of the ultimatum and reflected on its implications for Igbos specifically and Nigeria as a viable and sovereign nation.
The statement said: “The lives and properties of law-abiding citizens of Igbo extraction are as precious as the lives and properties of all Nigerians, irrespective of the region of their abode within this republic.
“Their lives and properties must be guaranteed and defended against all forms of threat both domestic and external by security forces and agencies.”
They said they were collaborating with security agencies to ensure the safety of all law-abiding Nigerian residents in the zone, including northerners.
Umahi urged Igbos in the north to go about their lawful businesses without fear of intimidation or molestation.
They thanked the Federal Government, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, Northern States Governors’ Forum and security agencies for speaking against the ultimatum.
It added: “We have repeatedly reiterated our commitment and preference for the existence of a virile, united, prosperous and peaceful Nigeria where justice, fairness, equity, mutual respect among others will reign supreme.”