Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the largest sociocultural organisation of the Igbo people, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari's administration to detain and charge Mahdi Shehu for saying that northern Nigerians should not support Peter Obi, the Labour Party's (LP) presidential candidate.
A Katsina-based activist named Shehu claimed last week that supporting Obi in the 2023 presidential race is the same as supporting Biafra.
Shehu's comments have drawn criticism from Nigerians, but Ohanaeze called them "distasteful, mischievous, provocative, combustible and potential of igniting ethno-religious tensions across the country" in a statement on Friday.
This was disclosed in the statement titled ‘2023: the likes of Mahdi Shehu should be confined’ signed by the National Publicity Secretary of the group, Dr Alex Ogbonnia.
Ohanaeze called on the Federal Government to arrest and prosecute Shehu to serve a warning to other ethnic bigots in the country.
The statement partly read, “The attention of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide has been drawn to a video clip that has gone viral, propagated by one Mallam Mahdi Shehu, a Katsina-based activist, to the effect that a vote to Mr Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party for the 2023 general election, is a vote for Biafra.
“In the video, he also alleged that a vote for Obi is synonymous with the destruction of the North. He asked his listeners what they stand to gain by voting Obi, a southerner, etc.
“After listening to the video clip, I was shocked that such a narrow-minded ethnic bigot that holds tenaciously to the grudges of the past is still in our midst in this millennium.
“The uncivilized remarks by Mahdi Shehu are not only disingenuous but out-rightly, distasteful, mischievous, provocative, incendiary and capable of igniting ethno-religious tensions across the country.
“Persons that harbour such despicable thoughts and mindsets are the pernicious cancerous social incubus which has for long held Nigeria down.
“The Ohanaeze Ndigbo calls on the federal government of Nigeria to arrest, prosecute and ultimately confine Mallam Mahdi Shehu in a prison to serve as a deterrent to other ethnic inflammatory chauvinists.
“If such a deep ethnic jingoism is allowed to play out in the oncoming campaigns, then the fledgling wing of the eagle may be irredeemably broken.”