The Nigeria police force and other security agencies are still on the search for the sponsors of the 16 Northern youth groups that issued an October 1 quit notice to Igbo living in the North, it was disclosed yesterday.
A covert profiling of the youth groups and their sponsors has been going on in the last three weeks.
But the arrest of leaders of the youth groups has been put on hold following intelligence report that their sponsors may have planned to set the nation on fire.
It was learnt that Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai was awaiting a briefing from the police and security agencies on why they had not arrested the youths.
A top security source said the police and other security agencies were trailing suspected sponsors of the Northern youths.
The agencies are said to be of the opinion that it is better to “get to the root of the hate crisis” rather than just arresting the youth leaders.
Another source privy to the ongoing investigation said: “We are searching for the sponsors of these youths and we are closing in on them gradually. Part of the intelligence report we received was a plot to use the arrest of the youths to trigger off spontaneous attacks in the North.
“The police and security agencies, however, beat the plotters to their game by staying action on the arrest of the youths. Besides, the Ramadan period could be volatile in the North.
“The activities of these youths were partly politically-induced and ethnically-motivated. This is why we are trying to unmask the sponsors and why they will prefer to set the nation on fire.
“They also have a few others suspected to be bankrolling these youths.”
The source added: “We are already conducting the profiling of all the 16 groups, their patrons and past activities. We are closing in on their sponsors
“No doubt, the boys who issued the quit notice are known; they are not above the law but we will not arrest them now based on the intelligence at our disposal
“It is better to dig deeper than doing a hasty job. Even the political authority prefers a cautious approach to the matter.
“We know the right thing to do but the police and security agencies cannot operate in isolation of the larger picture before the political leadership.”
The source also said the police and security agencies were being proactive before any clampdown.
All police commands and security agencies have been directed to strengthen surveillance and security for the Igbo in the North.
The quit notice was designed to cause mayhem and create sudden security challenges in the North.
“At the appropriate time, the law will take its course on any group or individual trying to set the nation on fire,” a security source said.
Asked what has been done, the source added: “We have placed all the 16 youths on special monitoring.”
El-Rufai has not received the report from the police and security agencies on why the youths have not been arrested, according to a source who said: They had not given any reason for not arresting the boys.
“The position of the governor is that the youths must be arrested. It is dangerous to leave these boys because we don’t know what will play out on or before October 1,” the source said.
Sixteen youth groups, under the aegis of the Coalition of Northern Youths, on June 6 gave the Igbo up to October 1 to vacate the three geopolitical zones in the North.
Some of the youth organisations at the Kaduna meeting are Arewa Citizens Action for Change, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Arewa Youth Development Foundation, Arewa Students Forum and Northern Emancipation Network on the Igbo Persistence for Secession.