The Co-Convener of the Coalition of Northern Groups and leader of Arewa Consultative Youth Forum, Shettima Yerima, has accused human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN, of living in the past, following the latter’s statement implying that the former should not be taken seriously.
Falana had on Thursday at a news conference in Abuja described Yerima as a “Lagos man.”
“The man who gave quit notice (to Igbo living in the North) does not live in the North. He lives in Lagos. I am saying this: Shettima Yerima lives in Lagos. He is a Lagos man. So, to live in Lagos and be giving quit notice is not the answer,” he had said.
Reacting to the human rights lawyer’s statement on Friday night, Yerima told SUNDAY PUNCH that Falana was only seeking cheap publicity.
“The Shettima Falana knows in Lagos is not the same person in the North. I challenge him to come to Kaduna and ask about who I am. And I challenge him to go to Ekiti to contest a local government seat. I am for and with the North. I am not a coward. I am protecting the interests of my people and I get support from my elders. Falana is living in the past. I spend more time in the North than in Lagos.
“And, when did it become a crime that a northerner cannot issue a statement in the North though he stays in Lagos? I am a Nigerian. Shouldn’t Falana be castigating the man who said he hates Nigerians and doesn’t want his people to remain a part of Nigeria? I am in touch with my people. I have followers; does Falana have supporters? How many times has he contested elections in Ekiti State and lost? Despite his level of intelligence he hasn’t won an election in his state. Leading your people is not about propaganda and noise-making; it is about facing reality.”
The activist added that he had the support of northern elders in issuing a quit notice to the Igbo living in the North, noting that it is not a threat.
Urging Falana to focus more on the main issue, Yerima said, “As I speak to you now I am in Kaduna. Is there a law that says being a Nigerian I cannot do so? While he’s busy pursuing personal interests, I am defending my people against the insults and blackmail of one Igbo called Nnamdi Kanu and his co-travellers. What has Falana done about the insults IPOB heaped on the Yoruba? He is seeking cheap publicity.
“I challenge him to come and see how I am living as a king in Kaduna – I am being celebrated. I am here to defend the integrity of my people. Does he consider Nnamdi Kanu a foreigner – someone who has lived for many years abroad? I have my roots in Zaria and I go home regularly. When last did Falana visit his home in Ekiti?”