The Muslim fundamentalist sect, Boko Haram, has given Christians and southerners living in northern Nigeria, a three-day ultimatum to leave the area or face the consequences.

A spokesman for the sect, Abul Qada, who spoke to journalists on Sunday night, also stated that soldiers deployed by President Goodluck Jonathan to enforce a state of emergency he declared on Saturday in some parts of four northern states would be targeted.

“We find it pertinent to state that soldiers will only kill innocent Muslims in the local government areas where the state of emergency was declared,” he told journalists in a phone conference late Sunday.

“We would confront them squarely to protect our brothers.”

Speaking in Hausa language, Qaqa said: “we also wish to call on our fellow Muslims to come back to the north because we have evidence that they would be attacked.

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“We are also giving a three-day ultimatum to the southerners living in the northern part of Nigeria to move away.”

Qaqa also criticised Jonathan for visiting a Catholic church outside Abuja on Saturday.

“The President had never visited any of the theatres where Muslims were massacred,” he said, naming areas where scores of Muslims were killed in post-election riots in April.

Muslims have been victims of Boko Haram attacks, but a wave of Christmas day bombings particularly targeting churches set off fears of retaliation from Christians.

President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency on Saturday in 15 local government areas in four states hard hit by violence blamed on Boko Haram.

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The declaration came in response to scores of attacks attributed to Boko Haram, particularly the bombings on Christmas Day that killed 49 people, most of them in a gruesome blast at a Catholic church as services were ending.

Prof. Pat Utomi has condemned the threat by Boko Haram and called on Muslim leaders to condemn it as well.

“I urge the Islamic community especially the leadership of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs to take the lead in condemning this unpatriotic and dangerous threat to national unity from a group that has already tested the patience of the Nigerian people.

“And this should be a lesson to political parties never to use regional affiliations to promote political agendas because these could be hijacked by groups with sectional motives. I say this because these tendencies were fed by the activities of politicians who during the run up to the April general elections pushed for Southern/Northern candidates instead of promoting a Nigerian candidate,” he said.

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— Simon Ateba