Nigeria’s deteriorating security situation took a turn for the worse Tuesday night in Abuja with the Northern Elders Forum NEF and the Coalition of the Northern Groups CNGs ordering Fulani herdsmen to leave the Southern parts of the country and return to the north where their safety and those of their cows are guaranteed.
While the northern bodies expressed lamentation on what they described as war threats by Southern leaders against the Fulani herders, they said the safety of the herdsmen is very important.
Addressing a news conference late Tuesday after a meeting of the NEF with the CNGs in Abuja, where the youths demanded the relocation of all the Fulanis back to the north, the NEF’s Chairman, Prof Ango Abdullahi said the elders are in support of the position of the youths saying it was borne out of the realization that the lives of Fulani herders have been put at risk due to the actions and utterances of Southern Governors in recent days.
“We are worried about their wellbeing. If it is true that their safety can no longer be guaranteed, we rather have them back in areas where their safety is guaranteed. The bottom line is that their safety is far more important than their stay there. This is a country we all wish to keep together but not at the expense of other section”, he declared.
NEF also advocated the establishment of a judicial enquiry to determine the quantum of loss of properties by herdsmen and farmers and compensation paid to the warring parties.
CNG’s spokesperson, Abdul-Aziz Sulaiman who presented the position of the Northern youths to the elders stated that the southern governors had on July 9 jointly agreed to stop the unhindered movement of herders and cattle in all the southern states.
He also said that “the governors even arrogated to themselves powers to decide which category of herdsmen can be allowed to live in the South and others whom they tagged as criminal elements.
He further stated that the situation was worsened after a section of the southern leadership had introduced a fresh round of instigations by indiscriminately blaming the death of the daughter of the Afenifere leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti on the Fulani and threatening reprisals on northerners contrary to on the spot account of her own driver and the official explanation by the police that the culprits were yet to be identified.
He noted: “Throwing caution to the wind, Gani Adams, Fani Kayode, Yinka Odumakin and a host of other southern regionalists shamelessly insisted on changing the narratives around killing of the Fasoranti lady. In the process, they threatened all forms of violations and breaches against northerners including the threat of an all-out war.
“With all these statements and steps taken by the southern governors and opinion leaders, we are worried that none of the northern governors or federal official has deemed it apt to caution them.
“The failure or neglect of the police to trace a connection between the Fasoranti murder and the seeming prearranged conduct of Fani Kayode, Odumakin and Adams by their haste to shift the blame in order to render the Fulani object of attack is certainly suspicious.
“We are concerned about the sincerity of the federal government in implementing the NLTP going by the manner previous efforts at executing development projects like the Mambilla hydro-electric power project and several initiatives on the herdsmen dilemma were invariably stalled.
“We are equally worried that the NLTP is vested in the office of the vice president that is believed to have frustrated previous projects meant for the north.
“We find it difficult to trust the commitments of this government which has for the past four years failed to execute any positive initiative towards resolving the herders problems nor shown any encouraging concern for the dilemma of the Fulani who have been attacked in various states.
“Based on the above observations sir, and the fact that the instigation of hatred against the Fulani persists, we feel obliged to advise the leadership of the Northern Elders Forum to consider calling on the Fulani to forego their right to live and flourish anywhere in the south and relocate to their various states in the north to ensure their safety noting the inherent return value of such denial”, the CNGs submitted.
I would be recalls that the Coalition of the Northern Groups had given the federal government 30 days ultimatum to implement the Ruga policy for herdsmen settlement.