The Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the Pan-Niger Delta Forum, Afenifere and the Middle Belt Forum have berated the Northern Elders Forum for alleging that northerners were being killed in the South.
They described the allegations as false.
According to the southern and middle belt socio-political groups, it is actually Fulani herdsmen that kidnap, kill and rape host communities, while President Muhammadu Buhari looks the other way.
Bashir Tofa, the Chairman of Kano Elders Forum, had in a statement on Tuesday warned that southerners in the north could be attacked and difficult to control if the alleged killings of northerners continues in the south.
“We observed that innocent people are being attacked just for being Fulani, that’s unacceptable, we also established that a lot of them in Oyo, Ondo and in some part of the east in the last two days have been threatened and attacked, a lot of cattle have been killed, so we advised the Fulani to seek protection and leave.” Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, the NEF Director of Publicity and Advocacy, stated this on Wednesday while speaking on Channels TV Politics Today programme.
“Tension is beginning to brew, and if revenge attacks on southerners begin here in the North, it will be difficult to control.” Tofa said.
Afenifere in a statement through its spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, stated that; “The Northern elders have not shown the kind of responsibility expected of them over the activities of their people in the South. Have their people been killing cows and not human beings?… we must see their humanity on the killings in the south by their kinsmen first.”
The Ohanaeze Ndigbo in its reaction said that the NEF position on the issue was strange and unfortunate.
Chief Alex Ogbonnia, the spokesman for Ohanaeze, urged NEF to use its position to call on the Presidency to heed the persistent calls by host communities to save them from the menace caused by killer herdsmen.
“The herdsmen/host community crisis in Nigeria has been a topical issue since over five years ago. The affected communities have appealed to relevant authorities to intervene to avoid degeneration into more awful situation.
“The farmers have repeatedly cried out. The women of the host communities are violated and debauched on a daily basis by the herders. The Federal Government in response has even contemplated Ruga as one of the options to curtail the crisis. It is therefore very strange that the Northern Elders’ Forum will not live by their name as elders. They have turned round to allege that the southerners are attacking the northerners. This is a contradiction.
“The NEF should be in position to call on the Presidency to heed the persistent calls by the host communities to save them from the menace caused by the herders.”
The Middle Belt Forum in its reaction urged the northern elders to desist from making inciting statements capable of setting Nigeria on fire.
The group urged the NEF to advise the Federal Government to protect Nigerians and fish out those causing security breach anywhere in the nation.
Dr. Isuwa Dogo, the spokesman for the Middle Belt, in an interview with Punch said; “Where has it been verified that northerners are being attacked in the south just like that or is it the general insecurity in the country? There is a difference between a deliberate attack targeted at certain people and when there is a security breach by criminals. Those threatening retaliation should learn to distinguish between the two and stop inciting violence between southerners and northerners because if there is retaliation, there will be counter-retaliation which will lead the country to nowhere.”
Ken Robinson, the spokesman for PANDEF, said that the NEF failed to call the killer herdsmen to order.
He noted that all ethnic groups must be treated equally and urged those in power to steer affairs of the nation without bias.
“The fact is that you know the comments and reactions by the Kano group and the northern elders’ forum clearly demonstrate the attitude of arrogance and false security complex that are being displayed by these group of people.
“When these marauders, parading as herdsmen across southern states and the Middle Belt of Nigeria, went about killing innocent Nigerians, raping women and destroying farmlands, livelihood of our people, they didn’t make comments, they didn’t warn them.
“When Miyetti Allah, a trade group, cattle rearers relegated themselves and began to conduct themselves as if they were the lords of Nigeria and make provocative and vexatious statements, nobody called them to order or cautioned that what they were doing was going to cause problems because people were bound to react.
“There is no way people will allow their loved ones to be killed or molested, their livelihood destroyed and they will continue to fold their hands and watch these things happen.
“Now that government of the southern states are beginning to pick up courage and react and do what they are supposed to do and our people are standing up to their rights against these awful killings and these criminal gangs parading as herdsmen, they (northern elders) have started to make statements that clearly show they were tolerating or perhaps accommodating the criminal activities of these so-called Fulani herdsmen.
“So, their statements are condemnable. They are most unfortunate. We want Nigeria to continue to exist as a united country based on equity, fairness and justice. Not a country where anybody feel that he is superior to others.
“We want a Nigeria where everybody feels that he belongs to Nigeria and those who have been charged with the powers and authorities to conduct the affairs of state should conduct those affairs in such a manner and way to show that they are not partial, they are not nepotic or biased against any section of the country or any ethnic group, and that all the ethnic groups are equal. That is the position of PANDEF,” he said (as seen on The Punch).
Ibrahim Kenneth Suleiman is the Chief Political Editor at Naija Buzz News Network. He is a graduate of political science from the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Kaduna State. He specializes in preparing/approving of political news contents before publication. He currently heads Naija Buzz News team of political correspondents. From Nasarawa State, North-Central Nigeria, Ibrahim is a strong supporter of Manchester United Football Club England.