Politics

Stop attacking innocent Fulani herdsmen, criminal elements should not be used to tar an ethnic group – Northern Governors tells Southern Nigeria

North-West Governors

The Northern Governors Forum (NGF) has called the south to stop attack on Fulani herdsmen in the region.

The governors said innocent herders should not be vilified, and let those found wanting be handed over to law enforcement agency.

Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, who is the Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, expressed sadness over the recent events against Fulani herders in the south, saying they were against the peace move by the NGF.

He described the intervention of Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State in Akure, Ondo State, as commendable.

Fayemi who is the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum met with stakeholders in the Ondo State capital following the 7-day ultimatum issued to herdsmen in the Ondo Forest.

“While such intervention was celebrated as a success to be sustained through further engagement between herdsmen and representatives of affected communities, emerging reports of attacks on herders and the gradual introduction of ethnic sentiments in the conflict is disturbing and should immediately be nipped in the bud before it gets out of hand.

“The Northern Governors Forum concedes to the rights of Nigerians to reside wherever they so desire without any molestation or discrimination.

“The criminal elements should not be used to tar any particular ethnic group for any crime as that will portend danger to peaceful coexistence and national unity.

“Rather, such criminal elements should be exposed, isolated and made to face the law of the land without prejudice to their ethnic backgrounds as the motives or criminal actions cannot be said to be the position of their ethnic group.

“In the face of the recent worrisome developments, therefore, the Northern Governors Forum calls for calm and cautions Nigerians particularly those in the affected areas who might have been aggrieved or targeted to exercise restraint,” the statement said.

Governor Lalong said that the country was already going through a lot, adding that the escalating tensions would aggravate the situation.

He called on leaders across political, ethnic, religious and community lines to avoid utterances and actions that would further promote distrust, hate, violence and retaliation which can easily escalate the situation and cause chaos.

He equally called on government officials, traditional rulers and opinion moulders to also “rise and speak with one voice by not only condemning crime no matter who is involved but also sending the right signals to those who want to take the laws into their hands and trample on the Nigerian Constitution by attempting to deny others the rights to live and pursue their legitimate business in whatever place they choose to reside.

“Security agencies must also be firm and rise to the occasion by protecting all law-abiding citizens against the threat to their lives and properties irrespective of their ethnic or other affiliations.

“They should also send a clear and unambiguous message to those threatening the peace that they will act decisively to stop them from plunging the nation to anarchy.

“The Northern Governors Forum further assures Nigerians of all ethnic, religious and political persuasions of their constitutional rights to pursue their legitimate businesses wherever they choose within the region and appeal to the people to resist any attempt to lure them into any activity that can threaten the peace and tranquillity of the region and the nation at large,” the statement added.

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