The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) and the Coalition of the Northern Groups have again stirred the hornet’s nest, ordering Fulani herders to immediately vacate the Southern parts of the country and return to the north as their security in the south can no lager be guaranteed.
The two groups claimed that it was worrisome that Southern leaders have openly threatened war against the Fulani herders, claiming that their worry led to their call for the Fulani herdsmen to return home where their safety is assured.
Addressing newsmen on Tuesday night after a meeting group the Coalition of Northern Groups demanded relocation of all the Fulanis back to the north, a position supported by Chairman of the Northern Elders Forum, Prof Ango Abdullahi.
The former Presidential Adviser on Food Security said the demand 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.
He said: “We are worried about their well-being. If it is true that their safety can no longer be, 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 and not at the expense of other section.”
Abdullahi, however, called for the establishment of a judicial commission of enquiry to determine the quantum of properties lost by herdsmen and farmers and compensation due to each of the warring parties.
Spokesperson of the Coalition of Northern Groups, Abdul-Aziz Sulaiman who presented their position to the elders said southern governors had on 9th July jointly agreed to stop the unhindered movement of herders and cattle in all the southern states.
He claimed that the governors arrogated to themselves the powers to decide which category of herdsmen will be allowed to live in the South and others they tagged criminal elements.
According to him, the situation was worsened after a section of the southern leadership introduced a fresh round of instigations by indiscriminately blaming the death of the daughter of the Afenifere leader Fashoranti on the Fulani herdsmen and threatened reprisals on northerners contrary to on the spot account of her driver and the official explanation by the police that the culprits were yet to be identified.
He said “throwing caution to the winds, Gani Adams, Fani Kayode, Yinka Odumakin and a host of other southern regionalists shamelessly insisted on changing the narratives around the killing of the Fashoranti 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 Fashoranti 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 Mambila 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 the previous project 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, and the fact that the instigation of hatred against the Fulani persists, we feel obliged to advice 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.”