Don’t inflame passion, Afenifere tells northern elders
By Deji Elumoye and Adedayo Akinwale
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has raised the alarm of what it described as deliberate targeting of northerners in many parts of the South in Nigeria, with alleged reported killings, destruction and stealing of their assets and other assaults which had been going on for many days.
But in a swift reaction, the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, urged the NEF not to make statements capable of causing crisis in the country.
Afenifere’s spokesman, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, told THISDAY yesterday that “our friends in NEF should please be more careful about statements that can inflame passion.
“We make this appeal not out of fear but a deep sense of responsibility and the understanding of the place of elders. Our utterances should bring calm at this delicate period.”
However, NEF’s Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, in a statement issued yesterday, therefore, called on leaders at all levels in the country to work towards lowering tension, improving inter-community relations and isolating elements that seek to plunge the country into deeper crises.
The forum said it had resisted the pressure to raise the alarm earlier at these ‘unacceptable acts of hostility’ against Nigerians living and earning legitimate livelihood peacefully in many communities in the South, out of concern that doing so would further cause or worsen a major national crisis.
The NEF said it was aware that governors, security agencies and communities in many states in the South are aware of the widespread assaults on northerners, adding that many people in the north are understandably concerned by the plight of family members who have lost lives and assets and are living in fear.
The Forum however drew the attention of the country to the existence of millions of Nigerians from the southern part of the country living in peace in Northern communities, adding that these are Nigerians who are valued and whose rights are respected in the communities they live.
The forum advised northerners living in the South to stay put and continue to pursue their livelihood.