By Adedayo Akinwale
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has expressed worry over reports of ejection and attacks on Fulani herders, families and communities in some states of the south.
It warned that those ejecting Fulani herdsmen in the states in the south should desist from doing so.
The Forum’s Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, in a statement issued Tuesday, said the Forum had been receiving reports since January 31, and has taken the responsible step by drawing the attention of authorities to the dangers which the attacks represent for all Nigerians.
The Forum, therefore, called on President Muhammadu Buhari and state governors to take immediate and decisive steps to protect law-abiding members of Fulani communities from killers and criminals who apparently believe that Fulani have no rights in Nigeria.
The Forum said it has also advised law-abiding Fulani communities to seek protection where it is available, and appealed to other Fulani to resist the temptation to take the law into their own hands.
It stated: “It is necessary to warn people who threaten law-abiding Fulani communities in all parts of Nigeria, but particularly in some parts of the south, to desist.
“The vast majority of Fulani are law-abiding and have rights to live lawfully wherever they can find means of subsistence. Like all Nigerians who can be found in every inch of Nigeria, the rights of the Fulani will not be abridged by criminals hiding behind ethnic interests to exterminate them.
“Citizens and groups who play the role of police and other law-enforcement agencies are committing crimes, and they must be stopped by leaders who are sworn to protect the law and security of all Nigerians.”
The Forum reminded the nation that there are criminals in all ethnic groups, and the nation would be treading dangerous grounds if it continues to tolerate the demonization of entire groups over particular types of crimes.
The NEF called for the immediate arrest and prosecution of persons who are attacking Fulani and setting the country on a very dangerous path.
The Forum reiterated that the Fulani would not be ejected from any Nigerian community only on the basis of being Fulani or herding cattle within the limits of laws and regulations.
It added that states, which sought to limit criminal activities, are perfectly entitled to do so, but they must follow due process and avoid exposing innocent citizens to danger at all cost.
The Forum also called on the Nigeria Police to live up to their constitutional responsibility to detect crimes and arrest and prosecute criminals, whoever they are.
“No politician has the right to outsource the work of the police to local thugs and gangs. If communities in parts of the country insist that the lawful Fulani is unwelcome and has no right to their security, then the Forum will advise them to relocate to the north,” it said.
The Forum called on northern governors to move urgently to prepare to receive Fulani communities being forcefully ejected.
The northern elders appealed to all Nigerians to exercise restraint and not to play into the hands of people who desire to achieve dubious political goals by pitting citizens against each other.
It said persons who inflame passions by circulating videos and other materials should also desist.