•Tofa warns against reprisals
By Chuks Okocha, Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja and John Shiklam in Kaduna
The Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF) has advised law-abiding Fulani communities to seek protection where it is available, and resist the temptation to take the law into their hands.
It also warned those attacking law-abiding Fulani communities, particularly in some parts of the South, to desist from such.
This is coming as the presidential candidate of the National Republican Convention (NRC) in the 1993 presidential election, Mr. Bashi Othman Tofa, has alleged that tension was brewing in the North over what he described as attacks on the Fulani communities in the South, warning that any attack on Southerners in the North would be difficult to control.
In a statement yesterday in Kaduna, NEF’s Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, expressed concern over what he called reports of ejections and attacks on law-abiding Fulani herders in some states.
The forum called on President Muhammadu Buhari and state governors to protect law-abiding Fulani communities from killers and criminals who think that Fulani have no rights in Nigeria.
It said it has been receiving reports of attacks on Fulani communities in the South “since the night of Sunday, January 31, and had taken the responsible step by drawing the attention of authorities to the dangers, which these attacks represent for all Nigerians.”
NEF expressed concern over reports of ejections and attacks on Fulani herders and communities in some states of the South.
It urged Fulani to resist the temptation to take the law into their hands.
“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 is 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,” the NEF said.
It added that citizens and groups who play the role of police and other law-enforcement agencies are committing crimes and must be stopped by leaders who have sworn to protect the law and security of all Nigerians.
“There are criminals in all ethnic groups, and the nation will be treading dangerous grounds if it continues to tolerate the demonisation of entire groups over particular types of crimes,” it stated.
The forum demanded the arrest and prosecution of Fulani attackers.
The forum reiterated its earlier position that “the Fulani will not be ejected from any Nigerian community only on the basis of being Fulani or herding cattle within the limits of laws and regulations.”
The NEF acknowledged that states, which seek to limit criminal activities, are perfectly entitled to do so, but they must follow due process and avoid exposing innocent citizens to danger.
“The forum demands that the Nigeria Police must live up to its 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.
It urged Northern governors to prepare to receive Fulani communities being ejected and appealed to 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.
“Persons who inflame passions by circulating videos and other materials should also desist.
“The forum hopes that Nigerians will see firm, fair and responsible leadership from all elected leaders without delay,” it stated.
Tofa Warns against Reprisals
The presidential candidate of the NRC in the 1993 presidential election, Alhaji Bashir Tofa, has said tension is brewing in the North over what he described as attacks on the Fulani communities in the South.
Tofa, in a statement, yesterday, condemned the alleged killings and maiming of Northerners, especially the Fulani, in some other parts of the country.
“There is clearly a nefarious plan by the enemies of this potentially great country to initiate a violent crisis that may lead to its destruction. Tension is beginning to brew, and if revenge attacks on Southerners begin here in the North, it will be difficult to control. Our enemies from within and outside, some well-known by our security agencies, are more determined than ever to set us against each other, so that we may get to a point of no return when the conflagration begins. There is no part of this country that is at peace.
“I, therefore, call on the president to take this insecurity and the tribal lynching happening very seriously and put up urgent measures to deal with them without any more delays. I am sure, there is a concern at the presidency and discussions are being held.
“But, urgent and decisive action is now necessary. If any Nigerian will not be allowed to live freely and conduct their lives and businesses in any part of the country without being disturbed or molested or even killed, then no one should be allowed to settle and prosper anywhere else.
“If that were to be the case, then, we have no country. That is how serious it is. And that is what our enemies desire. We must not allow them by our inaction. Those foolish leaders and their stupid hirelings who encourage the expulsion of other Nigerians from their states should remember that their own indigenes also live in other parts. They must stop, or the law should stop them, by all means, necessary,” he said.