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Yoruba, Northern elders in war of words over Fulani herdsmen

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The Nothern Elders Forum (NEF) on Friday accused the Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE) of responsible for endless insecurity in Nigeria as a result of their complaint of genocide, each time government tries to tackle criminals.

Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba Ahmed in a statement on Friday which was made to journalists in Abuja accused Yoruba Council of Elders and other similar groups of frustrating governments by making unfounded allegations of genicide to the international community.

He said the Southern group has been so reckless in their futile pursuit of genocide case in Nigeria, which they claimed was being perpetrated by one ethnic group against another to the extent that they lobbied international community.

On herdsmen, NEF said: “We repeat our demand that Fulani who have broken no laws must be protected from abuse wherever they are.

“We ask all governments to identify criminals among the Fulani and subject them to the laws of the land.

“Similarly, we demand the cessation of threats and attacks by local ethnic defenders on Fulani communities. “People who have broken the law by attacking and harassing Fulani for just being Fulani must be brought to book.

“We encourage all law-abiding herders to stay put and seek protection, and if they cannot be protected, to relocate to safer areas in the country.

“We urge northern governors to prepare to receive law-abiding Fulani herders who may be compelled to relocate. We urge all northerners to assure Nigerians from other parts of the country that they are safe and welcome to continue to stay in the north.

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“The Forum repeats: it is not a crime to be member of any ethnic group, and no one has the right to attempt to expel any Nigerian from places where they live lawfully.”

According to the statement, the latest communication by the Yoruba Council of Elders to the United Nations is an example of lamentable desperation of some groups to erode our security and integrity as a country, and it is more regrettable that it is the handiwork of so-called elders who should forfeit all rights to that honour.”

Reacting to the Northern Elders Forum’s statement, Dr. Kunle Olajide described NEF’s assertion as reckless, noting that “it no wonder, they kept quiet in the obvious killing and maiming of people in the South West by Fulani herdsmen.”

Dr. Olajide of the YCE in a statement declared that Yoruba people were more patriotic and committed to Nigeria where there was social justice and equity and not the opaque type of governnent that is presently in place.

He said: “In the last three to four years, it actually started in 2016, the criminal herders have been so brazen in their invasion of Yorubaland, carrying sophisticated weapons, raping our women, kidnapping for ransom and murdering our people, destroying farmlands; the economic means of survival of our farmers.

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“We have been shouting at the rooftops almost on a daily basis and the Federal Government seems to turn deaf ears to these complaints, giving gross insensitivity to the plight of our people here.

“So, we had to appeal to the global community to intervene in restoring normalcy into the Nigerian nation state. it was becoming obvious, especially in the last two years, that this country has been polarised along ethno-religious lines.

“In fact, we have never been so divided like this. We have made several appeals to Mr. President to speak to Nigerians to reassure us that he stays committed to a truly Federal Republic of Nigeria where justice, equity and fairplay will reign supreme, but not a word from the presidency.

“The statements coming from the presidential aides, in fact, polarise the nation the more. You hear all sorts of things, like ‘farmers should obtain permission before going to their farms’ when 43 farmers were killed in Borno State.

“And we don’t know where farmers take permission and who from… so we have such statements that give credence that this government is only for a particular ethnic part of the country and when you get to this particular situation, we have to appeal to the United Nations because virtually all countries in the United Nations have citizens in Nigeria and they must be made aware of the level of insecurity in this country in the interest of the entire world.

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“So, what YCE did was to call attention of the global body to what appears to be the insensitive nature of the powers that be in Nigeria to the plight of Yoruba farmers, women, children and citizens. It is because we believe that a truly federal, united Nigeria will be the best for every part of the country.

“It is not because we want to secede. No, we have made too much sacrifice to keep Nigeria one. We are not into wanting to divide it at all because all parts of this country would feel the pain. On NEF’s advice to Fulani to come back to the North if they felt unsafe in the south, Dr Olajide said “there is freedom of movement.

“Anybody can go anywhere. We have not said Fulanis should leave. We said the criminal ones… we have Aliko Dangote in Lagos for example; nobody has said he should leave.

“We have some Fulani in the universities here who are contributing and adding value to society. But those ones killing and maiming citizens, raping women and kidnapping for ransom and destroying the means of livelihood of our farmers are the ones we said should vacate our forests.”

CAPITAL POST reports that last week, the Northern Elders Forum in a statement advised Fulani herdsmen to return to the North over eviction order by the Southern governors.

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