Insecurity: Groups, persons fueling crisis, says Northern Elders Forum

By Gbenga Omokhunu, Abuja

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The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) on Friday accused some groups and persons of fueling tension for selfish aims.

Nigeria, according to the forum, is under threats from such groups and persons who, it claimed, were bent on pushing it to disaster for their “nefarious goals”.

It cited a “recent communication by the Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE) to the United Nations,” saying, “it is an example of lamentable desperation of some groups to erode our security and integrity as a country.”

The NEF, in a statement, said “it is more regrettable that it is the handiwork of so-called elders who should forfeit all rights to that honour.”

Spokesman of the forum, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, in a statement, said: “In the last few weeks, the Forum has led many responsible groups and individuals to appeal for restraint and respect for the law in the way we engineer developments that cause tensions or react to them.

“Now the nation is facing imminent threats from persons who are bent on pushing all of us nearer to disaster, to help them achieve their nefarious goals.

“Continuing narratives and threats, including comments from seemingly responsible Nigerians and even elected officials who swore to protect the rights of all citizens and the survival of the country, are raising fears and passions that could make it easy to break more laws of the land and pit citizens against one another.

“There are efforts to create multiple sources of falsehood in videos and other inflammatory materials in the media clearly targeted at inciting people to act violently against each other.

“Allegations of planned or actual genocide are being made with reckless abandon, and even the international community is being lobbied in futile efforts to sell the fiction that some groups are intent on mass extermination of other groups.

“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.”

The NEF said that on its part, it will “continue to work to retrieve the country from the dangerous cliff where it has been placed by irresponsible people, many of them in positions of responsibility.”

Baba-Ahmed said NEF planned to meet with governors in the North and South to improve on collaboration and synergy.

The forum condemned attacks on Fulani communities, stressing 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.”

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

It also urged northern governors to prepare to receive law-abiding herders who may be compelled to relocate.

To northerners, it said they should “assure Nigerians from other parts of the country that they are safe and welcome to continue to stay in the north.

“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.”

It advised President Muhammadu Buhari and governors to consult and explore measures that will lower tensions and assure all Nigerians that we live in a country where laws have meanings, and all citizens have equal rights to live under secure environments.

It said the fight against armed criminals “must be pursued on all fronts and with a lot more seriousness. The criminal must not reap from the suspicions and fears which his activities also generate.”

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