Northern Elders Forum (NEF) yesterday cautioned against profiling all Fulani as terrorists, saying millions of law-abiding Fulani should be encouraged to stay on the side of the law.
The forum however added that any Fulani who chooses to continue on the path of criminality should be made to feel the full weight of the law.
NEF stated this against the backdrop of a Federal High Court ruling in Abuja which declared the activities of bandits in Nigeria as acts of terrorism.
Reacting however, the director of publicity and advocacy, NEF, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, said the forum needs greater clarity on the judicial decision to label bandits and kidnappers as terrorists.
In a statement he issued yesterday, he said, „The Forum noted a judicial decision to label bandits and kidnappers as terrorists, and recommends greater clarity in terms of the targets of this development. In any event, the Forum cautions against profiling and targeting all Fulani as terrorists. Millions of law-abiding Fulani exist who should be encouraged to stay on the side of the law.“
The forum also told President Muhammadu Buhari not to terminate the trial of IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu and release him unconditionally.
Baba-Ahmed, who noted that NEF has carefully studied the request of Igbo elders for Buhari to release Kanu unconditionally, said there are no safe, constructive or informed grounds for granting the request.
NEF stated that Buhari will do serious injury to a country already threatened by multiple challenges to its security and territorial integrity if he delays announcing the only responsible response which is that the judicial process in the case of Kanu must be allowed to run its course.
The Northern elders added that Buhari’s response raised very weighty issues related to the request just as his commitment to consider it.
On the national census planned for 2022, the forum advised that it should be postponed until after the 2023 elections.
The Northern leaders noted that the integrity and success of a sensitive and vital activity as a national census will be compromised by „destabilised and threatened communities“ as well as the proximity of a sensitive general election.
The forum also lamented the hardship under which the vast majority of the population live.
The statement read in part: The Forum invites attention to the hardship under which the vast majority of the population lives.
Increasing poverty levels and widespread insecurity demand that leaders should exercise extreme caution in taking economic and security-related decisions.
Increase in the price of fuel, in particular, will compound the already desperate condition of living of most Nigerians.
The forum further added that before decisions on fuel price are made, the interest of the national economy, welfare of the citizen, and reactions of a hard-pressed citizenry should be considered.
Meanwhile, no fewer than five bandits were neutralised by security forces in two locations spanning Birnin Gwari and Giwa local government areas of Kaduna State.
It was learnt that troops on patrol made contact with bandits around an identified hideout in Birnin Gwari local government area which led to a gun battle after which two bandits were confirmed killed.
In another raid on a bandits‘ camp around Idasu in Giwa local government area, security forces engaged the criminals in a gun battle, killing three of them in the process.
Confirming the security operations, commissioner, Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, said two AK47 rifles, one pump action rifle and three motorcycles were recovered from the operations. He said the recovered items are in military custody.
Aruwan said, „Governor Nasir El-Rufai received the reports with satisfaction, and thanked the security forces for conducting sharp and effective missions.“
The commissioner said the governor urged the military to sustain the dismantling of identified criminal enclaves, assuring that clearance operations will be sustained in locations across the state.
In a related development, there was apprehension in Kwara State yesterday following the alleged infiltration of bandits into the state.
The Aare Onakakanfo, Chief Gani Adams had last Saturday told a gathering in Ira, Oyun local government area of the state that bandits had relocated to Kwara and Kogi States.
Consequently, some concerned stakeholders began consultations with individuals and organisations on how to secure lives and property in the state.
Checks by LEADERSHIP reveal that residents of Ilorin, the state capital, have restricted their movements to forestall being caught off guard by the bandits.
However, the leadership of Ilorin Emirate For Unity and Development Initiative (IEUDI) has taken the lead on consultations to avoid breach of peace and security in the state.
Leaders of IEUDI met last Sunday with the Ilorin Emirate traditional chiefs under the aegis of Alangua and Magaji Forum over the security challenges in the emirate and the state at large.
Addressing the traditional chiefs, the national president of IEUDI, Alh Yinusa Oniboki, reminded the leaders of their crucial role in addressing the security challenges in the Ilorin Emirate.
He said the association is ready to partner with the traditional chiefs, state government and organisations to secure the state.
Responding, chairman of the Ilorin Emirate traditional chiefs forum, Alh. Sulukarnaini AbdulRahman, commended IEUDI for sustaining the peace in the emirate and supporting the forum‘s effort to provide security.
He said members of the forum in collaboration with their grand patron and the Emir of Ilorin, Alh Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, will leave no stone unturned in securing lives and property in the Ilorin Emirate and the state in general.