Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) and Northern Elders Forum (NEF) have expressed concern over the safety of Fulani herdsmen in the southern part of the country and ordered them to relocate to the North.
This followed alleged threats to their lives, by southerners.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja, after a meeting, yesterday, CNG’s spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, frowned at the utterances of some southerners, since the brutal death of the daughter of Afenifere leader, Pa Reuben Fashoranti.
Suleiman urged NEF to prevail on Fulani herdsmen to return home.
The Coalition said: “Based on our observations, and the fact that instigation of hatred against Fulani persists, we feel obliged to advise the leadership of the Northern Elders Forum to consider calling on Fulani to forego their right to live and flourish anywhere in the South and relocate to their various states in the North, to ensure their safety, noting the inherent return value of such denial.”
In response to the CNG’s request, NEF Chairman, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, said if there is no certainty that safety of the Fulani is guaranteed in places where they are residing, they won’t mind having them back to places where their safety would be guaranteed.
He said: “The reactions we are getting from some sections of the country, especially from leaders who ought to be more restrained; concerning the sensitive nature of the issue. We also want to assure them that the NEF will take up this issue, to find solution.
“There is need that everything must be done to avoid escalation of this matter where it will lead to the breakdown of law and order in this country. If there is no certainty that their safety is guaranteed in the places where they are residing, we rather have them back into places where there safety would be guaranteed.
“I think NEF will like to take this opportunity to emphasise, again, to the leadership of the North and other sections that this is a country we want to keep together; not at the expense of any other section of the country.
“If there is going to be a follow-up on compensation, our recommendation should, therefore, be a judicial public enquiry or a panel be set up for people to come and make their claims.
“If the compensation would be paid by government, it should be to all sides that have suffered loss,” Abdullahi noted.
Highlighting their observations which compelled them to request for the return of Fulani to the North, the Coalition said: “Within the grace period since our last statement, we watched with concern, the escalation of the collective resolve of southern leaders in rejecting every initiative for the resettlement of Fulani, which did not preclude the use of inciting and provocative languages to instigated hatred against northerners, particularly herders living in the South.
“Specifically, southern governors had, on July 9, gone ahead to issue a joint decision to stop the unhindered movement of herders and cattle in all the southern states.
“The governors even arrogated to themselves powers to decide which category of herdsmen can be allowed to live in the South and others whom they tagged as criminal elements.
“This resolution by the governors had inspired the Ohanaeze youth to issue a one-week ultimatum, after which they would force all herders in the South to comply with the movement restriction imposed by their governors.
“Also, within the same period, some section of the southern leadership had introduced a fresh round of instigations, by indiscriminately blaming the death of the daughter of the Afenifere leader, Fashoranti, on Fulani and threating reprisals on northerners; contrary to on-the-spot account of her own driver and the official explanation by the police that the culprits were yet to be identified.
“Throwing caution to the winds, (Aare Ona Kakanfo, Iba) Gani Adams, Femi Fani-Kayode, Yinka Odumakin and a host of other southern regionalists shamelessly insisted on changing the narratives around killing of the Fashoranti lady.
“In the process, they threatened all forms of violations and breaches against northerners, including the threat of an all-out war.
The Coalition further expressed concerns over the extent to which situations have degenerated.
“With all these statements and steps taken by southern governors and opinion leaders, we are worried that none of the northern governors or federal official has deemed it apt to caution them,’’ he said.