The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) on Tuesday warned that Nigeria will be treading dangerous grounds should the demonization of the entire Fulani ethnic group over particular types of crimes be allowed to continue.
The forum also demanded the immediate arrest and prosecution of persons who are attacking Fulani and setting the country on a very dangerous path.
While the Forum expressed concerns over the ejection notices issued to Fulani herders, it called on Northern governors to move quickly to prepare to receive the Fulani communities being forcefully ejected.
Recently, Sunday Adeyemo, a youth leader better known as Sunday Igboho, recently issued an ultimatum to Fulani herders in Ibarapa local government area of Oyo state.
Following up on the ultimatum, he visited Ogun state on Monday and vowed to “flush out” killer herdsmen.
The northern elders in its reaction called on the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and other security agencies to wade into the matter.
“The forum 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,” Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, NEF’s director of publicity and advocacy, said in a statement.
“NEF is deeply worried by reports of ejections and attacks on Fulani herders and communities in some states of the South.
“Law-abiding Fulani communities are advised to seek protection where it is available, and urged to resist the temptation to take the law into their own hands.
“The vast majority of Fulani are 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.
“There are criminals in all ethnic groups, and the nation will be treading dangerous grounds if it continues to tolerate the demonization of entire groups over particular types of crimes.
“The forum demands the immediate arrest and prosecution of persons who are attacking Fulani and setting the country on a very dangerous path.
“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.
“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 at all cost.”
“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,” the statement read.
“Northern governors should move urgently to prepare to receive Fulani communities being forcefully ejected.”
The forum appealed to Nigerians to “exercise restraint” and not to play into the hands of “people who desire to achieve dubious political goals by pitching citizens against each other”.
By Abel Ejikeme