Governors in Northern Nigeria have called on aggrieved citizens who were affected by activities of herders in the southern region of the country to be calm and exercise restraint, describing as unfair attacks on Fulani citizens over actions of some herders.
The governors stated this on Thursday through the Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong and noted that targeting citizens of Fulani extraction over the crimes of some herders portends danger for the country.
While there have been uproars for the eviction of herders in the south, some herders have also been accused of kidnapping, banditry and destruction of farmland.
The forum said Nigerians, including herders, have a right to live in any part of the country without discrimination.
The statement from the Northern Governors Forum read: “While such intervention (Governor Kayode Fayemi’s intervention in Ondo state) was celebrated as a success to be sustained through further engagement between herdsmen and representatives of affected communities, emerging reports of attacks on herders and the gradual introduction of ethnic sentiments in the conflict is disturbing and should immediately be nipped in the bud before it gets out of hand.
“The Northern Governors Forum concedes to the rights of Nigerians to reside wherever they so desire without any molestation or discrimination.
“The criminal elements should not be used to tar any particular ethnic group for any crime as that will portend danger to peaceful coexistence and national unity.
“Rather, such criminal elements should be exposed, isolated and made to face the law of the land without prejudice to their ethnic backgrounds as the motives or criminal actions cannot be said to be the position of their ethnic group.
“In the face of the recent worrisome developments, therefore, the Northern Governors Forum calls for calm and cautions Nigerians particularly those in the affected areas who might have been aggrieved or targeted to exercise restraint.”
“Influencers and community leaders should rise and speak with one voice by not only condemning crime no matter who is involved but also sending the right signals to those who want to take the laws into their hands and trample on the Nigerian Constitution by attempting to deny others the rights to live and pursue their legitimate business in whatever place they choose to reside”.
“Security agencies must also be firm and rise to the occasion by protecting all law-abiding citizens against the threat to their lives and properties irrespective of their ethnic or other affiliations,” it said.
“They should also send a clear and unambiguous message to those threatening the peace that they will act decisively to stop them from plunging the nation to anarchy.
“The Northern Governors Forum further assures Nigerians of all ethnic, religious and political persuasions of their constitutional rights to pursue their legitimate businesses wherever they choose within the region and appeal to the people to resist any attempt to lure them into any activity that can threaten the peace and tranquillity of the region and the nation at large.”
By Abel Ejikeme