Major sociopolitical groups in Nigeria traded words and warned that another civil war should be averted in a country where more than one million of its citizens were killed as a result of the war which ended exactly 51 years ago.
Recently, some houses and vehicles were set ablaze in Igangan, Ibarapa local government area of Oyo State when protesters attacked settlements inhabited by Fulani groups for their alleged role in the rising insecurity in the southwest.
The incident took place after Sunday Adeyemo, a youth leader better known as Sunday Igboho, addressed his supporters in Ibarapa on Friday after a 7-day eviction notice served on herdsmen.
The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) a political and cultural association of leaders in Northern Nigeria said attacks on Fulani communities in the southwestern region of the country could lead to a repeat of the brutal civil war.
Emmanuel Yawe, the group’s national publicity secretary in a statement called on the federal government and governors in the south-west zone to act swiftly and stop the attacks on Fulani communities in the region.
“The Arewa Consultative Forum this morning received reports of an attack by Yoruba Youths on Alhaji Saliu Abdulkadir, the Serki Fulani in Oyo State,” the statement read.
“In the reports, he was attacked and driven out of his house, eleven cars and his house burnt with his family members now living in the bush.
“There are allegations that one Sunday Igboho an agitator for Oodua Republic and who issued an ultimatum giving Fulani people seven days to leave Yorubaland is the instigator of the attack.
“The most disturbing aspect of the attack is the allegation that the security agents who were earlier warned about its imminence stood by helplessly as the attack was carried out.
“The ACF is worried about this trend and calls on the Federal and State Governments in the South West to move quickly to avert a social upheaval that may destabilize the whole country.
“We recall that the civil war in the 60’s started with attacks and counter-attacks like this. The governments must be proactive and stop history from repeating itself.
“Those who carried out these attacks must be apprehended and the due process of the law allowed to take its course.
“If this is not done there may be counter attacks in the north and the country will be up in flames. The authorities must act. The ACF is very worried and calls on them to act fast.”
Meanwhile, pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere has described the statement of the ACF as insulting and arrogant, noting that if any group plans a repeat of the civil war “the rain will be over their heads”.
Yinka Odumakin, national publicity secretary of Afenifere in a statement asked the ACF to call their “criminals to order and not expect our people to sheepishly wait to be killed by those who value cow lives more than human beings” stating that the south-west cannot be threatened with another civil war.
“While we have gone to a great length to sue for peace and have appealed to our pained people to be law-abiding even with the daily provocations of the Fulani and harassment of our people, we frown at the very arrogant and insulting ACF statement, especially their reference to the event of 1966,” Odumakin said.
“We must make it clear to them that they cannot threaten us with a war at this stage as we will not provoke war but never are we going to run for anybody on our land.
“We are miffed that a body like ACF that has never shown any remorse over the killing of our people can open their mouths anyhow now because there are consequences for the irresponsible actions of their people.
“We advise them to call their criminals to order and not expect our people to sheepishly wait to be killed by those who value cow lives more than human beings.
“We do not want a repeat of 1966 event but if there are people plotting such event again, the rain will be over their heads.”
Earlier, Seyi Makinde, governor of Oyo, had countered Igboho, saying his administration will not accept the issuance of ultimatums to any group of persons.
Nigeria’s police boss Mohammed Adamu, has also ordered the arrest of Igboho over the quit notice he issued to the herdsmen.
By Abel Ejikeme