From Okwe Obi, Abuja
Northern Elders Forum (NEF), has gain, decried alleged attack on Fulani herders in some States in the South East region, noting that no section of the country has the right to intimidate, harass another region with reckless abandon.
NEF Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr
Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, in a statement yesterday, further rejected those constituted to broker peace between Fulani community and farmers and the calling off of the strike the Amalgamated Union of Traders and Cattle Breeders Association Union (AUTCBAC in the South West, claiming that they would not do a job.
“The Northern Elders Forum notes the decision of the leadership of the Amalgamated Union of Traders and Cattle Breeders Association Union (AUTCBAU) to call off its strike which took the form of stoppage of transporting food and cattle to the southern part of the country following attacks on its members and related threats.
“The decision to call off the strike was reportedly brokered by Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello on the instructions of President Muhammadu Buhari, conveyed through his Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari.
“The Forum welcomes the decision of the Federal Government to address a major and prolonged grievance of transporters over multiple taxation and extortion on federal highways along the country’s eastern corridor all the way from Borno through Adamawa the States in the south east and the south south.
“These illegal checkpoints numbering more than one hundred had been pronounced as illegal, yet they had been tolerated by all authorities.
“Their effects had been to stifle trade and massively raise the cost of transporting food items and cattle. The Forum hopes that this decision will be enforced comprehensively and immediately.
“The Forum is disturbed by the visible involvement of a private citizen identified as supporting threats to security of northern communities in the south west in the discussions preceding the resolution of the strike, and the mention of a number of people who had been instrumental to creating intense hostility around northerners living in the south west.
“Indeed, some of the persons mentioned as having been contacted to give assurances to northern traders, herders and transporters have been fingered by the police as being involved in criminal activities against northerners in the south west.
“The Forum rejects the idea that federal government or its agents could encourage the outsourcing of its duty and responsibility to protect citizens to individuals who are neck-deep in encouraging violence and corruption of communal co-existence.
“The Forum would rather believe that the involvement of these people was contrived to render its purported intervention valueless.
“In any case, the involvement of private citizens who represent existential threats to citizens in an exercise designed to give them assurances that they could be safe is abhorrent and unacceptable.
“The Forum recognizes the pivotal role of Governors in the South West as well as other respected leaders of communities, working with the federal government, to improve the sense of security of all communities.
“Governors in particular are leaders with constitutional responsibilities to protect all citizens, and the Forum calls upon them to exercise those responsibilities fairly and diligently.
“It encourages members of northern communities to continue to live in peace with other communities and explore all avenues to improve better inter-communal relations.
“We wish to invite attention of groups and private individuals who may be tempted to give themselves the power to harass and intimidate others that they are involved in illegal activities, and northerners will not accept to live and pursue their livelihoods in the south west only with their approval,” he said.