Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has urged Nigerians to ignore the call by the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) to Fulani herders, asking them to leave the South and return to the North.
The president insisted that any part of the country is home to any Nigerian.
NEF and the Coalition of Northern Groups, had, on Tuesday, asked Fulani herdsmen to leave the southern part of Nigeria.
They said the herdsmen should return to the North where their safety and that of their property could be guaranteed.
Regardless, in a statement by the president’s Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, he said: “All citizens of Nigeria are free to move and live in any part of the country they please, whether or not they are originally from there.
“In line with our country’s Constitution, the government of Nigeria and the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari will protect citizens of Nigeria wherever they find themselves.
“No one has the right to ask anyone or group to depart from any part of the country, whether North, South, East or West.”
The president questioned the intentions of the NEF and the other so-called leaders in delving into issues with unsolicited, ill-intentioned advice.
“They have no one’s authority to make such pronouncements.
“The polarising role of the Northern Elders Forum, and all those other groups dabbling into issues of security, to score cheap political points has, for long, been a sore point in Nigeria’s body polity.
“They should not be allowed to mislead anyone, least of all the Fulani herders. The Buhari administration is fully devoted to finding a lasting solution to the herder-farmer clashes in different parts of Nigeria- one that would be acceptable to all the parties involved,” said Garba.
On Tuesday, Prof. Ango Abdullahi-led NEF urged Fulani herders to leave the southern part of the country; if their safety is not guaranteed.
Abdullahi, who said this at a news conference in Abuja, said there was a move by some trouble elements to engage herders with violence in the southern part of the country.
“We have heard that some violence had already started to manifest in some sections of the country against the herdsmen, which we all know would affect peaceful co-existence in the communities where they have lived for many years. Now, certainly, we are worried about their safety, as we are worried about the safety of every Nigerian who decided to live wherever they want to.
“But then, if there is no certainty that their safety is guaranteed by the authorities that are immediately around them or by the authorities that has responsibility for the overall security of all Nigerians wherever they reside, we are certainly worried about their wellbeing.”