From Okwe Obi, Abuja
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has lamented alleged attacks on Fulani herders in some states in the South-East and the South-West, appealing to President Muhammdu Buhari, state governors and the police to intervene.
NEF, in a statement by its Director, Publicity and Advocacy, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, cautioned against the profiling of Fulani as terrorists and kidnappers.
Baba-Ahmed added that the quit notice handed down to Hausa-Fulani residents in some states should be stopped as it was undemocratic and negated the country’s constitution.
The statement reads:
‘Northern Elders Forum (NEF) is deeply worried by reports of ejections under threats and attacks on Fulani herders, families and communities in some states of the South.
‘The Forum has been receiving these reports 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.
‘We have also advised law-abiding Fulani communities to seek protection where it is available, and have appealed to other Fulani to resist the temptation to take the law into their own hands.
‘It is necessary to warn people who threaten law-abiding Fulani communities in all parts of Nigeria, but particularly in some parts of the South to desist.
‘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.
‘Citizens and groups who play the role of police and other law-enforcement agencies are committing crimes, and they must be stopped by leaders who are sworn to protect the law and security of all Nigerians.
‘The Forum reminds the nation that 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 calls on President Muhammadu Buhari and State Governors to take immediate and decisive steps to protect law-abiding members of Fulani communities from killers and criminals who apparently believe that Fulani have no rights in Nigeria.
‘It demands the immediate arrest and prosecution of persons who are attacking Fulani and setting the country on a very dangerous path.
‘The Forum repeats its earlier position: 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.
‘The Forum demands that the Nigeria Police must live up to its constitutional responsibility to detect crimes and arrest and prosecute criminals, whoever they are.
‘No politician has the right to outsource the work of the police to local thugs and gangs. 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.
‘Northern Governors should move urgently to prepare to receive Fulani communities being forcefully ejected.
‘The Forum appeals again for all 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.
‘Persons who inflame passions by circulating videos and other materials should also desist. The Forum hopes that Nigerians will see firm, fair and responsible leadership from all elected leaders without delay.’