Fred Itua, Abuja
Few days after over 100 people were allegedly killed by suspected Fulani herdsmen, leaders from the North Central states, on the platform of Middle Belt Forum (MBF), have called on the African Union (AU), the United States Government and the International Criminal Court (ICC) to halt what they described as “ethnic cleansing” in Nigeria.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja, yesterday, President of the forum, Dr. Pogu Bitrus, who spoke on behalf of others, said the indifference shown by the AU since the killings started was worrisome.
Although he acknowledged the United States President, Donald Trump, spoke out against killings of Christians in Nigeria, the leaders called on governments to mount pressure on the Nigerian Government and President Muhammadu Buhari, to take steps.
He said: “We call on the African Union to condemn and call to order the Nigerian government for failing in its responsibility to protect the peoples of the Middle Belt.
“The African Union’s silence is no longer golden as Nigeria has been on the road to the genocide in Rwanda; with the African Union maintaining silence.
“We call on the International Criminal Court to investigate the genocide in the Middle Belt and bring the perpetrators to justice.
“The Government of the United States should bring pressure to bear on the Government of Nigeria and president Buhari to take steps to ensure that they bring the killings to an end and the perpetrators to justice.”
Worried that the killings may continue, the forum called on citizens to defend themselves since government has failed to protect them.
“We call on the entire
people of the Middle Belt to organise themselves in their communities to defend themselves and their property as the government has abdicated its responsibility to protect them.
“Section 33 of the Nigerian Constitution guarantees every citizen the right to life and nobody should be deprived of that right.
“The right to private self defence is constitutionally recognised to protect that right to life.
“To all state governments in the Middle Belt: Governments of all states in the Middle Belt should, as a matter of urgency, support communities in the Middle Belt to train vigilante groups on ways of repelling external aggressions of the sort communities in our homelands have been subjected to in the last two decades,” he said.
The leaders didn’t leave out security agencies.
They said security agencies could not have denied knowledge of the attacks while they lasted.
Dr. Bitrus added: “The most recent attacks in Plateau state, where several communities cutting across three local government areas left over 200 persons dead, was sustained for over five hours; without any response from the security forces.
“It is inconceivable that an attack of such magnitude requiring the kind of logistics involved could have been planned without any inkling by the intelligence agencies.
“It is absolutely impossible that, for five hours, the security agencies were ignorant of the attacks in this era where majority of the members of these communities have access to mobile phones and have numbers of police divisions and relatives’ numbers.
“Our conclusion, therefore, is that this is evidence of high-level complicity by the security forces.”