Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) has replied President Muhammadu Buhari’s counter directives for Fulani herdsmen and Northerners to leave the South, warning that he will be held responsible if any northerner falls victim of harassment and attack in any southern part of the country.
The group and the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) had earlier advised Fulani herdsmen to relocate to the North until the controversial Ruga policy is finalised. But President Buhari in a statement urged the herders to disregard the directive, stressing that every Nigerian has right to live in any part of the country.
Reacting to the presidential counter directive in a statement signed by its spokesman, Abdu-Azeez Sulaiman, the group reminded the president that “Northerners would hold him fully responsible should any one of them falls victim of the consequences of the concerns we raised.”
While appreciating the prompt response of the Federal government to the advice given to the Fulani herdsmen residing in the South to return home if their safety was no longer guaranteed in the face of flagrant threats and intimidation, the statement read: “We are even more encouraged by the heart-warming attempt made to assure Nigerians of government’s determination to provide adequate security to all citizens living in any part of the country as contained in the nation’s constitution.
“It is apparent that government’s initial silence throughout the recent weeks when various southern leaders and regional organisations were busy issuing incendiary threats and vituperations against the Fulani and Northerners living in the South smacked of discriminatory application of this important constitutional provision.
“We, however, find it even more inexplicable and disturbing that government kept mute and allowed this arrant behaviour from some southern leaders and groups only for it to find its voice when threatened Northerners were advised to consider returning home to safety.
“We are thus compelled to wonder what happened to the constitutional safeguard available for Northerners when the government they played a key role in ushering abandoned them to the mercy of cold-blooded killers without corresponding concern or care.
“Should we assume that the hundreds of people being displaced, despoiled and depopulated in Katsina, Zamfara, Borno, Yobe, Kaduna, Niger and other parts of the North are not deserving of protection and support?
“It is astonishing that the death of the daughter of an Afenifere chieftain, in the hands of unknown assailants, painful as it is, should trigger more robust and timely response than that of the large scale and massive killings being witnessed in the above mentioned northern states.
“CNG wholeheartedly welcomes the assurance given by Mr. President and his government to protect and guarantee the safety of all Nigerians anywhere they are including the threatened herdsmen in the South. We, however, wish to remind Mr President and the government that Northerners would hold them fully responsible should any one of them falls victim of the consequences of the concerns we raised,” the statement read.