Monday, February 15, 2021

Some groups, persons plotting to pitch Nigerians against each other, Northern elders allege


Rayyan Alhassan
Rayyan Alhassan is a 30-year-old graduate of Journalism and Mass Communication at Sikkim Manipal University, Ghana. He is the acting Managing Editor at the Daily Nigerian newspaper, a position he has held for the past 3 years. He can be reached via [email protected], or, or @Rayyan88 on Twitter.
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The Northern Elders Forum, NEF, has alleged that some groups are raising fears and passions that could pitch Nigerians against each other.

In a statement on Friday in Kaduna, spokesman of the forum, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, said the forum was constrained to draw the attention of Nigerians to sustained attempts by some people to create tension and fear in the country to achieve their objectives.

Mr Baba-Ahmed, particularly, noted the recent “communication by the Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE) to the United Nations,” saying, “it is an example of lamentable desperation of some groups to erode our security and integrity as a country”.

He said: ”It is more regrettable that it is the handiwork of so-called elders who should forfeit all rights to that honour.”

“Northern Elders Forum is constrained to invite the nation’s attention to the dangers of sustained attempts to raise tensions and create fears among Nigerians until, presumably, they lead to major crisis involving groups and regions in the country.

“In the last few weeks, the Forum has led many responsible groups and individuals to appeal for restraint and respect for the law in the way we engineer developments that cause tensions, or react to them.

“Now the nation is facing imminent threats from persons who are bent on pushing all of us nearer to disaster, to help them achieve their nefarious goals”, the statement said.

Mr Baba-Ahmed regretted that the “continuing narratives and threats, including comments from seemingly responsible Nigerians and even elected officials who swore to protect the rights of all citizens and the survival of the country, are raising fears and passions that could make it easy to break more laws of the land and pitch citizens against each other.”

According to him, “There are efforts to create multiple sources of falsehood in videos and other inflammatory materials in the media clearly targeted at inciting people to act violently against each other.”

The statement said, “Allegations of planned or actual genocide are being made with reckless abandon, and even the international community is being lobbied in futile efforts to sell the fiction that some groups are intent on mass extermination of other groups.”

He said, “The latest communication by the Yoruba Council of Elders to the United Nations is an example of lamentable desperation of some groups to erode our security and integrity as a country, and it is more regrettable that it is the handiwork of so-called elders who should forfeit all rights to that honour”.

The statement said further that NEF will “continue to work to retrieve the country from the dangerous cliff where it has been placed by irresponsible people, many of them in positions of responsibility.”

Mr Baba-Ahmed said, NEF plans to meet with governors in the North and South to improve on collaboration and synergy.

The statement condemned attacks on Fulani communities, declaring that “Fulani who have broken no laws must be protected from abuse wherever they are.”

“We ask all governments to identify criminals among the Fulani and subject them to the laws of the land.

“Similarly, we demand the cessation of threats and attacks by local ethnic defenders on Fulani communities.
“People who have broken the law by attacking and harassing Fulani for just being Fulani must be brought to book”, the statement said.

The forum called on “all law-abiding herders to stay put and seek protection, and if they cannot be protected, to relocate to safer areas in the country.”

It further urged northern governors to prepare to receive law-abiding Fulani herders who may be compelled to re-locate.

“We urge all northerners to assure Nigerians from other parts of the country that they are safe and welcome to continue to stay in the north.

“The forum repeats: it is not a crime to be member of any ethnic group, and no one has the right to attempt to expel any Nigerian from places where they live lawfully.

“The Forum advises President Muhammadu Buhari and Governors to consult and explore measures that will lower tensions and assure all Nigerians that we live in a country where laws have meanings, and all citizens have equal rights to live under secure environments.

“The fight against armed criminals must be pursued on all fronts and with a lot more seriousness.

“The criminal must not reap from the suspicions and fears which his activities also generate”, the forum said.

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