The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari and state governors to protect law-abiding Fulani herdsmen at all cost.
While advising herdsmen not to take laws into their hands, the Northern elders called for the arrest and prosecution of persons who are attacking Fulanis.
A statement issued on Tuesday by the NEF Director, Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed read in part:
“Northern Elders Forum 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.
“The Northern elders call 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 has 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.”
Warning people who threaten law-abiding Fulani communities in all parts of Nigeria, particularly in some parts of the South, to desist, the Northern elders said:
“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 Northern elders moved to remind 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.
“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,” Baba-Ahmed added.