The Coalition of Northern Group (CNG) has said northerners will hold President Muhammadu Buhari and his government responsible should any one of them fall victim of the consequences of the concerns they raised about the safety of Fulani herdsmen in the southern part of the country.
Spokesman of the group, Abdul-Aziz Suleiman said in a statement made available to The Nation in Abuja that while they welcome the assurance by the President, they were not lost in the fact the lives of their kinsmen was under threat in the southern part of the country.
He said “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 fall victim of the consequences of the concerns we raised.”
Suleiman said it was amazed at the denial of southern leaders that they did not declare war on the herders as a result of the killing of the daughter of an Afenifere chieftain by unknown assassins.
The group, in conjunction with the Northern Elders Forum had asked Fulani herdsmen to immediately return to the north as their security was no longer guaranteed in the southern part of the country.
The statement reads: “recall that on July 11th 2019 in response to reactions that trailed our earlier submissions, we issued a statement acknowledging the committed concern of the Northern Governors Forum and the Northern Elders Forum in bringing an end to the tensions instigated around the farmers’/ herders problems.
“In that response, we indicated our acceptance of the invitation for discussions by the leadership of the two forums as a result of which a meeting with the Northern elders was fixed for Tuesday, 15th July 2019.
“We went to the meeting with a prepared position which we presented to the leadership of Northern Elders Forum in which we highlighted the utterances made by the southern leaders including decisions taken by some notable political, religious and cultural leaders of the South.
“We capped our submission by pointing out the dangerous war bells sounded by the southern leaders that tended to instigate violence against the herders living in the South following the killing of the daughter of the Afenifere leader, Mrs. Olakunrin Fasoranti.
“We then politely called the attention of the elders to the imminent attack the Fulani were exposed to in the South while the federal authorities remained silent on the matter.
“We made a request to the elders by precisely saying that based on the our observations and the fact that the instigation of hatred against the Fulani persists, we feel obliged to advice the leadership of the Northern Elders Forum to consider calling on the Fulani to forego their right to live and flourish anywhere in the south and relocate to their various states in the north to ensure their safety noting the inherent return value of such denial.”
According to him, Chairman of the Northern Elders Forum, Professor Ango Abdullahi, responded by acknowledging the concern, saying “We are worried about their wellbeing. If it is true that their safety can no longer be assured, we rather have them back in areas where their safety is guaranteed.
“The bottom line is that their safety is far more important than their stay there. This is a country we all wish to keep together and not at the expenses of other sections.”
He said further that “surprisingly, barely 24 hours after the story was published, two events took place almost simultaneously. Leaders of southern groups such as PANDEF, Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo and a certain Middle Belt forum issued a joint statement tending to deny having made inflammatory remarks capable of instigating violence against the Fulani in the South or that the security of the herders in the South was not in danger as to have warranted concern from the North.
“We find this hypocritical denial from people who are above 70 years old and ordinarily expected to be respectful leaders of their communities disappointing, and embarrassing.
“Such attempt at cover up in an age of advanced communication technology is as ridiculous as it is laughable when considered in the context of the following few of numerous reported outbursts made by them individually and collectively that trend in various electronic, print and the online media.
“And their call for international intervention is equally self-indicting as we are sure the international community is fully abreast with the happenings in the country and quite in the know of who the antagonist is.”
He stressed that the group was encouraged by the sudden response by President Muhammadu Buhari to the advice for the Fulani herdsmen residing in the south to return home if their safety was no longer assured in the face of flagrant threats and intimidation.
He maintained that “We are even more encouraged by the heart-warming attempt made to assure Nigerians of governments’ 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 organizations were busy issuing incendiary threats and vituperation 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 errant 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.” [THE NATION]