By Soni Daniel, Abuja
Northern elders, Sunday, disowned their chairman, Chief Paul Unongo, on his position that former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, is the chief financier of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, which is frontally opposed to anti-open Grazing legislation in Benue State and reportedly behind the killings in the state.
A member of the NEF, Alhaji Yerima Shettima, told Sunday Vanguard in a telephone interview that the forum of Northern leaders had not met for a long time and had never taken any position on the killings in Benue and many other parts of Nigeria.
Yerima, who heads in the youth wing of the Northern group, said it was wrong for Unongo to speak on crucial national issues without seeking the position of the apex body, saying that his latest position on Atiku was strictly his personal opinion and had nothing to do whatsoever with NEF.
“Our position is that wherever people have committed criminal activity such as the killings in Benue, Rivers, Kaduna and Kwara, it should be given the proper name of criminality and reduced to religious or tribal thing,” Yerima cautioned.
“Criminality has no colouration and nobody should change pure criminality to the colouration of ‘Fulani herdsmen’ or religious inclination.
The Chairman of the Northern Elders Forum, Paul Unongo, has accused former Vice President Atiku Abubakar of being the chief financier and most influential member of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, the apex body of Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria.
“What happened in Benue, Rivers, Kaduna and Kwara was pure criminality and was not caused by religion or cattle rearers,” the NEF member explaianed.
It will be recalled that Unongo, who is the chairman of the NEF, had accused Atiku of being the highest financier and influence in Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, the group that has threaten fire and brimstone over the introduction of the Anti-Open Grazing law in Benue State.
After labelling Atiku as the chief financier of the group, Unongo pleaded with the former vice president to caution the herdsmen, who have been slaughtering hundreds of people in the country.
The NEF Chairman said, “I am aware that the most powerful person in Miyetti Allah is Alhaji Atiku Abubakar,who wants to be the next president. If they are fighting for power and Atiku wants to create problems for Buhari, I don’t know. There are so many possibilities.
“The most powerful person who finances the Miyetti Allah is Abubakar Atiku and he is a prince of the Tiv Court. The Tiv gave him a traditional title, meaning ‘the biggest shade of the Tiv people’.