By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA – The Coalition of Northern Groups CNG has expressed surprise at the inability of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to react to the wave of killings in several northern states, saying it took the killing of a daughter of Afenifere leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti for the government to act.
Just as it said that leaders of southern groups such as PANDEF, Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo and a certain Middle Belt were hypocritical when they issued a joint statement denying 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 are thus compelled to wonder what happened to the constitutional safeguards 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 coalition stated.
The coalition also said it would hold the president responsible for the death of any Fulani herder in Southern states since he has asked the herders to jettison the coalition’s admonition to vacate the south.
Spokesman of the coalition, Abdul-azeez Suleiman in a statement made available to Vanguard Thursday in Abuja said the CNG however “feels 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 said; “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 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 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.
“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”.
The CNG also berated southern leaders for claiming ignorance of threats earlier made against herdsmen, a situation the coalition said informed its recent counter-reaction.
“We 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. Lastly, we made a request to the elders by precisely saying: ‘Based on the above observations sir, and the fact that the instigation of hatred against the Fulani persists, we feel obliged to advise 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.’
“Professor Ango Abdullahi, leader of the NEF, responded by acknowledging our concern in the following words: ‘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’. (reported in several national dailies of July 16, 2019 including Vanguard, Blueprint, The Nation, Daily Trust etc.)
“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 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”, CNG added.