By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South
PAN Niger- Delta Forum, PANDEF, former Provost Marshal, Nigerian Army, Brigadier-General Idada Ikponmwen (retd), agitators and other Niger Delta stakeholders, yesterday, upbraided Muslim cleric, Sheikh Gumi, over his claim that rampaging Fulani herdsmen were militants and not bandits.
National Publicity Secretary, PANDEF, Ken Robinson, said, “It is unfortunate that the nation should be hearing one absurd statement or the other from this man, every day. It is high time that the media stopped giving him attention. He is nothing other than an eccentric bigot, a paladin of marauders and murderers, dressed in cleric’s toga.
“It is vexing that he would have the effrontery to say Fulani herders are not criminals but militants fighting for ‘their ethnic survival’. What nonsense in a hitherto illustrious country reduced to almost a Lilliputian Republic by a Fulani president.
“Nigeria has never experienced the kind of nepotism and prejudice being perpetrated under the Buhari administration, in a constitutional democracy.
“Virtually all strategic positions in the nation’s public sector, including the military, paramilitary and intelligence agencies are firmly under Hausa-Fulani hegemony.
“Oil blocks and marginal fields in the Niger Delta have been mostly exploited by northerners. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, has become a ‘grazing’ ground for a few.
“In the last four years, several eminent Nigerians, across the country, including patriotic Northerners, have spoken out against the skewed and lopsided nature of appointments by Mr President.
“As we speak, PANDEF national leader and distinguished elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark and 15 other eminent Nigerians are in court over the several violations of the Federal Character Act.
“But the administration continues to play deaf and dumb to the protestations and genuine concerns put forward by well-meaning Nigerians, in the interest of peace, equity and justice.
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“Look at the recent appointments made by the President for the headship of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC; the Nigerian Correctional Service, formerly Nigerian Prison Service, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
“And in the face of these irking circumstances, a so-called Sheikh Gumi could imagine asserting killer- herders are fighting for their ethnic survival. It then becomes necessary to reckon that the rest of Nigeria needs to be on the alert,” he said.
No time to play pranks —Ikponmwen
Former Provost Marshal, Nigerian Army, Brigadier General Don Idada Ikponmwen (retd), told Vanguard: “At a time when all reasonable persons are putting heads together to fashion out solutions to our worrisome security problems, it is utterly disturbing that an otherwise acclaimed religious cleric would speak in this manner. Sheikh Gumi’s utterances are diversionary, illogical, inflammatory and provocative.”
“As most Nigerians know, the killer- herdsmen are simply murderous invaders. Militancy relates only to conscientious believers fighting for justifiable causes.”
Speaking through the Coordinator, 21st Century Youths for Niger Delta and Agitators with Conscience, 21st CYNDAC, self-styled “General” Izon Ebi, campaigners in the oil-rich region said: “Which ethnic survival in the name of killing and kidnapping innocent Nigerians? It’s not RUGA and cow rustling anymore. Nigerians know the truth about their agenda. It is a shame that Nigerians are quiet.
“It is so unfortunate and disheartening that this government of President Buhari is playing politics with the lives of innocent Nigerians. Is this government taking Nigerians for a fool or what? First, the government told Nigerians that they are mercenaries from Libya and Mali and later blame it on foreign herdsmen because their cows are being rustled.”
Reacting also, activist, Mr Emmanuel Igbini, said: “It is very unfortunate that AIT did not immediately cut off Sheik Gumi when he started uttering ‘destructed words’. He should have been treated exactly the way Tweeter shut out Trump and his lunacy.
“He is just seeking attention. It would have been better he did so by going to offer himself freely as a medical doctor at the IDPs in Maiduguri and other parts of Nigeria.”