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Northern Elders allege plot to incite Nigerians against one another

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Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed


Dialogue Will End Insecurity, Matawalle Insists

Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has alleged that there is an orchestrated plot by “certain individuals” to raise tension and cause crisis between groups and regions in the country.

This is as Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle, has insisted that dialogue not force would end banditry and insurgency in the country.

Speaking through their Director, Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, in a statement, yesterday, the elders noted that the nation was facing imminent threats from persons, who they alleged, were also lobbying the international community to create violence in the country.

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The forum said certain narratives and threats by some Nigerians and elected officials were raising fears and passions that could make it easy to break more laws of the land and pitch citizens against each other.

The elders said: “In the last few weeks, the forum has led many responsible groups and individuals to appeal for restraint and respect for the law in the way we engineer developments that cause tensions or react to them. Now the nation is facing imminent threats from persons who are bent on pushing all of us nearer to disaster, to help them achieve their nefarious goals.

“There are efforts to create multiple sources of falsehood in videos and other inflammatory materials in the media clearly targeted at inciting people to act violently against each other.

“Allegations of planned or actual genocide are being made with reckless abandon, and even the international community is being lobbied in futile efforts to sell the fiction that some groups are intent on mass extermination of other groups.

“The latest communication by the Yoruba Council of Elders to the United Nations is an example of lamentable desperation of some groups to erode our security and integrity as a country, and it is more regrettable that it is the handiwork of so-called elders who should forfeit all rights to that honour.”

The forum advised President Muhammadu Buhari and state governors to consult and explore measures that would lower tensions in the country.

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Insisting that the quit notice given to herdsmen in the southern part of the country was unconstitutional, the elders also advised all governments to identify criminals among the Fulani and subject them to the laws of the land.

“We demand the cessation of threats and attacks by local ethnic defenders on Fulani communities. People who have broken the law by attacking and harassing Fulani for just being Fulani must be brought to book.”

We encourage all law-abiding herders to stay put and seek protection, and if they cannot be protected, to relocate to safer areas in the country. We urge northern governors to prepare to receive law-abiding Fulani herders who may be compelled to re-locate.

“We urge all northerners to assure Nigerians from other parts of the country that they are safe and welcome to continue to stay in the North. It is not a crime to be member of any ethnic group, and no one has the right to attempt to expel any Nigerian from places where they live lawfully,” they noted.

Fielding questions from newsmen in Yola, Adamawa State, shortly after opening a 347.6 kilometre rural road in Kuva Ganya, Hong local council of the state jointly executed by the state government, Word Bank and French Development Agency, Matawalle insisted that genuine negotiations with Boko Haram and bandits would end insecurity in the country, urging other state governors to key into the idea.

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He described it as “the best option to fight the present security challenges in Nigeria.” He added: “I have always said that the best solution and option to tackle banditry is to seek for dialogue with the bandits.

“If really we want to end this banditry, we have to sit on a round table and negotiate because, through dialogue and reconciliation, we have been able to secure the release of many people who were under captivity of kidnappers. So, the best way out for my governor colleagues is for them to subscribe to dialogue.”

He, however, explained that dialoguing does not amount to not fighting unrepentant lawbreakers. “It only means the government will use carrot and stick approach. Government will only sit with bandits that are willing to sheath their swords. Government will sit with them and listen to their grievances, if any.

“But those that refuse to take the path of dialogue, we will fight them because as a governor, my first priority is to ensure peace and stability,” he added.

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