By Nelson Ushafa
Governors under the auspices of the Northern Governors Forum, have expressed concern over reports of eviction notice issued on the Fulani ethnic group residing in the South East and South Western parts of Nigeria, with a call on people of the affected areas to exercise restraint.
The position of the governors was contained in a statement released by Makut Simon Macham, the Director of Press & Public Affairs to the Chairman of the Forum and governor of Plateau State, Simon Bako Lalong, on Thursday.
The governors warned that the activities of some criminal elements in the affected areas should not be enough to hold an ethnic group responsible as this portends danger to peaceful coexistence and national unity, adding that Nigeria is going through a lot and escalating such tensions would rather aggravate the crisis thereby threatening national security.
“While the Northern Governors Forum concedes to the rights of Nigerians to reside wherever they so desire without any molestation or discrimination, it also emphasizes that criminal elements should not be used to tar any particular ethnic group for any crime as that will portend danger to peaceful coexistence and national unity.
“Rather, such criminal elements should be exposed, isolated and made to face the law of the land without prejudice to their ethnic backgrounds as the motives or criminal actions cannot be said to be the position of their ethnic group.”
While calling for calm, the forum said it is disturbed that despite the efforts of the Chairman of the Nigerian Governor’s Forum and governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, as well as other stakeholders of the South West region towards finding a lasting solution to issue area, there has been reports of attacks on herdsmen with a gradual introduction of ethnic sentiments in the conflict.
“While such intervention was celebrated as a success to be sustained through further engagement between herdsmen and representatives of affected communities, emerging reports of attacks on herders and the gradual introduction of ethnic sentiments in the conflict is disturbing and should immediately be nipped in the bud before it gets out of hand.”
The governors however, advised Nigerians not to nurse any fear of residing and pursuing their legitimate businesses wherever they choose in any part of the country, with a call on various stakeholders to rise up and speak against crimes in the country, irrespective of who is involved.
They also called on the security agencies to be firm by rising up to the occasion to protect all law abiding citizens against threat to their lives and properties, irrespective of their ethnic or other affiliations.