An elder statesman, Alhaji Bashir Tofa, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to stop the extrajudicial killing of Fulani in South West to save Nigeria from disintegration.
Tofa spoke on Tuesday, hours after a fresh attack on a Fulani community in Ogun State that led to the killing of a herdsman and the burning of a settlement and a market.
There was similar incident in Oyo State few days ago where Fulani settlements were destroyed and the herders sacked at the instance of a self-acclaimed Yoruba activist, Sunday Igboho.
The recent attacks in the South West took place not long after a meeting of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) in Akure, Ondo State, where some far-reaching decisions were taken, including stoppage of hostilities, registration of herders and banning of night grazing to stem insecurity.
While some observers hailed the method adopted by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo who called stakeholders meeting ahead of the NGF parley, they expressed reservations over the attitude of Oyo and Ogun governors who reportedly allowed Igboho to attack the Fulani.
‘Buhari should stop anarchy’
Tofa, who was the presidential candidate of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC), said it would be a futile attempt to stop lawlessness when youths from the North take arms against people from other regions.
The elder statesman also took a swipe at some South West leaders, who he said looked the other way while some purported “freedom fighters” kept beating the drum of war, issuing eviction orders, attacking and maiming the Fulani.
In a message tagged ‘Statement of Serious Concern’, Tofa described attacks on Fulani in South West as “unacceptable.”
According to him, “The mayhem we see, almost every day now, of killings and maiming of people of Northern extraction, including especially, the Fulani, in some other parts of the country, is unacceptable.
“There is a nefarious plan by the enemies of this potentially great country to initiate a violent crisis that may lead to its destruction.
“Tension is beginning to brew, and if revenge attacks on Southerners begin here in the North, it will be difficult to control. Our enemies from within and outside, some well-known by our security agencies, are more determined than ever to set us against each other, so that we may get to a point of no return when the conflagration began.
“There is no part of this country that is at peace. Local and neighbouring, including foreign terrorist, are busy, fully armed, to cause whatever damage they can inflict on our dear country.
“I, therefore, call on the president to take this insecurity and the tribal lynching happening very seriously and put up urgent measures to deal with them without any more delays. I am sure, there is a concern at the Presidency and discussions are being held. But, urgent and decisive action is now necessary.
“If any Nigerian will not be allowed to live freely and conduct their lives and businesses in any part of the country without being disturbed or molested or even killed, then no one should be allowed to settle and prosper anywhere else.
“If that were to be the case, then, we have no country. That is how serious it is. And that is what our enemies desire. We must not allow them by our inaction,”
On continued eviction orders against Fulani by Igboho, and the apparent silence of some governors, Tofa said, “Those foolish leaders and their stupid hirelings who encourage the expulsion of other Nigerians from their states should remember that their people also live in other parts. They must stop, or the law should stop them by all means necessary.”
Don’t take laws into your hands, Northern elders beg Fulani herders
Worried by the developments in the South West, the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) on Tuesday appealed to Fulani herders living in the region not to take the law into their hands.
It also argued that the Fulani, like all other Nigerians who can be found in every inch of the country, have rights to live anywhere they wish, adding that attempts to exterminate Fulani communities have a grave danger for the country.
In a statement made available to journalists in Abuja by the Director, Publicity and Advocacy, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, the forum urged President Buhari and state governors to take immediate and decisive steps to protect law-abiding members of Fulani communities.
“Northern Elders Forum is deeply worried by reports of ejections under threats and attacks on Fulani herders, families and communities in some states of the South.
“The Forum has been receiving these reports since the night of Sunday, January 31, and had taken the responsible step by drawing the attention of authorities to the dangers, which these attacks represent for all Nigerians.
“We have also advised law-abiding Fulani communities to seek protection where it is available, and have appealed to other Fulani to resist the temptation to take the law into their own hands.
“It is necessary to warn people who threaten law-abiding Fulani communities in all parts of Nigeria, but particularly in some parts of the South, to desist.
“The vast majority of Fulani are law-abiding and have rights to live lawfully wherever they can find means of subsistence.
“Like all Nigerians who can be found in every inch of Nigeria, the rights of the Fulani will not be abridged by criminals hiding behind ethnic interests to exterminate them,” the statement partly read,” he said.
Baba-Ahmed also appealed to all Nigerians to exercise restraint and not to play into the hands of people who were out to achieve dubious political goals by pitching citizens against one another.
Don’t set South-West on fire, NANS tells Igboho
The Ogun State chapter of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) on Tuesday urged Sunday Igboho not to set the South West on fire.
The students’ body urged him to explore dialogue and consultation with relevant stakeholders in South West to find lasting solutions.
The Chairman of NANS/Ogun Joint Campus Committee (JCC), Kehinde Damilola Simeon also called on the state government to register all herdsmen within the borders of Ogun State and ban open grazing.
“It is our view that he (Igboho) should meet with Yoruba leaders, Afenifere and other stakeholders so as not to set the entire South West region on fire and cause anarchy.
“We observe that Igboho’s strategy if not reviewed may lead to ethnic or tribal war. We, therefore, urge him to liaise with the appropriate authorities to avoid a major disaster,” the student leader said.