The Northern Governors Forum has expressed dismay over the ongoing crises in some parts of the country where herdsmen belonging to a particular ethnic group are reportedly being targeted in the South-East and South-West states leading to loss of lives and properties.
The Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Bako Lalong, who expressed this dismay in a statement recalled that the recent intervention of the Nigerian Governors Forum led by its Chairman, Governor Kayode Fayemi, who met with stakeholders in Akure, Ondo State, to calm the tension and forge amicable resolution of the issues was commendable.
“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 Northern Governors Forum concedes to the rights of Nigerians to reside wherever they so desire without any molestation or discrimination. The 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.
“In the face of the recent worrisome developments therefore, the Northern Governors Forum calls for calm and cautions Nigerians particularly those in the affected areas who might have been aggrieved or targeted to exercise restraint,” he said.
Lalong said the country is already going through a lot, and that escalating tensions would aggravate the situation to levels that could threaten national security.
“Avoid unguarded utterances”
He called on leaders across political, ethnic, religious and community lines to avoid utterances and actions that would further fan the embers of distrust, hate, violence and retaliation which can easily escalate the situation and cause chaos.
He equally called on government officials, traditional rulers and opinion moulders to also “rise up and speak with one voice by not only condemning crime no matter who is involved, but also sending the right signals to those who want to take the laws into their hands and trample on the Nigerian Constitution by attempting to deny others the rights to live and pursue their legitimate business in whatever place they choose to reside.
“Security agencies must also be firm and rise up to the occasion by protecting all law abiding citizens against threat to their lives and properties irrespective of their ethnic or other affiliations. They should also send clear and unambiguous message to those threatening the peace that they will act decisively to stop them from plunging the nation to anarchy.
“The Northern Governors Forum further assures Nigerians of all ethnic, religious and political persuasions of their constitutional rights to pursue their legitimate businesses wherever they choose within the region and appeal to the people to resist any attempt to lure them into any act that can threaten the peace and tranquility of the region and the nation at large,” he added.