From Pwanagba Agabus, Jos
Sequel to reports that herdsmen have been given eviction notice in some states of the country, the Northern Governors Forum has call for “caution and calm”.
The Forum said it was concerned by lingering reports that herdsmen belonging to a particular ethnic group are being targeted in some parts of the “South East and South West” which has led to “loss of lives and properties”.
The call was made by the Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Plateau State Simon Lalong, through his Director of Press and Public Affairs, Dr Makut Simon Macham, in Jos, the State Capital.
It would be recalled that the Nigerian Governors Forum led by its Chairman, Governor Kayode Fayemi recently intervened in the matter, where they met with stakeholders in Akure, Ondo State to calm the tension and forge amicable resolution of the issues.
Speaking on the aforementioned intervention, Lalong said, “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.
“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”, he explained.
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.
According to the Forum, “Nigeria is going through a lot and escalating such tensions would definitely not resolve any grievances but rather aggravate the situation to levels that could threaten national security.
“Leaders across political, ethnic, religious and community lines should avoid utterances and actions that further fan the embers of distrust, hate, violence and retaliation which can easily escalate the situation and cause chaos”, the Forum advised.
The Northern Governors, call on relevant Government officials, traditional rulers and opinion moulders to 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 equally 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 Forum stressed.
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.