The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has urged Fulani herders to return to the northern region if their security could not be guaranteed in their host communities in the southern part of the country.
NEF Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed who gave the advice to herders a statement on Tuesday, said the relocation advice became necessary following alleged attack on Fulani herders, families and communities in some states of the south.
He also told northern governors to commence preparation to receive the Fulani communities being ejected from southern states.
The forum warned that the nation would be treading dangerous grounds if it continued to tolerate demonisation of entire groups over particular types of crimes.
The elders called on President Muhammadu Buhari and state governors to “protect law-abiding members of Fulani communities from killers and criminals who apparently believe that Fulani have no rights in Nigeria.”
The statement reads in part: “NEF is deeply worried by reports of ejections, under threats and attacks, of 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 has 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 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. Majority of Fulani are law-abiding and have rights to live lawfully wherever they can find means of subsistence.
“The Fulani will not be ejected from any Nigerian community only on the basis of being Fulani or herding cattle within the limits of laws and regulations. States that seek to limit criminal activities are perfectly entitled to do so, but they must follow due process, and avoid exposing innocent citizens to danger at all cost. The forum demands that the Nigeria Police must live up to its constitutional responsibility to detect crimes and arrest and prosecute criminals, whoever they are.”
The elders appealed to Nigerians to exercise restraint and not play into hands of people who desire to achieve dubious political goals by pitting citizens against each other.