Fish out bad eggs among Fulanis instead of quit notice, Northern Elders tells Akeredolu
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has asked Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State to fish out the perpetrators of evil among the Fulani community in Ondo and deal with them instead of issuing quit notice to them (Fulani).
NEF said it was shocking to see the quit notice from the governor to the Fulani in the state and deemed it fit to speak out.
Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, Director, Publicity and Advocacy of NEF in a statement, said under the Nigerian constitution, citizens reserve right to live in any part of the country.
“Northern Elders Forum is shocked at reports that Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, is asking a Fulani community to leave its lawful location, in addition to other restrictions on activities of Fulani people who have lived in the State for a long period.
“The Forum had resisted the urge to comment since the reported quit order because this is an extremely sensitive issue.
“It has, however, become necessary to speak at this stage and offer advise before mischief-makers capitalise on the issue to compound our existing challenges around security and co-existence.
“The Forum believes that the action of the Governor is provocative and unhelpful. If there are criminal elements among the Fulani who live in the State, the Governor should take appropriate steps to identify them and deal with them,” NEF said.
NEF further said Governor Akeredolu is a senior lawyer who should know that the constitution does not give him the power to deny any Nigerian the right to live where he chooses if he does not break the law in the process.
“His duty to protect and improve the security of citizens and all people in Ondo State cannot be challenged. Indeed, all Governors need more support to improve their responses to security challenges which citizens face.
“Nonetheless, no Nigerian has the power to take punitive action against citizens on political grounds.
“Similarly, the Fulani do not enjoy legal immunity in any part of Nigeria. The Fulani are subject to all laws and regulations and must respect the communities with which they live and interact,” NEF added.
The statement, however, said that what is dangerous and unacceptable is to profile and demonise the Fulani and treat him outside the laws of the land like all other Nigerians.
“The Forum has been following the case of killings of Fulani in Oyo State by Amotekun and is anxious to see that justice is done in this case.
“The quit order by the Governor of Ondo will worsen perceptions that the Fulani is unsafe and unwelcome in certain parts of Nigeria,” the statement noted.
NEF, therefore, urged the Fulani community in Ondo to stay put where they are and continue to be law-abiding.
The Northern Elders also called on the Fulani community in Ondo to collaborate with all legitimate authorities to police their communities against criminal elements and resist moves to be labelled entirely as criminals.
Furthermore, NEF called on Governor Akeredolu to rescind his order on the Fulani, or clarify his position in the event that he is misunderstood.
“He has a responsibility to protect the rights of all people in Ondo State, including the Fulani, and he will be well-advised to engage them towards improving security in the State instead of treating all of them as criminals without rights or protection under the constitution.
“For the avoidance of doubt, no Fulani anywhere in Nigeria will accept unfair and illegal treatment just for being Fulani. Nigerians will be treading a dangerous path if we tolerate treating entire ethnic groups as suspects or criminals,” the statement added.