Northern Elders raise alarm over plan by elite, elected officials to incite violence

The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has said that there are plans by the elite and some elected officials to incite people against themselves which would lead to breakdown of law and order.

NEF said the individuals had gone as far as lobbying the international community in an effort to create the impression that some groups are intent on mass extermination of other groups.

In a statement signed by the Director, Publicity and Advocacy of NEF, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, it said efforts were made to create multiple sources of falsehood in videos and other materials in the media targeted at inciting people to act violently against themselves.

“Now the nation is facing imminent threats from persons who are bent on pushing all of us nearer to disaster to help them achieve their nefarious goals.

“The Forum particularly notes that continuing narratives and threats, including comments from seemingly responsible Nigerians and even elected officials who swore to protect the rights of all citizens and the survival of the country, are raising fears and passions that could make it easy to break more laws of the land and pitch citizens against each other.

“There are efforts to create multiple sources of falsehood in videos and other inflammatory materials in the media clearly targeted at inciting people to act violently against each other.

“Allegations of planned or actual genocide are being made with reckless abandon and even the international community is being lobbied in futile efforts to sell the fiction that some groups are intent on mass extermination of other groups.

“Northern Elders Forum commits to continue to work to retrieve the country from the dangerous cliff where it has been placed by irresponsible people, many of them in positions of responsibility,” the statement said.

NEF said it plans to meet with governors in the North and South to improve responsible collaboration and synergy, and it also intend to visit communities where it has influence to lower tensions and provide assurances and comfort.

The Forum, however, advised President Muhammadu Buhari and governors to consult and explore measures that will lower tensions and assure all Nigerians that they live in a country where laws have meanings and all citizens have equal rights to live under secure environments.

“The fight against armed criminals must be pursued on all fronts and with a lot more seriousness. The criminal must not reap from the suspicions and fears which his activities also generate,” the statement added.

On herdsmen, NEF said “we repeat our demands that Fulani who have broken no laws must be protected from abuse wherever they are. We ask all governments to identify criminals among the Fulani and subject them to the laws of the land.

“Similarly, we demand the cessation of threats and attacks by local ethnic defenders on Fulani communities. People who have broken the law by attacking and harassing Fulani for just being Fulani must be brought to book.

“We encourage all law-abiding herders to stay put and seek protection and if they cannot be protected, to relocate to safer areas in the country.

“We urge northern governors to prepare to receive law-abiding Fulani herders who may be compelled to relocate. We urge all northerners to assure Nigerians from other parts of the country that they are safe and welcome to continue to stay in the north.”

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