Southern, Middle-Belt leaders reject Buhari’s Ruga Settlements

...idea seeks to turn rest of Nigeria to Fulani colony, they say

The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) on Sunday kicked against the proposed Ruga Settlements the Federal Government is embarking upon in states of the federation, describing the idea as repugnant, repulsive and provocative as, according to the group, it sought to colonize the rest of Nigeria under the guise of promoting cattle rearing.

SMBLF gave its opposition to the plan in a statement titled: “SMBLF Rejects Ruga Settlements” and signed by Yinka Odumakin for the South-West, Prof Chigozie Ogbu (South-East), Senator Bassey Henshaw (South-South) and Dr Isuwa Dogo (Middle- Belt, copy of which was made available to newsmen in Lagos.

The group said it took the decision to reject the proposed plan after reviewing the arguments about the Ruga Settlements by the Federal Government and was convinced that the Muhammadu Buhari-led government was embarking upon the idea in furtherance of the ethnic domination and conquest of the Fulani in Nigeria “which the Buhari government is taking to the Next Level.”

“The idea is repugnant, repulsive and provocative as it seeks to colonize the rest of Nigeria under the guise of promoting cattle rearing,” SMBLF said.

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According to it, cattle rearing is a private business that should not have the involvement of any responsible government, contending that lining the might of the Federal Government behind the business of one ethnic group in a multi-ethnic country like Nigeria could only come from a government that was not interested in its unity.

The leaders, while recalling the atrocities that the Fulani herdsmen had perpetrated against the Nigerian citizens in the last four years, said it was obvious that the government had turned a blind eye to all those crimes while using the instrumentalities of state to defend and shied them from interrogation.

“In the last four years, we have seen the rate at which the Fulani herdsmen have turned non-Fulani communities into killings fields with the government turning a blind eye to all their crimes while using the instrumentalities of state to defend and shied them from interrogation.

“SMBLF was in Benue in January 2018 where over 73 people were killed in one day by the Fulani herdsmen in the order in which we have mourned now and then in our various communities in the last four years through the shedding of innocent blood by the marauders.

“We challenge the Federal Government to tell us any court in the country where any herdsman is being tried today for all the killings, kidnappings, raping of women and destruction of farmland they have carried out against innocent citizens,” the leaders said.

“As if the sinful silence of the government is not enough, it has now decided on a provocative measure to secure territories for them in all the 36 states of the federation,” SMBLF added.

The leaders wondered if the herdsmen as wanderers had perpetrated untold crimes against Indigenous people on a scale that was nothing but genocidal, saying it was left to the imagination what they would do when the Federal Government of Nigeria now forced them on these communities as landlords.

“In no time, the Fulani herdsmen would make situation hellish for their host communities and life will become much more unbearable for them. The Fulanis across Africa would move in droves to these settlements and Nigeria will at the speed of lightning become an exclusive Fulani territory in West Africa,” SMBLF said, declaring its total rejection of planned Ruga Settlements.

“We, therefore, reject any attempt to establish any Fulani colony within our space in Southern Nigeria and the Middle Belt.

“We warn all our governors not to succumb to any pressure to cede an inch of our land for this awful project as any governor who does so would be seen as an enemy of the people he governs,” he declared.

“Constitutionally and as affirmed by the Supreme Court, all land in each state is vested in the governor and not the Federal Government.

“We insist that anyone who wants to do cattle business should on his or her own approach the government of the state concerned to buy land and establish ranches under the prevailing regulations of such state.

“Our people will defend their land against colonization under the conquest policy the Federal Government is mindlessly pushing,” they added.

This was just as the SMBLF said its attention had been directed at a statement from the office of Vice- President Yemi Osinbajo, on the Ruga Settlements, describing the statement, which denied the claim made by the Miyetti Allah as “sophist statement,” even as it said it would like to hold its “peace on the VP for now.”

“By the way, we have seen some sophist statement from the office of VP Yemi Osinbajo denying the take of the Miyetti Allah group that his office is supervising Ruga settlements across the country.

“We will hold our peace on the VP for now but we want him to tell the difference between six Ruga and half a dozen National Livestock Transformation Plan which his office is coordinating,” the leaders said.

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