Northern coalition backs amnesty for bandits

Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) has thrown its weight behind the Sheikh Ahmed Gumi initiative that aims at granting amnesty for bandits terrorising the region.

The group also expressed worry over rising threats of attacks and ejection of Fulani herdsmen in Southern Nigeria.

Spokesperson of the coalition, Abdul Azeez Suleiman, in a statement made available to reporters in Abuja, called on Fulani herdsmen living in the Southern part of the country to relocate if their safety could not be guaranteed by their host communities.

He said: “We repudiate the stand of the Northern Governors’ Forum against open grazing without first identifying suitable lands and creating grazing reserves and cattle routes after four years of lying about resettling the pastoralists through vogue initiatives that never materialised.

“We call on the Nigerian public to note that rather than working to ensure a united, secure one Nigeria, the Federal Government appears to be creating and fanning the present chaotic situation in order to cover its serial misgovernance and pervasive institutional and structural corruption.

“We solidly stand with the Sheikh Ahmed Gumi initiative for engagement that could lead to amnesty, reorientation, reintegration, assimilation for those who embraced peace and a complete crackdown on those who reject peace.

“In this regard, we support and encourage the efforts of the Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi and other reasonable state governments that prefer dialogue to the hardcore counter-productive use of force for further bloodshed preferred by El-rufai and his ilk,” he said.

The CNG noted with deep concern reports of ongoing sinister plots targeted at pastoralists living as minorities from some Southern states irrespective of whether they are part of a crime committed or not, adding that they also note that the plot is perpetrated with the active connivance of some Northern interests and is a situation that feeds on the cowardice of those that call themselves Northern leaders, the bankruptcy of a large section of its elite and lack of political will and capacity by the federal authorities in discharging the vital function of providing security of lives and properties.

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The group said: “Regrettably, Northern Governors, traditional and political institutions rejected the proposal to accept, review, ratify and possibly adopt the “Shege ka Fasa’ initiative which would have helped in forestalling the current drift toward victimisation of northerners. Nowadays, the CNG stands vindicated with the manner, the outlawed IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu is deploying the Southeast Security Network on innocent citizens as well as the emerging threats of the Amotekun in the Southwest.

“CNG notes that the coordination of current operations against the herdsmen in parts of the South is allowed in the hands of non-state actors contrary to the acceptable position that only legally constituted outfits and lawfully sanctioned organisations under the direct control of the government, as recognised by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, can be so organised.

“CNG also notes that the ongoing actions, ostensibly to checkmate the rising tide of insecurity, are nevertheless without drawing distinctions between the Fulani as a race, or cattle herding as an occupation, from criminality.

“The CNG is concerned about the risk of neglecting the fact that all Fulani are not cattle herders or that although most cattle herders in Nigeria are Fulani, there are others that are not; or that just because some herdsmen commit crimes do not make all cattle herders criminals.

“CNG is further worried that the consciousness is eroding that the vast majority of the Fulani, including those who are cattle herders, are peaceful everyday people with the same needs, anxieties and hopes as the rest of Nigerians.”

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