PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has been warned by the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) that he will be held responsible should any Fulani herdsmen fall victim to attacks in the southern part of the country following his cancellation of the Ruga policy.
Earlier this week, President Buhari has asked Nigerians to ignore a call by the Northern Elders Forum (Nef) for Fulani cattle herdsmen to leave the south of the country in response to the widespread opposition to the Ruga cattle colony programme. Over the last few weeks, the political temperature has risen in Nigeria after the government came out with the ill-thought out Ruga policy that would involve states handing their land over to Fulani cattle herdsmen to rear their livestock.
Apart from the fact that to work, the policy would require the abrogation of the Land Use Act with vests land ownership with state governors, Ruga is also seen as a security threat. Fulani cattle herdsmen have been guilty of murderous attacks on farming villages across Nigeria lately, carrying out violent assaults on farming communities that protest damage to their crops by livestock.
As a result of the security threat these herdsmen pose, many states have vehemently said they would not make land available for Ruga settlements. In response to the opposition to Ruga, Nef and CNG asked Fulani herdsmen to leave the southern part of Nigeria bit in a swift response, President Buhari questioned the intentions of the Nef and the other so-called leaders in delving into issues with unsolicited, ill-intentioned advice.
Little known and not elected by anyone, CNG has countered the government, saying President Buhari and his government would be held responsible should any northerner fall victim of the consequences of the concerns they raised about the safety of Fulani herdsmen in the southern part of the country. CNG spokesman Abdulaziz Suleiman said they were not lost in the fact that the lives of their kinsmen was under threat in the southern part of the country.
He added: “CNG wholeheartedly welcomes the assurance given by Mr President and his government to protect and guarantee the safety of all Nigerians anywhere they are, including the threatened herdsmen in the south. We, however, wish to remind Mr President and the government that northerners would hold them fully responsible should any one of them fall victim of the consequences of the concerns we raised.”
Mr Suleiman said it was amazed at the denial of southern leaders that they did not declare war on the herdsmen as a result of the killing of the daughter of an Afenifere chieftain by unknown assassins. He added that surprisingly, barely 24 hours after Fulani herdsmen were accused of killing Mrs Olakunrin, leaders of southern groups such as Pandef, Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the Middle Belt Forum issued a joint statement denying having made inflammatory remarks capable of instigating violence against the Fulani in the south of Nigeria.