Governors of the Northern states yesterday urged the Special Task Force to exercise caution regarding the quit notice given to Fulani people in Plateau State.
Chairman of the Northern States Governors Forum, Governor Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, in a statement yesterday in reaction to the notice given to Fulani residents of Mahanga, Kakuruk, Maseh and Shong 2 in Barkin Ladi and Riyom local governments, urged the STF “to exercise caution.”
STF on Saturday asked residents of the areas to vacate immediately with their property ahead of impending military action in the troubled villages.
In a statement by his spokesman Danladi Ndayebo, Governor Aliyu said “the forum is worried by concerns by a section of the region to the effect that the vacation order represents a declaration of war by the military against a segment of the nation’s citizens.”
He said “the forum supports any action that will put a stop to the senseless killing of innocent people on the Plateau, but expressed preference for a course of action that would ensure a more harmonious coexistence among persons irrespective of ethnic or religious affiliation.
“(The) current security challenges in Plateau State provide another opportunity for all stakeholders to sit down and solve the indigene-settler problem as a way encouraging national integration.
“(He) urged the STF to work more closely with Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State instead of issuing unilateral orders that could further worsen the already bad security situation in the state.”
‘Pastoralists urge rethink on military operations’
Also yesterday, pastoralists urged the Federal Government to suspend the planned military operations in the Fulani villages in Barkin Ladi and Riyom LGAs.
Executive director of the Pastoralists Resolve (PARE), Saleh Momale, told Daily Trust by telephone yesterday the affected villages were dominated by the Fulani and should the military conduct any raid there, many people including women and children would be killed.
“The Pastoralists Resolve views this as excessive use of power as contradicting the Nigerian constitution and total violation of all international conventions signed by Nigeria,” Momale said.
“Should the security agencies execute their plans as contained in the press statement, the result will be killing of hundreds of thousands of people including women, children and aged, destruction of property and killing of livestock.
“This act whether committed by constituted authority or individual, is punishable under Nigerian and international laws. In this circumstances as Nigeria finds itself, logic, diligence and respect of laws and spirit of the constitution are the requirements for resolving peace and harmonious coexistence.”
He said the previous clashes which led to killings in some villages were instigated by prominent government officials. He said before the incident the two tribes lived together in peace.
“Some local officials instigated the Beroms on the one hand and utilised the local leadership of Fulani to instigate the Fulani youths on the other and that led to the fighting on a Friday,” he said.
He said the circumstances in which Senator Gyang Dantong and assembly man Gyang Fulani died at a funeral of victims of violence last week left many questions unanswered.
“If he was shot dead as some alleged, then the person that will shoot only two people must have been together with them. If it was gunshot sound on the hills as alleged by others, then one should wonder that only Senator Dantong and a house of assembly member panicked to death while another member fainted and other people remained hale and hearty.”
Quit notice not targeted at specific groups—STF
But the Special Task Force yesterday said in Jos the 48-hour quit notice for inhabitants of the troubled zones was not targeted at any group or tribe.
Speaking to journalists, STF commander Major General Henry Ayoola assured that the evacuation notice was based on military necessity which is in line with the International Humanitarian Law and consistent with best global practices.
“We are dealing with real terrorists. So that is why we are asking the innocent people to leave so they don’t get affected in the course of the operation,” he said.
Ayoola said the affected villages were not predominantly occupied by any particular tribe, adding that the notice was meant for the few people still within the area of operation and a temporary measure for the safety of the inhabitants of the villages.
“Once the area is declared safe, the inhabitants would be recalled to their residences. The state government has put in place some relief arrangements for the evacuation,” he added.
He called on residents of Kura-falls, Kuzuk and Sharuk villages of Rim, Gashish and Bachit districts not to panic and to report any suspicious movement within their areas to the STF and other security agencies.
Miyetti-Allah group insists Fulani are targets
However, the secretary of the Miyyeti-Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) in Plateau State, Malam Muhammad Nuru Abdullahi, faulted Ayoola’s claims insisting the plan was targeted at ejecting the Fulani.
He alleged that the eviction plot was hatched between the STF and the Berom, adding “we had also written severally to the STF of such impending plan. So we cannot go anywhere. Nigeria is our country, the villages are our places of living. We as the leaders have called on our people to peacefully remain where they are, and to also report any person that attempts to forcefully evacuate them out of their villages. If the soldiers want to kill us they should come but we will not leave our homes.”
Source Daily Trust