• Monday, March 04, 2024
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BusinessDay

Plateau killings: Southern, Middle-belt leaders slam Tinubu, allege Fulanisation agenda

The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) has written an open letter to President Bola Tinubu, accusing him of failing to address the ongoing massacre of civilians in the Middle Belt by Fulani militias.

The letter issued on Monday was signed by prominent leaders of ethnic nationalities, including Edwin Clark of the Niger Delta; Ayo Adebanjo, the leader of Afenifere; Emmanuel Ibok-Essien, the national chairman of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF); Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, the president-general of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide; and Pogu Bitrus, the president of Middle Belt Forum.

The open letter comes in the wake of the Christmas Eve attacks by gunmen in the Mangu, Bokkos, and Barkin-Ladi Local Government Areas of Plateau State.

No fewer than 138 villagers were massacred in the attacks, which have generated condemnations both locally and internationally.

The southern and middle belt leaders described the situation as “ethnic cleansing” and warned of the potential disintegration of Nigeria if decisive action isn’t taken.

“Mr President, unfortunately, and as it was with the Buhari administration, rather than accept the reality of the danger posed to the corporate existence of the federation by an extra-territorial agenda of the Fulani ethnic nationality, backed by organized and well-armed militias, which was, since 2018, declared by Amnesty International as the “4th most deadly terrorist organization in the world”, your administration has also, now, in bad faith, dressed this evil in the false garb of “herders/farmers’ clash”, and the blood-thirsty ethnic militias as mere bandits,” the letter reads.

The SMBLF criticized Tinubu for downplaying the severity of the crisis, labelling the attackers as mere “bandits” and ignoring evidence of a deliberate Fulanisation agenda.

They point to instances like the Plateau attack and the widespread displacement of indigenous communities across Benue, Niger, Zamfara, and other states.

The leaders also highlighted previous statements made by the immediate-past governor of Kaduna, Nasir El-rufai, and the governor of Bauchi, Bala Mohammed, to support their Fulanisation agenda claim.
They said, “The audacious and reckless assertions by some prominent personalities of Fulani Extraction like Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, immediate past Governor of Kaduna State, and Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State, who ought to be more “civilized”, lent credence to the Fulanisation agenda.

Nasir El-Rufai reportedly threatened that “whoever kills a Fulani herdsman, including the army, takes a death loan, repayable in 100 years” on an alleged plan by the military to dislodge a Fulani-occupied settlement on other people’s ancestral home in the outskirts of Jos, Plateau State.

He warned that “if the Nigerian Army goes and removes the Fulani settlement, any person wearing Nigerian Army uniform in 14 Western African countries is at risk..”

“Governor Bala Mohammed, on his part, justified the possession of AK-47 weapons by the Fulani herders as self-defence in “practising the tradition of trans-human, pastoralism” throughout West Africa with no regard for national boundaries not to mention ancestral lands of other groups, which has no affinity to the Fulani.”

The letter outlined a series of demands, including:
A transparent security inquiry is needed to identify displaced communities and facilitate their return.
Closure of IDP camps, emphasizing the unacceptable situation of internally displaced people on their ancestral lands.

Practical training and equipment are needed for security agencies to confront the terrorist threat properly.

Restructuring of Nigeria based on true federalism, empowering states and communities with multi-level policing for local security.

A firm response from Tinubu against the perpetrators, ensuring the safety of citizens across the country and restoring national pride.

The SMBLF concluded by urging Tinubu to “rise to the occasion” and prevent the potential dismemberment of Nigeria.