The Coalition of Northern Groups has called on federal government to declare state-of-emergency in Taraba, Kaduna, Benue and Zamfara, to curb incessant loss of lives and property.
Abdulazeez Suleiman, the spokesman of the group, made the call at a news conference on Tuesday, February 13, 2018, in Abuja.
He said that current political structures in those states should be suspended and replaced with sole administrators until the conditions there improved.
Suleiman urged that immediate steps should also be taken to disband all militias and armed groups in the country.
He advised that government could use force to achieve the goal if need be, to ensure that no group had the capacity to challenge the state in its prerogative to maintain law and order.
“With regards to the crises in the north, government should take further steps to ensure that farmers and herdsmen are given adequate protection by state agencies.
“We demand that an exact list of all those who were killed be published and the identity of the perpetrators made known,” the spokesman said.
He also suggested that compensation should be given to those who lost their properties while those found guilty of any crime should be prosecuted.
Suleiman called on the Federal Government to reconsider its current decision not to interfere with state laws on land use.
“We see this decision as a veiled affirmation of the injurious and vindictive anti-grazing laws that are not just in conflict with the supremacy of our Constitution, but also repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience.
“We ask that the presidency, northern federal legislators and northern governors should show more zeal and effort at protecting the lives and property of pastoral communities everywhere,” he said.
He also urged the government to proscribe all religious groups, political parties or ethnic and tribal organisations that undermined the country’s peace, security, and peaceful coexistence through unguarded utterances and deliberate actions.
Suleiman stressed that individuals who associated with such groups or organisations that incited others to violations must be decisively dealt with in accordance of the law.
He, however, advised federal and state governments to identify suitable lands across the country and create grazing reserves and cattle routes.
“We demand the proclamation of a National Policy on Grazing and Livestock Development (NPGLD) to cater for the needs of all the pastoral communities everywhere in the country.
“We call for the immediate setting up of a National Pastorist Commission (NPC) to act on all matters affecting the wellbeing and interests of all citizens whose livelihoods depend on livestock rearing,” he said.
Suleiman added that because some herdsmen committed crimes did not make all herders criminals.
According to him, the law is being enforced without considering that vast majority of the Fulani, including those who are herders are peaceful everyday people with needs, anxieties and hopes as other Nigerians.
He said it was unfortunate that the National Assembly, which was the sole lawmaking body, had remained silent at the time such repugnant laws were enacted by some states.
“The North, it must be noted, contrary to what is wrongly assumed or deliberately made to appear, is in no way a beneficiary of this administration irrespective of the region’s massive contribution to Buhari’s electoral victory,” he said.
Suleiman added that it was unacceptable for people to hide behind the guise of criticism of government to attack a whole ethnic or religious group.
He said that the groups did not wish to remain silent or passive and allow things that affected the North and potentially cause greater instability in the country to continue unchecked.
“We condemn with all our might the actions of those who perpetrate criminal acts anywhere in Nigeria and strongly denounce those who instigate others to commit acts of violence and lawlessness.
“We emphatically repudiate the vilification of one ethnic and religious group or the other for whatever reason or justification,” Suleiman said.
He rejected the recent call for the creation of state police by some state governors, saying that it was obviously a recipe for disaster.
“The state police is just a licence for state governors to formalise their militia and set them to hound opponents and assist in organising sham elections.
“We also view it as a ploy by the Federal Government to abdicate its responsibilities and thus must be resisted by all and sundry,” he said.