The Southern and Middle Belt Forum leaders made up of Afenifere, pan Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, and Middle Belt Forum have written to Abdulsalami Abubakar, a former military head of state, declining to participation in a roundtable on national issues and security which is scheduled to begin on Monday, July 29, 2019, because of the inclusion of Miyetti Allah group and Gan Allah Fulani Development Association as participants.
The leaders had in joint letter sent to Abdulsalami Abubakar which was made available to journalists on Sunday, July 28, 2019, declined to participate in the roundtable scheduled to start on Monday, July 29, 2019, expressed their displeasure to participate in the meeting which was expected to have the leaders, Arewa Consultative Forum, Northern Elders’ Forum and service chiefs in attendance to discuss issues of security.
The leaders in the letter stated that it was shocked to have discovered that the meeting would include Miyetti Allah and Gan Allah Fulani Development Association. It said that it did not know the members of the Gan Allah Fulani Development Association and that lumping of Miyetti Allah, a trade association for cattle herders whose members had been accused of various violations of human rights across the country sent worrying signal to them.
The letter reads, “Greetings to you from the leaders of Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum. We individually received your invitation to the event holding in Minna between 29th and 30th July, 2019. We thank you for your interest in the affairs of our country which made us to accept your invitation in good faith. It was in the thick of our preparations for the journey that details of the roundtable came to our attention. Some aspect of which has necessitated this last minute communication.
We observed that the roundtable will have in attendance all the National Security Heads, Chief of Defence Staff and notable Nigerians. Underscoring the high level of the consultations. We however noticed further that in your category of socio-cultural organisations invited, you listed the following: PANDEF, Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Middle Belt Forum, Arewa Consultative Forum, Northern Elder Forum. We were comfortable up to that point until we saw Gan Allah Fulani Development Association and Miyetti Allah.
“While we do not know the members of the first group, the lumping of Miyetti Allah, a trade association for cattle herders and whose members have been accused of various violations of rights across the country sends a worrying signal to us. It falls into the categorisation of our respected socio-cultural platforms with Miyetti Allah by Presidential Spokesman, Garba Shehu.
“We consider the above a grave insult on our bodies and our coming to a roundtable with the group would mean acquiescence to the narrative that put us in the same bracket with those wielding illegal AK-47 all over the country and inflicting terror on fellow citizens.
“Even if the above was not the case with Miyetti Allah , bringing a trade group like them in the same vehicle with the nationalities organisations would not have been appropriate as there are organisations of their category for fishermen, farmers, spare parts dealers, and poultry owners among others across Nigeria who are not invited.
“Towards this end, we decline participation in the roundtable as scheduled without prejudice to your peace-building effort which is appreciated. We equally regret any inconvenience our decision may cause you as we know the efforts that go into putting events such as this together. Be rest assured of our cooperation in all efforts and dialogues to make Nigeria peaceful, secure and forward-moving provided they are organised in a way that does not subtract from our dignity and value,” it read.
The letter was signed by Chief Edwin Clark on behalf of PANDEF, Chief Ayo Adebanjo for Afenifere, Dr. Nnia Nwodo for Ohanaeze and Dr. Pogu Butrus for Middle Belt Forum.
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