Northern Elders Forum (NEF) yesterday cautioned against profiling all Fulani as terrorists, saying millions of law-abiding Fulani should be encouraged to stay on the side of the law.
The forum however added that any Fulani who chooses to continue on the path of criminality should be made to feel the full weight of the law.
NEF stated this against the backdrop of a Federal High Court ruling in Abuja which declared the activities of bandits in Nigeria as acts of terrorism.
Reacting however, the director of publicity and advocacy, NEF, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, said the forum needs greater clarity on the judicial decision to label bandits and kidnappers as terrorists.
In a statement he issued yesterday, he said, „The Forum noted a judicial decision to label bandits and kidnappers as terrorists, and recommends greater clarity in terms of the targets of this development. In any event, the Forum cautions against profiling and targeting all Fulani as terrorists. Millions of law-abiding Fulani exist who should be encouraged to stay on the side of the law.“
The forum also told President Muhammadu Buhari not to terminate the trial of IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu and release him unconditionally.
Baba-Ahmed, who noted that NEF has carefully studied the request of Igbo elders for Buhari to release Kanu unconditionally, said there are no safe, constructive or informed grounds for granting the request.
NEF stated that Buhari will do serious injury to a country already threatened by multiple challenges to its security and territorial integrity if he delays announcing the only responsible response which is that the judicial process in the case of Kanu must be allowed to run its course.
The Northern elders added that Buhari’s response raised very weighty issues related to the request just as his commitment to consider it.
On the national census planned for 2022, the forum advised that it should be postponed until after the 2023 elections.
The Northern leaders noted that the integrity and success of a sensitive and vital activity as a national census will be compromised by „destabilised and threatened communities“ as well as the proximity of a sensitive general election.
The forum also lamented the hardship under which the vast majority of the population live.
The statement read in part: The Forum invites attention to the hardship under which the vast majority of the population lives.
Increasing poverty levels and widespread insecurity demand that leaders should exercise extreme caution in taking economic and security-related decisions.
Increase in the price of fuel, in particular, will compound the already desperate condition of living of most Nigerians.“
The forum further added that before decisions on fuel price are made, the interest of the national economy, welfare of the citizen, and reactions of a hard-pressed citizenry should be considered.