Fulani herdsmen have the right to live anywhere in Nigeria — El-Rufai

Kaduna governor Nasir El-Rufai urged his colleagues to defend the right of any Nigerian citizen to live anywhere they want in the country.

El-Rufai also condemned the unlawful eviction Fulani herdsmen and settlers from the southern part of Nigeria.

The Kaduna governor’s advice came on the heels of Sunday Igboho’s illegal anti-Fulani crusade in the South-West, Biafra agitators’ attacks on Fulani herdsmen in the South-East and a “Fulani Must Go” protest in Edo State.

People in the region accuse Fulani herdsmen of vandalising farms, kidnapping farmers, raping women and killing residents.

But El-Rufai advised Nigerians not to allow the criminal actions of terrorists and bandits poison their minds against Fulanis and make them act in ways that could tear the country apart.

“On behalf of the Government of Kaduna State, I call on all Nigerians living in our state to respect law and order and the rights of all citizens to live in peace and security wherever they reside or work,” El-Rufai said in a statement on Wednesday.

“I appeal to my colleagues governing other states in our country to make similar statements, and disavow these attacks and massacres.

He said the Kaduna government noted with grave concern video clips circulating on social media platforms like WhatsApp in which citizens of a particular ethnicity were being massacred and their properties destroyed in parts of Nigeria.

“Many citizens of Kaduna State have reached out to me as their governor to confirm the authenticity of these video clips,” El-Rufai said.

“Some allege that these incidents have the support of leaders of the places where attacks have occurred.

“While I am unable to confirm the authenticity of the video clips, their impact on the peaceful coexistence of our people is a source of concern.

“Elected and appointed public leaders across the country must act on their constitutional obligations to protect all citizens, uphold order, and contribute to a climate for peaceful resolution of all issues.

“In Kaduna State, we are learning from decades of unfortunate and needless experiences. We have faced the tragic manifestations of the indigene-settler divide.

“This has been compounded by criminal activities that often have fatal consequences. But the victims of criminal actions like banditry and kidnapping in our state cut across all ethnic and religious groups.

“We have resisted the attempt to tar all members of any ethnic group for the criminal actions of some of their members.

“At all times, our government has upheld the right of every citizen to live and pursue legitimate livelihoods wherever they choose.

The governor recalled ordering the arrest of persons who had issued an unlawful eviction notice in the state to citizens of a ”certain ethnicity” in 2017.

“The impunity and calculated disregard for a common humanity that prompted such irresponsible rhetoric is sadly at play again,” he said.

“The genuine fears felt by people across the country for their safety and security imposes a responsibility on all leaders to ensure that these anxieties are assuaged and urgent steps are taken to relieve human misery and stop the criminal actions that menace our citizens and their property. This should be the top priority.

He called on leaders at all levels ”to engage people and ensure that people do not seize the opportunity for selfish agenda”.

“We cannot allow, by inaction or otherwise, the reign of anarchy where fear creates a tragic momentum of violence, blurring the lines between victims and perpetrators and complicating a difficult moment.”

He urged the National Assembly ”to expedite action on constitutional amendments that would usher in state and community policing”.

“We should not allow the criminal actions of insurgents and bandits to tear our country apart. We should not be seduced into the dangerous passion of blaming innocents, declaring them guilty of the crimes of others, evicting them, killing and destroying their property.

“In difficult times, we must uphold the right of everyone to live, with security and safety. The frenzy of ethnic labelling makes solutions difficult and can only guarantee disorder, violence and pain.

“Governments and security agencies must rein in all non-state actors, tackle hateful rhetoric and protect all communities. Those that engage in criminal acts must be arrested and prosecuted without regard to their ethnic or religious persuasion.

“Civic leaders, across ethnic and religious lines, in all our communities should also help calm the heated passions of the moment, lest the few destroy the many, turning victims of crime against each other, to the delight of those who do not mean well.

“We cannot quench one fire by setting more places ablaze. Let us reject the path of disorder, marginalise, expose and prosecute all criminals and promote peace.”

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