The Northern Governors Forum said yesterday it was concerned by reports that herdsmen belonging to a particular ethnic group are being targeted in some parts of the South-East and South-West, leading to loss of lives and properties.
The governors were apparently reacting to calls by Nigerians in some parts of the south for eviction of the herdsmen who have been accused of killing, kidnapping, raping and destruction of farmlands.
It will be recalled that Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, had asked herders in his state to vacate the state’s forest reserves and subject themselves to registration should if they want to continue to do their business in the state.
Yoruba “freedom fighter,” Sunday Adeyemo, aka, Igboho, also asked herdsmen in Ibarapa area of Oyo State to vacate the state, aside from torching the house of the Seriki Fulani of Yewa community in Ogun and the cattle market in the area, while women in Bayelsa and Edo states took to the streets on Wednesday, asking herdsmen to vacate their states.
The northern governors’ statement on the issue by the chairman and Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong, came as Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai, on Wednesday night, condemned what he described as “unlawful eviction” of citizens, stating that every Nigerian reserves the right to choose where to reside.
He also asked governors and security agencies to rein in those he described as non-state actors and protect communities to stave off anarchy.
These developments came as suspected herdsmen on Wednesday afternoon invaded Government Secondary School, Iluke, in Kabba Bunu Local Government Area of Kogi State, setting it ablaze.
The northern governors, in the statement signed by the Director of Press and Public Affairs to the Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, Makut Macham, in Jos, described as worrisome the rampant eviction notices being given herdsmen in the south.
They recalled the recent intervention of the Nigerian Governors Forum, led by its chairman, Governor Kayode Fayemi, who met with stakeholders in Akure, Ondo State, to douse tension and forge amicable resolution of the issues.
They noted that, while such intervention was celebrated as a success to be sustained through further engagement between herdsmen and representatives of affected communities, emerging reports of attacks on herders and the gradual introduction of ethnic sentiments into the conflict is disturbing and should immediately be nipped in the bud before it gets out of hand.