The Northern Governors Forum has called for the arrest and trial of criminal herdsmen operating in the country.
The Forum, in a statement, yesterday, expressed concern over the lingering 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.
Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Bako Lalong, said: “The Northern Governors Forum concedes to the rights of Nigerians to reside wherever they so desire without any molestation or discrimination, it also emphasises that criminal elements should not be used to tar any particular ethnic group for any crime, as that will portend danger to peaceful coexistence and national unity.”
Governor Lalong said such criminal elements should be exposed, isolated and made to face the law of the land without prejudice to their ethnic backgrounds as the motives or criminal actions cannot be said to be the position of their ethnic group.
“In the face of the recent worrisome developments, therefore, the Northern Governors Forum calls for calm and cautions Nigerians, particularly, those in the affected areas who might have been aggrieved or targeted to exercise restraint.
“Nigeria is going through a lot and escalating such tensions would definitely not resolve any grievances, but rather aggravate the situation to levels that could threaten national security.
“Leaders across political, ethnic, religious and community lines should avoid utterances and actions that further fan the embers of distrust, hate, violence and retaliation which can easily escalate the situation and cause chaos.
“Relevant government officials, traditional rulers and opinion moulders must also rise up and speak with one voice by not only condemning crime, no matter who is involved, but, also, sending the right signals to those who want to take the laws into their hands and trample on the Nigerian Constitution by attempting to deny others the rights to live and pursue their legitimate business in whatever place they choose to reside.”
He said security agencies must equally be firm and rise up to the occasion by protecting all law abiding citizens against threat to their lives and properties, irrespective of their ethnic or other affiliations.
“They should, also, send clear and unambiguous message to those threatening the peace that they will act decisively to stop them from plunging the nation to anarchy.” – The Sun