The Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, has berated the Secretary-General of Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, Mukhtar Aliyu for saying that Southerners were provoking the North to spark crisis in the country.
Also its counterparts in the South-East and South-South, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, also condemned the statement made by the SCF scribe.
Speaking at the opening of ACF’s National Executive Council, NEC, meeting in Kaduna on Wednesday, Aliyu had said: ‘’The North is sick. We have Boko Haram, we have banditry, we have kidnapping, we have rustling, attacks on northerners in the south where many lost their property and investments.
“Above all, the southerners are doing so to spark reactions from us so that the country will go up in flames but we are saying no. We are being confronted with agitations for separation and dissolution of the state, demands for Biafra, Oduduwa as well as restructuring.’’
Reacting, Afenifere in a statement by the National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Jare Ajayi, said the group is not interested in Aliyu’s statement.
He said: “Afenifere reckons more with the view expressed in the communiqué that was issued after the ACF meeting in Kaduna and read by the Forum’s National Chairman, Chief Audu Ogbeh.
‘’In the communiqué, Ogbeh expressed the readiness of the North through Arewa Consultative Forum to meet with their counterparts in other parts of the country, with a view to finding lasting solutions to the lingering problems in Nigeria.
“Besides countering the ACF claim that the north has 75 per cent of the total land mass in Nigeria, it is regrettable that the view expressed by ACF Secretary General alleging provocation by the south contradicted the position of its chairman as stated in the communiqué.
“Ordinarily, it is a statement that should be ignored but for the fact that it came from a person holding the position of Secretary-General and for the allegation that cows are being rustled in the south.
“For one, it is the actions of the bandits among the Fulani, who are from the north, that are provocative and not that of the people of the south. Secondly, southerners are not herders. So they cannot rustle cows from Fulani herders.
“Afenifere is ready to meet with their counterparts from other parts of the country, including ACF, but such a meeting must be conducted with sincerity and a genuine desire to move our country forward.”
Also reacting, Ohanaeze Ndigbo through its spokesmna, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, dismissed as frivolous and baseless.
Ohanaeze said pointedly that the murderous herdsmen with their destructive activities are the major source of conflict in the country.
He said: “The statement of the ACF Secretary-General is not comprehensible. How did all these start? It was the herdsmen from the north that started coming to the south to graze their cattle. In the process, they started destroying people’s farms, with their cattle feeding on farmers’ crops and destroying their farms.
‘’Then, the herdsmen started raping our wives, our daughters, killing the farmers, kidnapping people for ransom and doing other things.
“You know about killing of southerners in the north from time immemorial when they would be killed and brought back in trailer loads to the south.
“Now, you know about Uzo-Uwani killings by herdsmen, Ebonyi killings by herdsmen, Nombo killings by herdsmen.
“Go to the south-west, you know about kidnappings and killings by herdsmen in different parts of Yorubaland. You remember a prominent Yoruba leader whose daughter was killed by herdsmen in Ondo?
“Now, you are aware of how foreign mercenaries and criminal herdsmen bearing AK-47 occupied our forests and launch killings from time to time.
“So, what did the south do now? Should southerners continue to fold their arms and watch herdsmen wreak havoc on their farms and their people? So what is ACF saying?
“It is the north that is provoking the south to provoke crisis. It is the other way round. ACF should check their statements. Who is provoking who?
“It is because of the Fulani herdsmen that our boys set up ESN, the South West set up Amotekun and South East also set up EbubeAgu.
“It is immoral for the ACF to say the South is provoking the North, which means they have no sympathy for all these killings.”