The influential Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) on Friday ruled Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State out of order over his comment that southerners in the north should not expect protection if the killing of northerners resident in the south does not stop.

Matawalle in a statement on Thursday on the state of the nation had deplored the attacks on northerners in parts of the south, saying the south should not think it has a monopoly of violence.

He labeled the south increasingly unfriendly, adding that northerners’ lives, dignity and possessions are being threatened “even as we try as northern leaders to always calm the situation and to protect the interest, businesses and dignity of all southerners in the north.”

“We will not tolerate any form of intimidation any longer,” he said.

But the ACF and the other regional groups believe the governor went too far.

The ACF said the governor’s statement was ‘the easiest way’ to destroy Nigeria.

It said it was totally against such a comment notwithstanding the fact that it came from a serving governor.

National Publicity Secretary of ACF, Emmanuel Yawe, told newsmen on the phone that there was nothing to justify Matawalle’s hard line stance.

“You know we held our NEC meeting yesterday (Thursday) and we issued a communique where we took a position on that. Our position contradicts that of the governor and we stand by our statement,” Yawe said.

He added: “ACF does not recommend or support self-help. If somebody breaks the law, the person should be taken to the law enforcement agents. People should not be encouraged to take the law into their own hands.

“It is not justifiable to say that because northerners are being killed in the south, we are also going to kill southerners in the north. That is not correct and ACF is against it. That is the easiest way to destroy this country if everyone takes the law into his hands and decides to revenge. We are completely against that.

“We witnessed such in1966 and we saw where it took us. So, we are against it even if a governor is making such statement.”

The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) could not be reached yesterday, but in a joint communiqué it signed with other northern groups at the end of the Northern People’s Summit, it urged restraints and urged northern communities to continue be good hosts to southerners living in their midst.

They specifically asked the federal and state governments to “take firmer steps to protect members of northern communities who live in the south. This includes the arrest and prosecution of persons who are involved in these dangerous activities.

“The North urges Northern communities to continue to exercise restraint and continue to be good hosts to Southerners living in the North.”


Yoruba in the North: Matawalle’s statement uncalled for

The leadership of the Yoruba community in the 19 northern states and Abuja described the governor’s statement as uncalled for.

Chairman Yoruba Council of Obas and Chiefs in Northern Nigeria, Alhaji Mohammed Arigbabuwo, said Matawalle ought to have invested his energy in reaching out to his colleagues in the south and demanding provision of adequate security for northerners in their states.

“We are not happy with the governor’s statement. Such statement should not have come from a leader holding sensitive position of a state governor,” Arigbabuwo said.

“What we expected from governors of the north like Matawalle is to reach out to their colleagues in the south and demand security for northerners in their respective states.”


He’s not talking like a leader, says Ohanaeze

National spokesman for Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Alex Ogbonnia, said: “It is unreasonable for the governor to be accusing the south of attacking northerners. He is not talking like a leader.

“I am sure that he is just trying to gain the support of APC in order to win a second term in office, otherwise, it is not necessary.

“I am disappointed at the way the man spoke. The problem is about herdsmen having issues with the local farmers and in the course of the clash people get killed.

”Zamfara has been the centerpiece of kidnapping and banditry. He is being overwhelmed by the level of insecurity in his state.

Matawalle is not articulate and organised. He is trying to see what will help him get support for a second term in office. I am disappointed at what he said.

“Talking about protecting the interests of southerners in the north, it kind of betrays the xenophobia in his mindset.

“If everybody is thinking like him, there would be no one Nigeria. If he is trying to discourage southerners from investing in the north, it will not be to his advantage.

“It is unfortunate that he made the remarks.”

Asked what the group would do next in the face of the development, Ogbonnia said: “I don’t want to believe that man is speaking for the whole north. There is no way Ohanaeze will hold a meeting because of Mettawale’s remark, because I am sure he is not speaking for the whole north.

“Ohanaeze will only hold a meeting when you say Afenifere said something or when Arewa said something. We are disappointed with his remark. I know that a lot of northerners are not happy with what he said.”


PANDEF: He’s just reckless

The National Publicity Secretary of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Hon Ken Robinson, described Matawalle’s statement as not only reckless but irresponsible.

He said: “Nobody expected that from a governor. Such statements are condemnable. They are not statements that people who call themselves leaders or governors should make against the background of what is happening in the country.

“What we want to ask the governor of Zamfara State is that all the kidnapping by the bandits and all the ransom that they are paying to them, is it being carried out or perpetrated by people from the south?

“Is it that he can tolerate students, elderly women and men being kidnapped and ransom being paid to bandits?

“Is that not condemnable to him that he could say that isolated cases of killing and in cases people responding to their women being molested, people being killed and kidnapped being considered as tolerating the south? It is unacceptable. The fact is that Nigeria is at war with itself.

“As a governor who is the chief security officer of the state, he should be ashamed of himself, to say the least, and I say this with all sense of responsibility.

“As the sitting governor of the state where bandits have a field day, they kidnap hundreds of school children and a few days later they are released and they are free to do whatever they like, he is talking about tolerating southerners. Who is he tolerating? He is tolerating bandits or decent and innocent Nigerians across the country.

“We completely condemn that statement and we call on people, more responsible governors from the northern part of the country, to work together with patriotic citizens of Nigeria to help the federal government to up its game.

“We cannot as responsible citizens continue to play the ostrich. People must sit down, accept responsibility, re-evaluate the way the country is going and make changes,” he added.

The PANDEF spokesman noted that what is happening in the country today is “that we are harvesting the seed of hatred, discrimination, injustice that we have been sowing over the years.

“This is not the full harvest. This is why the federal government and people like Matawalle should discard this irresponsible attitude and this grandstanding and face reality. The federal government should face reality and provide security for the lives and properties of Nigerians.”

We should continue to live in peace –Igbo Community Welfare Association

The Igbo Community Welfare Association (ICWA) in Kaduna State said all Nigerians should continue to live in peace.

Speaking for the group, one ot its leaders, Chris Nnoli, deplored recent attacks on northerners in parts of the south.

“We condemn it in its entirety and urge the federal and state governments to strengthen their tentacles towards protecting the citizens of our country,” he said.

He sympathised with the various families all over the country who have lost their relations over “the several impunity attacks rendered by hoodlums.”

He also asked all Nigerians to “join hands together towards peaceful co-existence, unity and development of our great country Nigeria irrespective of our religious or tribal positions.”

He’s in order, says Arewa youth

However, the leader of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Comrade Shetima Yerima, said the Zamfara State governor’s statement was in order.

“He made the statement in the best interest of the country,” Yerima told newsmen yesterday.

“That we choose not to act does not in any way mean we are weak. No.

“We choose to be calm and peaceful so that the country can be stabilised because we still have faith in the country.

“We are saying that all this must be stopped. We must change our attitude and approaches towards what we feel about our country.”

Dismissing allegations of kidnapping and killing in the south are perpetrated mainly by herders, Yerima rhetorically asked: “Is kidnapping not happening in the north too? Are we not suffering all that on a daily basis? Are you saying that all those kidnapping raping and maiming in the south are northerners?

“Seventy per cent of them are from the south. Do we now refer to those killing in the north as people from the south? Please, let us be more objective and stop making mockery of ourselves.

“How can somebody just think that all the crimes being perpetrated are targeted at the south?”

He also frowned at protests by some Nigerians against President Muhammadu Buhari in London.