Ohaneze Ndigbo, the apex Igbo socio-political organisation, has said no Fulani or Northerner has been given a quit notice in the South-Eastern region, contrary to widespread rumours making the rounds that herdsmen have been ordered to leave Igboland.
The group also called on the elite in the North and South to “desist from inflammatory comments and narratives that could stoke conflict and inflame passions.”
In a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia on Thursday, Ohanaeze Ndigbo said though it condemns the activities of herdsmen instigating crises in Igboland through the invasion of farmlands, vandalism, rape, and murders, they have not been told to leave as they have a right to live anywhere they want as long as they are law abiding.
The group tasked Northern leaders to “work for a return to the lawful herdsmen with whom Igbo communities have interacted in various Hausa settlements across the South-East over many decades.”
The statement reads:
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo is concerned about recent developments in Nigeria around the activities of herdsmen of Fulani stock said to be foreigners from outside Nigeria who have caused damage across the land and elicited negative reactions.
“While that is disturbing enough, we are distressed by the tenor of conversations on the subject pushed by persons who should otherwise do better.
“Many are framing it as a North versus South conflict. This is not correct. Ohanaeze Ndigbo calls on the elite of Northern and Southern Nigeria to desist from inflammatory rhetoric and the canvassing of narratives that could stoke conflict and inflame passions. No one would gain from the consequences of such idle chatter but Nigeria will lose big time.
“Specifically, we assert that no one in the South, not the least the South-East, has issued quit orders to all Northerners or will ask Northerners to leave. Ndigbo are nation builders and not destroyers.
“Rather, what has happened in both the South-East, the South-South, and the Middle Belt of Nigeria are plaintive cries of citizens and their governments for lawless inhabitants of our forests and lands to stop criminality.
“Surely, no upright and well-meaning citizens will dispute the imperative of having law-abiding citizens who pursue their vocations without doing harm to others.
“We declare that our people demand the observance of due process by all groups. We deplore rash and unlawful retaliatory actions. We condemn even more the activities of herdsmen instigating crises in the land through the invasion of farmlands, vandalism, rape, and murders.
“We call on Northern leaders to enjoin a return to the lawful herdsmen with whom our communities have interacted in various Hausa settlements across the South-East over many decades. It is the same call that citizens are making in the South-West, South-South and the North-Central.”