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Governors must defend citizens’ rights to live anywhere in Nigeria – El-Rufai

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Without addressing the root cause of the feud between Fulanis and their host communities, Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, on Wednesday condemned the eviction of Nigerians of Fulani extraction from parts of the country and challenged state governors to stop the trend.

The governor gave the advice in a statement on Wednesday in which he decried the hostility some Nigerians have attracted in parts of the country.

Last week, a Yoruba activist, Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Sunday Igboho, had chased out Fulani settlers from Ibarapa area of Oyo State after earlier giving them seven days to leave the area.

Also, Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu ordered cattle herders to vacate government forest reserves which were illegally occupied.

But Mr El-Rufai on Wednesday urged the government to uphold the right of every citizen to live and pursue legitimate livelihoods wherever they choose.

“On behalf of the Government of Kaduna State, I call on all Nigerians living in our state to respect law and order and the rights of all citizens to live in peace and security wherever they reside or work.

“I appeal to my colleagues governing other states in our country to make similar statements, and disavow these attacks and massacres,” Mr El-Rufai said.

He said the Kaduna government noted with grave concern video clips circulating on social media platforms like WhatsApp in which citizens of a particular ethnicity were being massacred and their properties destroyed in parts of Nigeria.

“Many citizens of Kaduna State have reached out to me as their governor to confirm the authenticity of these video clips. Some allege that these incidents have the support of leaders of the places where attacks have occurred.

“While I am unable to confirm the authenticity of the video clips, their impact on the peaceful coexistence of our people is a source of concern.”

Mr El-Rufai urged Nigerians to avoid anarchy and promote the rule of law and the right of all citizens to life, liberty and livelihoods wherever they choose to reside.

“Elected and appointed public leaders across the country must act on their constitutional obligations to protect all citizens, uphold order, and contribute to a climate for peaceful resolution of all issues.

“In Kaduna State, we are learning from decades of unfortunate and needless experiences. We have faced the tragic manifestations of the indigene-settler divide.

“This has been compounded by criminal activities that often have fatal consequences. But the victims of criminal actions like banditry and kidnapping in our state cut across all ethnic and religious groups.

“We have resisted the attempt to tar all members of any ethnic group for the criminal actions of some of their members. At all times, our government has upheld the right of every citizen to live and pursue legitimate livelihoods wherever they choose.”

The governor recalled ordering the arrest of persons who had issued an unlawful eviction notice in the state to citizens of a ”certain ethnicity” in 2017.

“The impunity and calculated disregard for a common humanity that prompted such irresponsible rhetoric is sadly at play again.

“The genuine fears felt by people across the country for their safety and security imposes a responsibility on all leaders to ensure that these anxieties are assuaged and urgent steps are taken to relieve human misery and stop the criminal actions that menace our citizens and their property. This should be the top priority.”

He called on leaders at all levels ”to engage people and ensure that people do not seize the opportunity for selfish agenda”.

“We cannot allow, by inaction or otherwise, the reign of anarchy where fear creates a tragic momentum of violence, blurring the lines between victims and perpetrators and complicating a difficult moment.”

He urged the National Assembly ”to expedite action on constitutional amendments that would usher in state and community policing”.

“We should not allow the criminal actions of insurgents and bandits to tear our country apart. We should not be seduced into the dangerous passion of blaming innocents, declaring them guilty of the crimes of others, evicting them, killing and destroying their property.

“In difficult times, we must uphold the right of everyone to live, with security and safety. The frenzy of ethnic labelling makes solutions difficult and can only guarantee disorder, violence and pain.

“Governments and security agencies must rein in all non-state actors, tackle hateful rhetoric and protect all communities. Those that engage in criminal acts must be arrested and prosecuted without regard to their ethnic or religious persuasion.

“Civic leaders, across ethnic and religious lines, in all our communities should also help calm the heated passions of the moment, lest the few destroy the many, turning victims of crime against each other, to the delight of those who do not mean well.

“We cannot quench one fire by setting more places ablaze. Let us reject the path of disorder, marginalise, expose and prosecute all criminals and promote peace.”

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