Elder statesman and leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Chief Edwin Clark, has warned that the people of the Niger Delta and indeed Southern Nigeria will resist any attempt by suspected “Fulani Jihadists” to attack the region with all ‘available might’.
Clark, who is also the leader and chairman of Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF), called on the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government to call those behind the threat to order.
It will be recalled that a group of Fulani Jihadists in a statement on Sunday had given Delta State governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, a 72-hour ultimatum to withdraw his support for the ban on open grazing in the state.
The Fulani fundamentalists warned that failure by Governor Okowa to suspend the ban on open grazing in the state, their warlords who are already present in the state, will unleash mayhem and attack Asaba, the state capital and Agbor area of the state.
The Fulani Jihadists’ is coming weeks after governors of the southern states of the country unanimously ban open grazing of cattle in the region as one of the panaceas for the worsening insecurity in the region.
The southern governors at the meeting held in Asaba, Delta capital, declared the open grazing by herdsmen in the country particularly in the Southern part of the country was no longer sustainable for the security and unity of the Nigeria State.
But Chief Clark, a leader of the South-South people, at a press conference in Abuja on Monday, 14th June 2021 condemned the threat especially the ultimatum given to Governor Okowa to suspend ban on open grazing in the state by the Fulani Jihadists group.
He said if the threat by the group is carried out, it would be resisted in “such a way that will make it definitely impossible for the Federal Government security forces to cope with, should this action escalate.”
“We have watched with restrained patience, the reckless and irresponsible utterances of the so-called Fulani Jihadists and the Miyetti Allah, who believe that they own Nigeria from the North to the sea, and therefore, have the impunity to warn the State Governments, particularly the Delta State Government and Governor to withdraw, within 72 hours, his decision against open grazing, recently taken by the 17 Governors of the South, in a meeting held in Asaba.
“We have decided to issue this advice and warning to the Federal Government and the Fulani Jihadists that the people of the Niger Delta will resist in such a way that will make it definitely impossible for the Federal Government security forces to cope with, should this action escalate.
“We are reacting because this is not the first time Fulanis and their collaborators have insulted our people. It will be remembered that sometime in 2009, a Legislature from Kebbi State in the National Assembly asked the Federal Government to resettle the people of the Niger Delta in another territory to create a conducive and unhindered atmosphere for the oil companies to operate.
“That we warn, the resulting consequences will be very unpleasant to them. The Federal Government has continuously condoned them and behaving as if the Federal Government is the one giving support to these Fulani Jihadists and the Miyetti Allah because what is happening today in Nigeria, which has resulted in unprecedented insecurity and bad governance in Nigeria, will be worse, if they are not called to order by the Federal Government within the shortest time possible”, Chief Clark warned.
While describing the threat and ultimatum to Delta State Governor as insulting and provocative, the former minister of information noted that the decision of the southern governors was unanimously endorsed and backed by leaders of the various ethnic nationalities in the region.
He added further, “For some Fulani Jihadists to issue such insulting and provocative 72 hours’ notice to the Governor of Delta State, without the Federal Government and the elders of northern extraction, ever calling them to order, is most disappointing, considering that the same Northern elders were quick to accuse Igbo leaders of not publicly condemning IPOB. Such impudence of the Fulani Jihadists will no longer be tolerated. They even claimed responsibility for the burning/bombing of the Secretariat in Asaba which also houses the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) Office.
“The decision on open grazing and other decisions taken on national interest by the 17 Southern Governors received the full support of the people of Southern Nigeria, particularly the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo of the South East, PANDEF of the South South and the Afenifere of the South West.
“We will no longer tolerate hate and divisive statements targeted at deriding and insulting others, from these Fulanis who believe Nigeria is exclusively theirs and other Nigerians are their subjects, and not their fellow citizens.
“In order to maintain and promote a peaceful Nigeria, I was among other 50 prominent Nigerians including former Heads of State, Traditional Rulers, former Chief Justices, that met for 9 hours, under the leadership of former President Olusegun Obasanjo recently on Thursday, 11th June, 2021, at the Conference Hall of the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, where valuable decisions were taken to maintain and sustain the unity of this country.
“I repeat, on behalf of Southerners, that open grazing has been finally buried in Southern Nigeria. For Mr. President to insist that open grazing should continue whereby he asked the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to dig out the Gazette that approved open grazing in the First Republic is unbelievable, unpatriotic and unacceptable to our people.
“Mr. President should regard himself as President of one Nigeria, and not as President of the Fulanis or the Northerners. We shall resist, at all cost, any attempt to subjugate us as citizens of one Nigeria.”
By Ovie Okpare