The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has said that northerners living in the Southwest geo-political zone of the country would not succumb to threats and harassment by some groups and individuals in the region.
NEF in a statement yesterday by its spokesperson, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, claimed that some private individuals and groups in the Southwest were being tempted to harass and intimidate other citizens.
While describing the activities of such groups as illegal, the forum noted that northerners would not accept to live and pursue their livelihoods in the Southwest only with their approval.
The forum, however, advised northerners to continue to live in peace with their host communities and explore all avenues to improve better inter-communal relations.
The forum also hailed the decision of the leadership of the Amalgamated Union of Traders and Cattle Breeders Association Union (AUTCBAU) to suspend its blockade of food supply to the South.
The statement read in part: “The Forum welcomes the decision of the Federal Government to address a major and prolonged grievance of transporters over multiple taxation and extortion on federal highways along the country’s eastern corridor all the way from Borno through Adamawa to the states in the Southeast and South-south.
“These illegal checkpoints numbering more than 100 had been pronounced as illegal, yet they had been tolerated by all authorities. Their effects had been to stifle trade and massively raise the cost of transporting food items and cattle. The Forum hopes that this decision will be enforced comprehensively and immediately.
“The Forum is disturbed by the visible involvement of a private citizen identified as supporting threats to security of northern communities in the Southwest in the discussions preceding the resolution of the strike, and the mention of a number of people who had been instrumental to creating intense hostility around northerners living in the Southwest.”
“Indeed, some of the persons mentioned as having been contacted to give assurances to northern traders, herders and transporters have been fingered by the police as being involved in criminal activities against northerners in the Southwest.
“The Forum rejects the idea that the Federal Government or its agents could encourage the outsourcing of its duty and responsibility to protect citizens to individuals who are neck-deep in encouraging violence and corruption of communal co-existence.
“The Forum would rather believe that the involvement of these people was contrived to render its purported intervention valueless. In any case, the involvement of private citizens who represent existential threats to citizens in an exercise designed to give them assurances that they could be safe is abhorrent and unacceptable.