The former vice-chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, said he would not retract his earlier statement on the matter.
The Convener of the NEF made the statement while receiving former lawmaker representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District in the 8th Senate, Shehu Sani, in Kaduna on Wednesday.
NEF and the Coalition of the Northern Groups had last week (Tuesday) ordered the Fulani herdsmen to leave the southern parts of the country and return to the north where their safety and those of their cows would be guaranteed.
Sani said the NEF statement had generated a series of controversies across the length and breadth of the country.
“The nation of ours has passed through a series of crises; it is imperative that we speak with precaution. I appeal as your son that such recommendation, or position taken by you for such demands should be rescinded in the interest of peace and progress of this country and so that normalcy returns to Nigeria and miscreants won’t see this as a reason to exploit this for their personal agenda,” he said.
However, Abdullahi in his response, said there was nothing to retract from his statement and the herdsmen should return home if their security was not guaranteed in the south.
He also said that even the South-East governors had issued a statement that, “They don’t want to see cattle on roads, but they want to see cattle in lorries being taken to their market to buy.”
He said he was not fully quoted in the conference, maintaining that, “There was an ‘IF’ in my statement. I was only advising the herdsmen to return if there is no protection for them. Everything in Nigeria is politicized. In addition to politics, religion has filtered in. And now every headache you have in your house has now been caused by herdsmen. The insecurity of this country at every nook and cranny is now caused by the herdsmen. This is clearly politics.
“When the initial crisis started, largely from the non-grazing law established in Benue, we drew the attention of the Northern Elders’ Forum member who was Paul Unongo to it, that his state is about to establish a grazing law. We appealed to him to tell the Benue government to withhold the law until we make professional inputs. By the time we finished our gathering, our findings, Benue has already started implementation and crises erupted there.
“At some point when things were really getting out of hand, the Vice President called Lamido of Adamawa among others and…. to see the Vice President. His appeal was on how to stop the menace as the Fulani were also fighting back.
“I raised my hand and reminded the Vice President that the government was not being fair in its treatment of Fulani vis-a-vis farmers. I told him that few weeks earlier after the crisis in Adamawa State, the Vice President was in Numan when the Fulani rampaged the villages in the area in reprisal to their women and children killed.
“I asked him that when he visited Yola, did he go to the Fulani camp where atrocities were committed and he said No, because there was no road to the Fulani settlement. This is what they are doing that clearly suggests that there is bias in the way they are handling this matter.” (Punch)