The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) says it is the responsibility of security agencies to fish out criminals amongst Fulani herdsmen and not the duty of ethnic champions to usurp the function of the government. NEF Spokesman, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, said this on Tuesday night.
Oyo and Ondo States have been in the eye of the storm lately over security challenges and the moves to check the activities of some herdsmen said to have taken to crime.
A popular Yoruba rights activist, Sunday Adeyemo, well known as Sunday Igboho, had issued a quit notice to herdsmen accused of kidnapping, rape, destruction of farms, and others in the Ibarapa area of Oyo and enforced same.
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State had also said herdsmen must register with the state government or vacate the state’s forest reserves.
But Baba-Ahmed said states must avoid ethnic profiling or identifying a particular crime with a tribe. He said, “There are decent hardworking Fulani who are not criminals in this country and those people must be protected. This idea that all Fulani are criminal is a very dangerous development. It criminalises an entire ethnic group, putting millions of Nigerians under threat. It also creates an image of reality which is not true and it also puts other ethnic groups in danger because all you need to do is to identify a particular crime with an ethnic group.
“If we begin to demonise people and profile an ethnic group and we link them up with a crime, this is dangerous.
“Yes, there is some infiltration among the Fulani, we accept that. We also believe that it is the responsibility of the state to identify that infiltration; it is not up to any ethnic champion or anybody, people cannot assume responsibilities for the state. It is the Nigerian state that should fish out and determine criminals whether Fulani or whatever.
“But if people start usurping the responsibilities of the Nigerian state, chasing people and burning down their homes, their cattle, kill them, harass them, that is not acceptable.”