By Our Reporter
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) which made the call also cautioned South-West leaders to consider many Yoruba people living in the northern region of the country when issuing quit notices to northerners.
This was contained in a statement by the director of the organisation, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, on Sunday, titled, ‘Herdsmen versus Yoruba: MURIC calls for dialogue’.
Akintola also called on security agencies to arrest criminal herdsmen in the South-West.
Akintola called for dialogue and wider consultation, advising the Nigerian government to apply caution in handling the “fragile situation”.
The statement reads in part, “The Igangan incident must be condemned by all lovers of peace. But at the same time, we cannot close our eyes to the pain and suffering of farmers and indigenes of the area whom criminals see as soft targets for kidnapping, armed robbery, etc.
“It is, however, crystal clear that it is not a religious matter, though some have been misled into labelling it a Hausa-Fulani affair. Our focus must be the criminals, not any tribe.
“While we do not endorse violence, we opine that people whose farms have been destroyed have the right to express indignation. In the same manner, those whose relations or friends have fallen victim to criminal activities like kidnapping and armed robbery are justified to speak up. The only difference here is that no single tribe should be held responsible for all the crimes.
“This is because criminals abound in all faiths and tribes everywhere in the world, not only in Nigeria. We should therefore address crime and criminals. We should target kidnappers and armed robbers, not any particular ethnicity. Those who make the mistake of profiling people of certain tribes will end up hurting decent elements within that tribe and this is against the law of natural justice.
“With particular reference to the Oyo and Ondo State incidents and the quit notices, MURIC reminds people of the South-West that the crisis cuts across ethnicities. The same herdsmen are involved in several states. Benue, Kaduna, Adamawa, Taraba, Enugu, Onitsha, PortHarcourt, etc., are facing the same problem of herdsmen versus farmers. In essence, the phenomenon is general and not targeted at the Yoruba per se.
“Almost all the northern states face the herdsmen versus farmers conflict, banditry, and kidnapping. People of the South-West must consider the fate of thousands of their kinsmen from Ogbomoso, Offa, Iwo, Ibadan, etc., who have resided in the North for more than 100 years before insisting on a general expulsion of northerners.”
Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, had last week given herdsmen in the state seven days to vacate forest reserves in the state, blaming some of them for using the forests to commit crime.
Also in Oyo State, an agitator for Oodua Republic, Sunday Igboho, last week gave Fulani people in the Ibarapa area of the state to leave within seven days, blaming them for the increasing cases of kidnapping and killing in the area.