Pressure on Okowa 7 days after, as Delta youths mobilize for war with Fulani jihadists

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About seven days after the Fulani Jihadists issued a threat letter to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, the youths across the state have not given up mobilization for war with the jihadists despite efforts to calm the situation after the provocative letter. While Governor Okowa is yet to make an official statement on the threat letter, there has been pressure on the governor to pacify the youths and other stakeholders to have restraints after notable Fulani stakeholders have denounced the threat letter, washing their hands of the jihadists and their mission.

Fulani jihadists had in a threat letter, issued 72 hours ultimatum to Governor Okowa to withdraw his support for the ban on open grazing declared by Southern Governors at a meeting penultimate week in Asaba, Delta State. The jihadists threatened attacks on Asaba and Agbor after the 72 hours ultimatum, accepting responsibility for the inferno at the federal secretariat in Asaba.

It was gathered that even after the 72 hours ultimatum have elapsed, youths in various communities of Delta State are yet to give their mobilization for war with the Fulani jihadists, insisting that it will be in their interests to be on red alert, ever prepared to return fire for fire on the slightest attack in any part of the state.  The preparation has subsisted even after the Fulani and Hausa community in Delta State had declared they are not part of the insecurity threat, demanding the government to conduct thorough investigation into the threat letter to the governor.

Also, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) had denied any link to the threat letter of the Fulani jihadists.

The National Secretary of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Othman Ngelzarma, had stated: “Such statement that comes from faceless unknown groups shouldn’t be given any serious consideration. I believe this statement must be coming from mischief makers, people who are out to tarnish the image of the Fulanis.

“It is because of such negative profiling by the media that make us believe that the anti-open grazing laws being intended to be promulgated by the Southern states are not laws stopping open grazing, they are laws against Fulanis living in the southern part of the country.

“The Northern governors must be up and doing and also begin to open discussions with their southern counterparts for them to put their heads together and come up with a solution.”

However, Youth leaders in some communities who spoke to this Reporter, were of the view that the people identified with the security threat cannot be trusted, insisting that they cannot leave anything to change, essentially, such a threat that relates to killing of innocent persons and destruction of property. They stated that they have been holding meetings with youth leaders in various communities on the threat. They, however, declared their willingness to live in peace with the Fulani/Hausa nationals resident in the state and going about their legitimate businesses and trades without violence.

Meanwhile, there were indications that the Delta State Governor, Okowa, may have been mediating to restrain the youths from violent uprising, particularly, the groups that issued spontaneous counter-threats. Some have noted that since the resident northern community in the state have taken responsibility and ownership of the peace building process, reactions should be restricted to the trouble shooters.

The National Association of Polytechnic Students (NAPS), had in an open letter of counter-threat by the Senate President, Comrade Dio Oghale Emeka Rex, to President Muhammadu Buhari, issued a seven-day ultimatum to speak on the Fulani Jihadists threat to attack Asaba, Delta State capital, and Agbor.

The NAPS leadership had in the letter declared inter alia: “Mr. President, the National Association of Polytechnic Students is the apex body governing all students studying in Polytechnics, Monotechnics, Colleges of Technology and all other allied institutions awarding National and Higher National Diploma certificate across the six geopolitical zones of the federation and diaspora.

“The association which is the second largest students movement in Africa continent, with the conglomeration of all SUG Presidents within the Polytechnic divide as Senators, forming the Senate Assembly with over 40.1 million armless battalion of students as membership strength, which has been in the vanguard of campaign for equity, quality leadership development, free and qualitative education at all levels through orientations, advocacy, capacity building, constructive agitations, justice and good governance, for over two decades.

“The contribution of our noble Association in bringing about our nascent democracy cannot be over emphasized as our cardinal objectives include coordinating inter school activities, promoting, projecting and protecting the legitimate rights of the students.

“Your Excellency, we wish to refer to the above subject matters, the Senate leadership received distress calls from her teaming members, particularly Polytechnic Students in Delta state, the host state of the NAPS Senate Secretariat concerning a trending and online circulating release issued by Fulani Jihadists Group, claiming to unleash terrors on unsuspecting Deltans which the NAPS members cover a good number in the state.

“Your Excellency, it is pathetic to note that your administration is beginning to fail Nigerian students which you swore an oath to protect both their lives and properties. Your Excellency the Nigerian students movement wish to state unequivocally that you should as a matter of urgency address the security threats in our country and most, particularly, Delta State and ensure that who or those involved in perpetuating this unrest are brought to book.

“It is our duty as an association to advocate and press for the demands of the betterment and general welfare of our students and parents, the leadership will not hesitate to mobilize its teeming members nationwide to resist any action that is tantamount to causing havoc and disrupting our academic calendar.

“In as much as NAPS is a law-abiding association, our silence shouldn’t be taken for weakness. We also acknowledge the efforts of His Excellency, Senator Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, the Executive Governor of Delta State to tackle insecurity in the state and our campuses amidst scarce resources which has earned him the honor as the most student friendly governor.

“We as association are not to be mute over the threat against our collective patrimony by the Fulani Jihadists sect.

“Your excellency failure to address the issue, our association shall shutdown all tertiary institutions in the country and Government activities in all federal ministries.

“On this note, the NAPS Senate leadership wish to call on you, Your Excellency, and seize this medium to issue a seven (7) day ultimatum for your excellency to rise to the occasion and address this particular threat by the FULANI JIHADIST to avoid security breach and unforeseen unrest on or before Monday 21st of June 2021; and upon the expiration of our ultimatum, Your Excellency, fails to address this threat to lives and bring the culprits to book, the leadership will not hesitate to take a drastic measure, mobilize, use all legal and constitutional actions to press our demands home.

“Conclusively, the leadership wishes to, therefore, encourage all our teeming supporters and members and all residents in Delta State to remain resolute, law abiding and go about their day-to-day activities, not to be distracted by this security threat but be rest assured of our utmost solidarity.”

The Acting President of Urhobo Youth Leaders Association (UYLA), Chief Anthony Ofoni, had also in a statement after an emergency meeting of the UYLA Executive Committee at Otor-Udu, Udu Local Government Area, Delta Central Senatorial District, mandated Urhobo youths in the 24 kingdoms and other ethnic youth groups in Delta State to mobilise into the farmlands and evict the Fulani herdsmen.

The UYLA Acting President, Chief Anthony Ofoni, had declared: “This is to inform the Fulanis of Usman Dan Fodio leadership that after 48 hours, open grazing of cattle by nomadic people will be forbidden in Delta Central Senatorial District.

“The safety of herdsmen and their cattle still in the region after the expiration of the notice will no longer be guaranteed because they have sacked some of our communities in Uwheru and killed many Abraka farmers and we viewed the threat as a big insult to all Deltans.”

National Daily gathered that as tension began to build towards the expiration of the various ultimatum issued by UYLA, NAPS leadership and other groups, the last which elapsed last Monday, the state government began to intervene urgently to pacify the students’ leaders and other youths and persuade them to withhold actions since the state has been peaceful after the expiration of the Fulani jihadists threat letter. Local government chairmen were also said to be brought in by the state government to interface with youth leaders in the various communities across the state.

The intervention of the state government was gathered to be the reason for the current relative peace in the state.

The Commissioner of Police of the Delta State Police Command, Ari Mohammed Ali, had appealed for calm, assuring residents of the state of safety.

The CP had in a statement by the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, DSP Bright Edafe, declared: “The attention of the Command has been drawn to a recent publication making rounds purportedly published by the Fulani’s of Usman dan Fodio leadership tagged “FULANI JIHADIST WARNINGS” and pasted in various locations round Asaba and Agbor, to be precise.

“The Command under the watch of CP Ari Muhammed Ali is ever committed in its responsibility of providing security for all Deltans. “Members of the public should ignore the said publication which must have been pasted by miscreants with the aim of creating panic in the state.

“All modalities have been put in place to forestall any of such occurrence. All residents are advised to go about their lawful businesses without fear or panic.

“Undercover Police operatives have been deployed across the state for the purpose of gathering intelligence.

“Other proactive measures have been put in place by the Command.

“Members of the public are also urged to continue to partner with the police, by providing useful information that will help in policing the state.”

While there has been no attack on any part of the state since the threat, stakeholders have been on red alert, installing machinery for round-the-clock surveillance.