Leaders of the Afenifere in the south west, PANDEF in the south-south, Ohaneze in the south east and others in the Middle Belt, have written the former Head of State, Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar, notifying him of their resolution to boycott a security roundtable meeting scheduled to hold in Minna, Niger State from 29th – 30th July, 2019, citing the participation of Miyetti Allah leaders as reason for the boycott.
They had noted that Miyetti Allah is not a cultural group but a trade association like others who are farmers, fishermen, spare parts dealers, etc. excluded from the meeting by the Convener.
The Southern and Middle Belt leaders acknowledged the participation of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and Northern Elders Forum (NEF), which they said are true representatives of cultural groups.
The Southern and Middle Belt leaders in a letter signed by
Chief E.K Clark, PANDEF, Chief Ayo Adebanjo,
Afenifere, Chief John Nwodo, President General, Ohanaeze, Dr. Pogu Bitrus, President, Middle Belt Forum, however, assured Abdusalami Abubakar of their cooperation in ensuring peace and security in Nigeria.
The letter reads:
Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar (GCFR)
Former Head of State,
Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Re: Roundtable on National Issues and Security
Greetings to you from the leaders of Southern and Middle Leaders Forum.
We individually received your invitation to the above event holding in Minna…
We thank you for your interest in the affairs of our country which made us to accept your invitation in good faith.
It was in the thick of our preparations for the journey that fuller details of the roundtable came to our attention, some aspect of which has necessitated this last minute communication with you.
We observed that the roundtable will have in attendance all the National Security Heads, Chief of Defense Staff and notable Nigerians; underscoring the high level of the dialogue.
We, however, noticed further that in your category of Socio-cultural organisations invited, you listed the following:
4 MIDDLE BELT FORUM
5 AREWA CONSULTATIVE FORUM
6 NORTHERN ELDERS FORUM
We were comfortable up to that point until we saw the following:
- Gan Allah Fulani Development Association.
- Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria.
While we do not know the members of the first group, the lumping of Miyetti Allah, a trade association for cattle herders and whose members have been accused of various violations of rights, including life, across the country sends worrying signal to us.
It falls into the categorisation of our respected socio-cultural platforms with Miyetti Allah by Presidential Spokesman, Garba Shehu.
We consider the above a grave insult on our bodies and our coming to a roundtable with the group would mean acquiescence to the narrative that put us in the same bracket with those wielding illegal AK-47 all over the country and inflicting terror on fellow citizens.
Even if the above were not the case with Miyetti Allah, it would have been inappropriate to put nationality organisations in the same vehicle with this trade group as there are organisations for fishermen, farmers, poultry owners and spare parts dealers across the country like such who are not invited
Towards this end, we decline participation in the roundtable as scheduled without prejudice to your peace-building activities.
We also regret any inconvenience our decision may have caused you as we know the efforts that go into planning an event like this.
Rest assured of our cooperation in all efforts and dialogues to make Nigeria peaceful, secure and forward moving provided they are organised in a way that does not subtract from our dignity and value.
Once again, we appreciate all your efforts.
Chief E.K Clark
Chief Ayo Adebanjo
For: AFENIFERE LEADER
Chief John Nwodo
PRESIDENT GENERAL, OHANAEZE
Dr Pogu Bitrus
PRESIDENT, MIDDLE BELT FORUM.