Nasir el-Rufai, governor of Kaduna, has condemned what he describes as the “unlawful eviction” of citizens, stating that every Nigerian reserves the right to choose where to reside.
His comments come amid calls for herders to leave some parts of the country, over concerns related to insecurity.
First in the series of recent notices was the directive by the Ondo government on January 18, for herders to vacate forest reserves in the state.
Days after the Ondo directive, Sunday Adeyemo, a youth leader better known as Sunday Igboho, had blamed Fulani herders for criminal activities in Ibarapa local government area of Oyo state, and subsequently asked them to vacate the area.
The eviction notice was followed by protesters attacking the Fulani community in Igangan, during which buildings and vehicles were razed. In unclear circumstances, there was a fire outbreak at Igboho’s home in Oyo, days after the notice expired.
Igboho had also extended the notice to all states of the south-west, asking the herders to leave.
The most recent eviction notice was issued on Wednesday, when residents took to the streets of Bayelsa and Edo to demand that herders leave their communities.
However, in a statement issued on Wednesday, el-Rufai condemned the calls for eviction, and urged state governors to take a stand before the situation degenerates into anarchy.
“The government of Kaduna State notes with grave concern, video clips circulating on social media platforms like WhatsApp in which citizens of a particular ethnicity are being massacred and their properties destroyed in parts of Nigeria. This is coming amidst avoidable rhetoric, frenzied ethnic profiling and unlawful eviction of citizens from their places of domicile,” the statement reads.
“Many citizens of Kaduna State have reached out to me as their governor to confirm the authenticity of these video clips. Some allege that these incidents have the support of leaders of the places where attacks have occurred. While I am unable to confirm the authenticity of the video clips, their impact on the peaceful coexistence of our people is a source of concern.
“On behalf of the Government of Kaduna State, I call on all Nigerians living in our State to respect law and order and the rights of all citizens to live in peace and security wherever they reside or work. I appeal to my colleagues governing other States in our country to make similar statements, and disavow these attacks and massacres.
“We must avoid anarchy and vigorously promote the rule of law and the right of all citizens to life, liberty and livelihoods wherever they choose to reside.
“Elected and appointed public leaders across the country must act on their constitutional obligations to protect all citizens, uphold order, and contribute to a climate for peaceful resolution of all issues.”