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Stop killings now, NEF tells FG

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The Northern Elders Forum has called on the Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government to immediately put an end to the killings in Benue and other states which have left scores dead and hundreds displaced.

The Deputy Chairman of NEF, Mr. Sani Daura, said this in a statement on Saturday.

The northern elders asked the Federal Government to handle the situation just as it had been tackling the crisis in the North-East.

The statement read in part, “The Northern Elders Forum hereby condemns in totality all forms of unnecessary attacks or reprisals carried out by any ethnic group, in whatever guise in Kaduna, Plateau, Rivers, Zamfara, Nasarawa, Benue and Kogi states and indeed other parts of the North and the country generally.

“We call on the government to urgently act against such wanton lawlessness by identifying the perpetrators and dealing with them in the same way other disturbances in the North-East and other parts of the country are being dealt with.”

The forum also berated its Chairman, Chief Paul Unongo, for criticising Buhari and a former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, over the herdsmen crisis.

Unongo, while speaking in his personal capacity, had told Saturday PUNCH that Atiku was the chief financier of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, the apex body of Fulani herdsmen.

He had also accused Buhari’s aides of giving the President wrong advice on the issue.

However, NEF, while distancing itself from Unongo, said its chairman did not speak on its behalf.

It added, “The attention of the NEF has been drawn to yet another report of partisan statement in the Punch newspaper of January 6, 2018 made by its leader, Chief Paul Unongo against a former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, and another claim against President Buhari.

“The forum regrets to have to publicly disown yet another controversy by Unongo in this recent time. While Chief Unongo reserves the right to hold and express personal views against any issue, he, however, does not have the right to drag the entire forum into unnecessary controversies at will.

“We, therefore, advise that if Chief Unongo has any grudges against any personality or group, he should vent them in his personal capacity and not use the platform of the forum.

“Again, we are not aware that President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to heed our advice on this matter as there was never any such advice contrary to Unongo’s claim in the report.”

In a related development, the police said they had deployed additional five units of riot policemen, Special Forces, helicopters for aerial surveillance as well as Special Police Joint Intelligence and Investigation Teams in  Benue and Rivers states respectively.

The police spokesman, Jimoh Moshood, said in a statement that the commissioners of police and personnel in the affected states had been placed on red alert and 24-hour crime prevention and visibility patrols.

He said the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, had ordered the CPs in charge of Benue, Rivers and other contiguous states, their supervising assistant inspectors general of police and personnel to be on the alert with immediate effect to prevent further attacks by the herdsmen.

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