The Federal government has been asked to opt for fairness, equity and equality of rights for all ethno-religious affiliations as a way to ensure restoration of peace and stability in Nigeria.
A non-government organization, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, made this demand on Wednesday, following disclosure of a highly contentious policy by President Muhammadu Buhari to invest public fund to set up Ruga farming settlements for herdsmen across 12 states.
HURIWA said government needs to even appreciate the import of the United Nations Vienna Declaration of 1993 which states thus:”all human rights are universal, indivisible, inter-dependent and inter-dependent and “democracy, development and respect for human rights are interdependent and mutually reinforcing”.
The Rights group reminded President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration of an outstanding case of unambiguous unfairness and injustice meted out to the largely unarmed Igbo speaking followers of the self-determination group known as Indigenous peoples of Biafra (IPOB) proscribed by the government whereas the hierarchy of Miyetti Allah cattle owners known as MACBAN which actively supports armed Fulani herdsmen is an ally of the Presidency.
These were the conclusions of the leading civil rights advocacy group HURIWA, which also criticized the Federal government over the opaque nature of working out a highly discriminatory settlement policy to benefit only the Fulani speaking ethnicity amidst ballooning poverty, crises of underdevelopment and lack of economic opportunities which afflicts the over 350 ethno-tribal communities that make up Nigeria.
The Rights group says it makes no sense for the Federal government to embark on an adventure of deception and deceits as a way of resolving the growing phenomenon of violence amongst the different ethnicities just as the it expressed doubts on the workability of the one-sided panacea of establishment of settlement for Fulani ethnicity whereas the real victims of the widespread blood cuddling herders’ violence – the farming communities all across the country are left to sulk their wounds unsympathetically.
“What is good for the goose is good for the gander. The unequal treatments of equals by the central government under Presidency of the Fulani born Muhammadu Buhari is at the core of the different ramifications of agitations threatening peace, security and stability of our nation-state. This fundamental injustice incubated and fertilized inside the Presidential villa and publicised as state policy is intrinsically and inherently unconstitutional.
“Fairness, equity and equality of rights as clearly provided for in a plethora of constitutional provisions are the sine qua non for finding lasting, sustainable and effective mutual and harmonious solutions to the crises that have arisen due to the activities of suspected armed Fulani herdsmen targeting farming communities in the country”, HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko said.
HURIWA blamed government at the center squarely for the breakdown of law and order characterised by high crime rate and the widening spectre of armed kidnappings, banditry and dare devilish atrocities unleashed by freelance armed hoodlums all across the Country.
The Rights groups said the piecemeal approach adopted by president Buhari whereby the government occasionally embarks on secretive monologues with only representatives of Fulani ethnicity, cannot deliver the positive and constructive results expected to restore normalcy in the flash points of these incessant armed Fulani attacks.
HURIWA has therefore asked president Buhari to adopt a much more holistic, transparent and open mechanisms such as the convocation of a national security parley whereby credible and transparently chosen leaders of the various communities in Nigeria including the Fulani ethnicity and credible civil rights advocacy groups will meet for at least two days to brainstorm on the most workable panacea to the incessant attacks unleashed by suspected herders targeting farmers just as government must as a matter of legality, arrest, prosecute and punish all the non-state actors responsible for these intermittent but vicious violence.
“The Federal government can’t continue with the divide-and-rule approach that it has adopted but must open up to all the communities so a national funding platforms are created to provide palliatives to all the communities affected by the violence unleashed by armed herdsmen just as these flashpoints are located all across the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria”, HURIWA said.
HURIWA also faulted the discriminatory policy of establishment of settlements for only one ethnic group which offends both the constitution and the land use Act of 1978.
The Rights group said the development of private businesses should be private sector-driven just as it asked that government needs to approach banks and other funding agencies so credible stakeholders needing bail out to set up farming settlements including herders and farmers are assisted with soft loans repayable over a period of time and guaranteed by the Nigerian State.
“This is a much more transparent form of providing funding lifeline than the discriminatory allocation of tax payers money to one ethnicity only because the President is Fulani by biological affinity”, HURIWA concluded.