Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, has condemned the “unlawful eviction” of herders across the country, stating that every citizen 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.
“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,” he said in a statement issued on Wednesday.
“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.
“In Kaduna State, we are learning from decades of unfortunate and needless experiences. We have faced the tragic manifestations of the indigene-settler divide. This has been compounded by criminal activities that often have fatal consequences.
“The victims of criminal actions like banditry and kidnapping in our state cut across all ethnic and religious groups, we have resisted the attempt to tar all members of any ethnic group for the criminal actions of some of their members. At all times, our government has upheld the right of every citizen to live and pursue legitimate livelihoods wherever they choose.
“This is why we ordered the arrest of persons who issued an unlawful eviction notice to our citizens of a certain ethnicity in 2017. The impunity and calculated disregard for a common humanity that prompted such irresponsible rhetoric is sadly at play again.
“The genuine fears felt by people across the country for their safety and security imposes a responsibility on all leaders to ensure that these anxieties are assuaged and urgent steps taken to relieve human misery and stop the criminal actions that menace our citizens and their property. This should be the top priority.
“It is time for governments and leaders at all levels to step in, exercise firm action, engage people and ensure that the responsibility these dire times demand are not derailed by those who only see opportunity for their own myopic agendas. We cannot allow, by inaction or otherwise, the reign of anarchy where fear creates a tragic momentum of violence, blurring the lines between victims and perpetrators and complicating a difficult moment. We urge our representatives in the National Assembly to expedite action on the Constitutional amendments that would usher in State and community policing as this is the ultimate panacea for effective law enforcement nationwide.
“We should not allow the criminal actions of insurgents and bandits to tear our country apart. We should not be seduced into the dangerous passion of blaming innocents, declaring them guilty of the crimes of others, evicting them, killing and destroying their property. In difficult times, we must uphold the right of everyone to live, with security and safety.
“The frenzy of ethnic labeling makes solutions difficult and can only guarantee disorder, violence and pain.
“Governments and security agencies must rein in all non-state actors, tackle hateful rhetoric and protect all communities. Those that engage in criminal acts must be arrested and prosecuted without regard to their ethnic or religious persuasion.
“Civic leaders, across ethnic and religious lines, in all our communities should also help calm the heated passions of the moment, lest the few destroy the many, turning victims of crime against each other, to the delight of those who do not mean well. We cannot quench one fire by setting more places ablaze. Let us reject the path of disorder, marginalise, expose and prosecute all criminals and promote peace.