A new militant group, Movement for the Emancipation and Defence of Niger Delta, MEDND, yesterday, threatened that for anyone killed or facility destroyed in Delta State by suspected Northern fanatics in the name of herdsmen, its fighters would retaliate.
Meanwhile, the leader of Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, SMBLF, Chief Edwin Clark, has warned that the South will resist any attempt to deride it over the recent ban on open grazing declared by the region’s governors.
This came as Urhobo Youth Leaders’ Association, UYLA, issued a 48- hour quit notice to all Fulani herdsmen to immediately stop open grazing and take away their cattle from the Delta Central senatorial district.
Also, National Association of Polytechnic Students, NAPS, has issued a seven-day ultimatum to President Muhammadu Buhari to address the alleged Fulani herdsmen’s threat to attack Asaba and Agbor.
On his part, Delta State Commissioner of Police, Mr Mohammed Ali, Sunday night, assured residents of the state of their safety.
It would be recalled that herdsmen had threatened in a letter, on Sunday, to attack Asaba and Agbor, Delta State, over Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s support for the ban on open grazing in the Southern part of the country.
The herdsmen had also vowed to carry out their threat if Okowa does not withdraw his support for the ban on open grazing within 72 hours.
Meanwhile, efforts to reach the state government for reaction at press time proved abortive.
Meanwhile, reacting to the three-day warning to the governor, MEDND in a statement said: “Our attention has been brought to the threat of some herdsmen, who have given a three- day warning to the Governor of Delta State because he supported the ban of open grazing across the southern states.
“We also saw your taking responsibility for an explosion at the secretariat in Asaba. We are warning that if your threat is made to come to fulfilment, no herdsman will ever exist across the Niger Delta and all oil facilities linked to your people will be brought down. If one soul is lost, 10 of your souls will pay for it. If one facility is destroyed, 10 owned by you will be destroyed.
“We will respond proportionately 10 times whatever you give, the corresponding response will not be limited to the Delta, it may be with your politicians or with your rulers.
“We will launch three rocket launchers and ballistic missiles at any facility of our choice as a warning in seven days if you make bold your threats.
“We do not make cheap our threats, we have shut down the country and we can at any time shut you down. We are the Niger Delta, we stand for the interest of the Niger Delta and we will not allow any coward to threaten us. We fight without running.”
Clark, who addressed newsmen in Abuja, yesterday, said: “We have watched with restrained patience, the reckless and irresponsible utterances of the so-called Fulani Jihadists and the Miyetti Allah, who believe that they own Nigeria from the North to the sea.
“Therefore, they have the impunity to warn the state governments, particularly the Delta State government and the governor to withdraw, within 72 hours, his decision against open grazing, recently taken by the 17 Governors of the South, in a meeting held in Asaba.
“We have decided to issue this advice and warning to the Federal Government and the Fulani Jihadists that the people of the Niger Delta will resist in such a way that will make it impossible for the federal security forces to cope with, should this action escalate.
“We are reacting because this is not the first time Fulanis and their collaborators have insulted our people.
“The Federal Government has continuously condoned them and behaving as if the Federal Government is the one giving support to these Fulani Jihadists and the Miyetti Allah because what is happening today in Nigeria, which has resulted in unprecedented insecurity and bad governance in Nigeria, will be worse if they are not called to order by the Federal Government within the shortest time possible.
“For some Fulani Jihadists to issue such insulting and provocative 72 hours’ notice to the Governor of Delta State, without the Federal Government and the elders of northern extraction, ever calling them to order, is most disappointing, considering that the same Northern elders were quick to accuse Igbo leaders of not publicly condemning IPOB.
“Such impudence of the Fulani Jihadists will no longer be tolerated. They even claimed responsibility for the burning/bombing of the secretariat in Asaba, which also houses the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, office.
“The decision on open grazing and other decisions taken on national interest by the 17 Southern governors received the full support of the people of Southern Nigeria, particularly the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo of the South-East, PANDEF of the South-South and the Afenifere of the South -West.
“We will no longer tolerate hate and divisive statements targeted at deriding and insulting others from those, who believe Nigeria is exclusively theirs and other Nigerians are their subjects, and not their fellow citizens.
“I repeat, on behalf of Southerners, that open grazing has been finally buried in Southern Nigeria. For Mr President to insist that open grazing should continue whereby he asked the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to dig out the gazette that approved open grazing in the First Republic is unbelievable, unpatriotic and unacceptable to our people.
“Mr President should regard himself as President of one Nigeria and not as President of the Fulanis or the Northerners. We shall resist, at all costs, any attempt to subjugate us as citizens of one Nigeria.”
On suggestions that the Buhari’s administration would repossess grazing routes and reserves gazetted in the first republic, Clark said: “Perhaps Mr President is not aware, or he has not been advised by the A-G that the Land Use Act, which vested ownership of land on the state governor is entrenched in the constitution of the country.
“Therefore, any gazette or law passed by any state or National Assembly is and will be null and void because the 1999 Constitution supersedes all such laws or gazette notices.
“The president has no power or authority to impose open grazing on state governments. Such illegal action, which is a breach of the 1999 constitution, will not be accepted and will be legally resisted at all costs.
“Therefore, any law banning open grazing by state governments is not only legal and binding but is unchallengeable and binding on any person or group of persons, including the President of Nigeria.
“There is no federal system where the federating units are not controlled by the governors, who are the chief security officers of his federating units.
“What we are practising today, is not a federation, rather, what we are practising is a unitary form of government that makes our president the most powerful president of any federal system. And that is why the people want a new constitution.
“Finally, may I, once again, appeal to President Buhari to call for a national dialogue over insecurity and general violence, with Nigerians of various ethnic nationalities.
“The various calls by groups for secession and break-up of the country is not healthy. He needs to have a peaceful government until he leaves office in 2023.”
UYLA, in a statement after an emergency executive committee meeting at Otor- Udu, Udu Local Government Area, by the group’s acting President, Chief Anthony Ofoni, said: “This is to inform the Fulanis of Usman Dan Fodio leadership that after 48 hours, open grazing of cattle by nomadic people will be forbidden in Delta Central senatorial district.
“The safety of herdsmen and their cattle still in the region after the expiration of the notice will no longer be guaranteed because they have sacked some of our communities in Uwheru and killed many Abraka farmers and we view the threat as a big insult on all Deltans.”
Also, NAPS, in an open letter to the President by its Senate President, Dio Rex, said: “Your Excellency, we wish to refer to the above subject matters, the Senate leadership received distress calls from her teeming members, particularly Polytechnic Students in Delta State, concerning a trending and online circulating release issued by Fulanis of Usman Dan Fodio leadership, claiming to unleash terror on unsuspecting Deltans, which the NAPS members represent a good number in the state.
“It is pathetic to note that your administration is beginning to fail Nigerian students, which you swore an oath to protect.
“The Nigerian students’ movement wishes to state unequivocally that you should, as a matter of urgency, address the security threats in our country and particularly Delta State and ensure that those involved in perpetuating this unrest are brought to book.
“It is our duties as an association to advocate and press for the demands of the betterment and general welfare of our students and parents.
“The leadership will not seize to mobilise her teeming members nationwide to resist any action that is tantamount to cause havoc and disrupt our academic calendar.
“In as much as NAPS is a law-abiding association, our silence shouldn’t be taken for weakness.
“On this note, the NAPS wishes to use this medium to call on you to rise to the occasion and address this particular threat by Fulanis of Usman Dan Fodio leadership to avoid security breach and unforeseen unrest on or before June 21, 2021
“Upon the expiration of our ultimatum, if Your Excellency fail to address this threat to lives and bring the culprits to book, the leadership will not hesitate to take a drastic measure, mobilize, use all legal and constitutional actions to press our demands home.”
Meanwhile, Delta State Police Commissioner, Ali, in a statement by the Police Public Relations Officer, Bright Edafe, said: “The attention of the command has been drawn to a recent publication making rounds purportedly published by the Fulanis of Usman Dan Fodio leadership tagged “FULANI JIHADIST WARNINGS” and pasted in various locations around Asaba and Agbor to be precise.
“The command under the watch of Ali is ever committed in its responsibility of providing security for all Deltans. Members of the public should ignore the said publicationm which must have been pasted by miscreants to create panic in the state.
“All modalities have been put in place to forestall any of such occurrences. All residents are advised to go about their lawful businesses without fear or panic. Undercover police operatives have been deployed across the state to gather intelligence.”
Meanwhile, the leadership of Fulani community in Delta State, yesterday, said they were not responsible for the threat letter issued by some Fulani Jihadists to attack Asaba and Agbor.
Addressing newsmen, yesterday, on behalf of the Fulani leaders, Muktar Usman, Musa Mohammed, Haruna Abubakar, Useni Haruna among others said: “This is our home and we cannot create problems for the state because this is where we earn a living. Government should bring those people who did that publication to book.
“We are peace-loving and Delta has been good to us,” said the Sariki Delta, Musa Mohammed.
Muktar Usman on his part, said: “We are not part and parcel of that nonsense, and we condemn it in all ramifications. We are Nigerians and we have a good understanding with our host communities. We are at peace with our host communities.
“We are calling on the state government and security agencies to fish out those behind it. We are more accepted in Delta than in our own states of origin. I want to encourage our people to remain peace-loving and not create unnecessary tension.”