The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum has described as reckless and vexatious, the statement credited to the Special Adviser to the President on Media, Femi Adesina, in which he said that all communities opposed to ranches should choose between their lands and their lives.
The forum said it believed the statement was “a death sentence on those who are opposed to the imperialist agenda of the Federal Government to grab land from communities in Nigeria and hand over to herdsmen for their private business.”
Adesina was quoted as saying, “Ancestral attachment? You can only have ancestral attachment when you are alive. If you are talking about ancestral attachment, if you are dead, how does the attachment matter?”
The SMBLF in a statement on Wednesday stated that Adesina’s utterance indicated that President Muhammadu Buhari owed greater allegiance to the herdsmen than to the country.
The statement was signed by Yinka Odumakin for South-West region; Senator Bassey Henshaw (South-South); Prof. Chigozie Ogbu (South-East) and Dr Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt).
The forum stated that the presidential spokesman was deep in the Presidency enough to know why the government had treated killer Fulani herdsmen with kid gloves, noting that “the arrogance with which Adesina spoke showed they now assume their foot soldiers have terrorised us into submission.”
The forum said, “This death threat is coming after the President told the governor of Benue in January to learn how to live with murderers, the IGP saying killers are Nigerians, the defence minister claiming that blockage of cattle routes is the reason why herdsmen are killing and the same Adesina telling us the killings done under Buhari in three years have not equalled the number of deaths that occurred under the Peoples Democratic Party.”
The statement read in part, “If Adesina keeps his job in the next 24 hours, all doubts would be removed about the statement Gen. T.Y. Danjuma (retd.) made that there was a working relationship between the killers and the security forces,” stressing that there would be no need to look for the killer herdsmen.
It noted that the option left for Nigerians is to proceed to the International Criminal Court with the charge that “what we are facing is state sponsored terrorism.”