Southern and Middle-Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) has called on the Federal Government to publicly declare the invasion of the South and Middle-Belt by teenagers, including Almajiris from far North, in spite of the ban on interstate movements imposed by President Muhammadu Buhari as illegal and direct the security agencies to immediately flush them out and ensure that they do not return.
SMBLF made these demands on Sunday in a joint statement signed by Chief E K Clark for PANDEF, Chief Ayo Adebanjo on behalf of the Pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Chief John Nnia Nwodo (Ohaneze) and Dr Bitrus Pogu (Middle- Belt Forum).
The group, while making the demands, expressed outrage at what it termed complacency on the part of Nigerian security forces at the invasion of their areas by teenagers, who were found hidden in containers and trailers in large numbers.
It said the demands became imperative in order to avoid further descent to an “uncontrollable situation,” saying that this should be done to reassure the citizens that “there is a government here!”
“To avoid further descent to an uncontrollable situation, we call on the Federal Government to publicly declare this invasion illegal, direct our National Security Organizations to flush them out NOW and ensure that they do not return. We need to be reassured there is a government here!,” SMBLF demanded.
The leaders, while wondering the type of country Nigeria was turning into “that the order of a president and laws in the country would be selectively obeyed or ignored totally by some citizens without consequences while others are under koboko to obey,” noted that the development, which they described as ominous was coming after Boko Haram threatened openly three weeks ago, that they were going to take their battle against Nigeria to the South-East and South-South regions.
“Very worrisome in this development is the quietness of the National Security organizations, the National Covid-19 Committee and the Presidency since this story broke out,” SMBLF said, adding that this worrisome development had brought about very strong suspicions amongst the citizens regarding the aim of the deployment of these young men.
According to the leaders, the capacity of the teenagers to escape all border security checks until they reached many states in the South and Middle- Belt and nearly the whole country points to strong collaboration, declaring: “God forbid that the Boko Haram threat is being surreptitiously executed.”
SMBLF vowed that it would not fold its arms and allow a massive influx of youths who had no reason to flout extant laws on interstate movements, no pressing national engagement in the South and Middle-Belt, no verifiable occupation, no tests for Covid-19 and no pre-arranged accommodation, “to come and forcibly occupy our forests and perhaps prosecute the threat of Boko Haram.”
The leaders, while reiterating that the silence of the Federal Government in this situation was ominous, pointed out that the manoeuvres appeared deliberately planned and provocative.
“We will resist any threats to our invasion and the security of our lives and property with every amount of self – help available to us,” they further vowed, even as they recalled the warning last given by former Army Chief of Staff, General Yakubu Danjuma, that Nigerians should be ready for self-help.
They, however, expressed the hope that his predictions had not become inevitable and the country can be saved from sliding into lawlessness and its disastrous consequences.
While warning that a stitch in time saves nine and calling on the people to be vigilant, SMBLF queried: How can we endure sporadic killings in the hands of herdsmen in ‘normal’ times and Almajiri invasion under pandemic?