Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
The Northern Elders Forum on Tuesday asked Northerners living in Rivers State, and other parts of southern Nigeria not to be intimidated to run away, but to see wherever they found themselves in the country as their homes.
Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Northern Elders Forum who gave this advice during a one day town hall meeting of his group with a Coalition of Leaders of Northern Groups in the South-South held at Civic Centre in Port Harcourt.
Baba-Ahmed said, “Our people have right to live in the South-South without molestation and intimidation. They have right to live in peace and do business wherever they find themselves because it has been guaranteed in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
He said the Northern Elders have come to the South-South to commiserate with families of Northerners who lost their dear ones and property during the violent #ENDSARS protests in various states.
He asked Southern state Governors and the federal government to ensure that Northerners are protected in South-South just as Southerners are protected in the Northern part of Nigeria as a way of ensuring peaceful coexistence in Country.
The Director of Publicity and Advocacy also warned northerners living in the Southern parts of the country to be law abiding and live in peace with their hosts so that they will not give room attack.
“Don’t provoke anybody, don’t get yourselves involved in illegalities. Don’t play into the hands of those who are looking for excuses to ask you to go home. This is your home. You are not going anywhere. This is what we’re telling our people anywhere we going in Nigeria. We came here to assure you are not alone. We are with you”.
On the material loses, he said it is hoped that “Someone, somewhere will find the need to compensate for your loses.”
On his part, Prof. Doknan Descent Sheni, former Vice Chancellor of Plateau State University said Northern Elders reject the intimidation of their people. But advised Northerners to also treat Southerners who live and do business in their States fairly and without discrimination based on place of birth and religion.
Our correspondent reports that prominent groups of Northerners from the states South-South region made up Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross-River Delta, Edo and Rivers States were attendance. The meeting was conducted in Hausa language.