The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has raised the alarm over what it described as the deliberate targeting of northerners in many parts of the south, with alleged reported killings, destruction and stealing of their assets and other assaults which have been going on for days.
Its Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, in a statement issued Tuesday, therefore, called on leaders at all levels in the country to work towards lowering tension, improving inter-community relations and isolating elements that seek to plunge the nation into deeper crises.
The Forum said it had resisted the pressure to raise the alarm earlier at the unacceptable acts of hostility at Nigerians living and earning legitimate livelihood peacefully in many communities in the south out of concern that doing so would further worsen a major national crisis.
It said that it was aware that governors, security agencies and communities in many states in the south are aware of the widespread assaults on northerners, adding that many people in the north are understandably concerned by the plight of family members who have lost lives and assets and are living in fear.
The Forum however drew the attention of the country to the existence of millions of Nigerians from the southern part of the country living in peace in northern communities, adding that these are Nigerians who are valued and whose rights are respected in the communities they live.
It stated: “Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has been alarmed by the recent and deliberate targeting of northerners in many parts of the south, with reported killings, destruction and stealing of their assets and other assaults which had been going on for days.
“The Forum calls for immediate stop of attacks and harassment of northerners in many southern communities. We commend efforts by some community leaders to reduce the vulnerability of northerners in many southern communities, and we urge governors in particular to take urgent steps to improve protection of northerners and give them assurances of their safety.
“Unrestrained, criminal and ill-advised attacks on northerners in the south is capable of putting our fellow citizens in the south in danger. This must be prevented at all cost by responsible leaders of communities.”
It advised northerners living in southern states to stay put and continue to pursue their livelihood.
It also called on them to compile a verifiable inventory of lives and property lost and approach relevant authorities for appropriate restitution.