THE Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has condemned the decision of the Amalgamated Union of Foodstuff and Cattle Dealers (AUFCDN) to ban all foods supplies to the southern region of the country.
The ACF said such a decision would further polarise and complicate socio-economic and political problems facing the country today.
In a statement on Tuesday in Kaduna, Audu Ogbe, ACF national chairman, called on the union’s leadership to put a halt to the embargo, stressing that Nigeria was not at war with itself.
“The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), shares the concerns of Nigerians over the decision of the Amalgamated Union of Foodstuff and Cattle Dealers to stop movements of needed food from the north to the south,” he said.
“We call on the leadership of the union to put a halt to their so-called embargo and blockade.
“Nigeria is not at war with itself and such drastic action is not necessary.
“It will only further complicate the socio-economic and political problems facing our country today.
“The members of the union are said to have suffered severe losses during the #EndSARS riots and the recent violence in Sasha in Oyo State targeted against northerners.
“We believe that whatever may be the difficulties of their members in operating in other parts of the country, ACF leadership led by me is willing to help them solve these by talking to security agencies and the government.
“There is no need to mount a blockade by one section of the country against the other.
“Whatever may be our differences, the ACF as an ardent believer in free trade believes that goods should be allowed to move freely.
“This extreme measure is not progressive and even counterproductive. This is not the way to go.”
The body commenced an indefinite strike following the government’s failure to address the alleged killings of its members in various parts of the country.
The union is also demanding payment of compensation of 4.75 billion naira to its members, being losses incurred during the #ENDSARS’ protest, including the razing of their properties at Shasha market in Oyo State.
According to The Punch, the union was also stopping its members from moving cattle and foodstuffs to the country’s southern region.
Many trailers transporting cows, tomatoes, onions, pepper, grains and other commodities have been prevented from leaving a border town in Niger State to the southern part of the country.
A recent video of a long line of trailers stopped by the union had circulated on social media recently.
The trucks, conveying agricultural goods owned by Fulani cattle merchants, were reportedly stopped from entering Jebba town, Kwara State border town with Niger State on their way to the South-West last Thursday.
It was gathered that the stoppage might have to do with the threat by the national body of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria to stop its members from supplying and selling cattle to the South if some governors effected the alleged eviction of Fulani herdsmen.
Kabiru Salisu, financial secretary of the AUFCDN, said a task force set up by the union was enforcing the strike in Niger State and other areas.
He said the government had not reached out to the union on its demands, hence the strike, which he said was indefinite.
“There is a task force that we set up to enforce the directive by the union that there would be no transportation of cattle and foodstuffs to the South with effect from Thursday. So, the union set up the task force to prevent sabotage,” he said.
“In the communiqué we issued, we said the strike would start yesterday (Thursday), and so, we have started the strike. Now, there is no loading of commodities to the South, but those who attempted to violate the directive were stopped in Niger State.”
Also, confirming the stoppage of cattle and foodstuffs to the South last Friday, coordinator of Miyetti Allah in Kwara State, Aliyu Mohammed, said the development was factual.
Mohammed also claimed that his members were being killed.
”We are not doing anything wrong and yet our people in the forests are being killed for no just cause,” he said.
The Middle Belt Forum has kicked against the action, describing it as a criminal act.
In a statement signed by Pogu Bitrus, its national president last Friday, the group said the issue was capable of throwing Nigeria into choas.
It called on the Nigerian government to address the issue.