EMMANUEL Yawe, national publicity secretary of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Saturday, warned of imminent civil war, except an urgent action is taken to address the conflict between the Fulani communities and natives of South-West states.
He urged the governors, federal government and other policymakers to, “stop the drift in the southwest,” and be more proactive in their interventions.
Speaking through a statement on behalf of the leading northern socio-political group, Yawe emphasised the need to swiftly address the ethnic crisis.
The warning is sequel to a reported attack on a Fulani community at Ibarapa North Local Government Area (LGA), Oyo State. The crisis reportedly led to the setting ablaze of houses belonging to Saliu Abdulkadir, Seriki of Fulani in the state.
Beyond the destroyed homes, cars were also set on fire while most of the Fulanis had to take cover in the nearby forest.
Two persons were reportedly killed in the incident allegedly incited by a notable Yoruba activist known as Sunday Igboho.
Igboho had earlier, in a viral video, issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Fulani communities to vacate the state due to persistent insecurity attributed to the northern group.
In a video interview granted to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Yoruba Service, Ighoho claimed the Fulani ethnic group was responsible for the murder of the son of the land, who recently returned to the country to invest in agriculture.
He also blamed the persistent killings, abductions and other forms of insecurity in the state to government’s negligence.
However, the ACF said the 1967 civil war, which extended to 1970, was caused by similar attacks and counter-attacks currently occurring in the south-west region.
“There are allegations that one Sunday Igboho, an agitator for the Oodua Republic and who issued an ultimatum giving Fulani people seven days to leave Yorubaland, is the instigator of the attack.
“The most disturbing aspect of the attack is the allegation that the security agents, who were earlier warned about its imminence, stood by helplessly as the attack was carried out.
“The ACF is worried about this trend and calls on the federal and state governments in the South-West to move quickly to avert a social upheaval that may destabilise the whole country,” the statement read in part.
Though Mohammed Adamu, inspector-general of police (IGP), has issued a directive for the arrest of Ighoho, the ACF emphasised the need for the government to be more proactive and arrest perpetrators of the Friday attack.
“We recall that the Civil War in the 60s started with attacks and counterattacks like this. The governments must be proactive and stop history from repeating itself.
“If this is not done, there may be counterattacks in the north and the country will be up in flames. The authorities must act. The ACF is very worried and calls on them to act fast,” the statement added.
You can’t threaten us with war- Afenifere Group
In a swift reaction, Afenifere, a pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, replied the ACF, saying the northern group should not threaten the South-West with war.
The Yoruba group said though it had strived to maintain peaceful coexistence with the northerners, the Fulani group was used to provoke and harass South-West people.
In a statement, Yinka Odumakin, spokesperson of the Afenifere group, described ACF’s comments on the crisis as very arrogant and insulting.
He told the ACF to call ‘their criminals to order,’ as the Yorubas would not wait to be killed.
However, Odumakin emphasised that Afenifere would not want a repeat of the 1966 civil crisis.
“We must make it clear to them that they cannot threaten us with war at this stage as we will not provoke war but never are we going to run for anybody on our land.
“We are miffed that a body like ACF that has never shown any response over the killings of our people can open their mouths anyhow now because there are consequences for the irresponsible actions of their people.
“We advise them to call their criminals to order and not expect our people to sheepishly wait to be killed by those who value cow lives more than human beings.,” the statement read.
“We do not want a repeat of 1966 event, but if there are people plotting such event again, the rain will be over their heads,” the statement added.
Recall that the spate of insecurity across the country has been a major concern to Nigerians from diverse backgrounds.
In the South-West, the herders have been accused of criminal activities, mainly kidnapping. Insecurity occurrences in the region partly led to the formation of the Amotekun Security Network adopted by governors from the South-West states.