• Arewa leaders cannot speak for us, Middle Belt groups warn
Troops of Operation Safe Haven (OPSH) were yesterday deployed in Kaura, Zangon Kataf, Jema’a and Sanga local councils in southern Kaduna.
The Commander of the 4 Battalion in charge of the area, Lt. Col. Hassan Muhammad Bello disclosed this.
The commander explained that troops of 1 Battalion, which have been maintaining security in the area in the past six years, would now be engaged in assignments outside the country.
The troops were earlier deployed in Plateau and parts of Bauchi and Kaduna states to maintain order.
Bello told the OPSH Commander, Major General Rogers Nicholas, that the security challenges in southern Kaduna were similar to those in Plateau State.
“The crises usually are on issues of farmers and herders, cattle rustling as well as armed banditry,” he said.
Nicholas told community leaders in the area that his men would do everything possible to maintain the peace.
He said: “We are not politicians or religious bigots, but are here to sustain the peace and we must learn to work together, tolerate and respect one another.”
Meanwhile, a coalition of groups from the Middle Belt yesterday dissociated themselves from any political or socio-cultural affinity with the core north.
A statement by the Youth President of Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU), Mr. Nasiru Jagaba read the statement on behalf of the Middle Belt region.
The groups, which condemned the declaration by Arewa youths that the Igbo should vacate the north before October 1, said nobody in the northern part of the country has the mandate to speak for us.
Jagaba said: “We the people of Middle Belt of Nigeria, comprising Kwara, Kogi, Benue, Plateau, Nasarawa, Taraba, Niger, Federal Capital Teritory (FCT), Abuja, as well as the southern parts of Adamawa, Kaduna, Kebbi, Bauchi, Gombe, Yobe and Borno States, wish to lend our united voice behind the Middle-belt Forum (MBF) and other affiliate groups.
“We are against the declaration by the Arewa youths and their sponsors. The people of the Middle-Belt wish to let the world know that we are not part of Northern Nigeria and nobody in that part has the mandate to speak for us.”
He said the Federal Government has created distrust by failing to deal with the Hausa-Fulani herdsmen, who have turned the Middle Belt into a theatre of war.
The groups also condemned the support by some northern leaders to the “misguided” Arewa youths.