‘Middle Belt Patriots’ Denounces The Press Release from The Northern Consensus Movement, Dissociates Itself

A socio-cultural organisation, Middle Belt Patriots, has condemned, in strong terms, a recent threat by the Northern Consensus Movement threatening to stop the supply of food to the southern parts of the country.

This was made available to the press by the secretary of the organisation, Patrick Anum, on Sunday in Makurdi, the Benue State capital.

Anum warned in his statement that the Middle Belt was not the same as Northern Nigeria.

“Let it be known that the Middle Belt people dissociate themselves from the reckless statements of this group, which, without consultation, has included the Middle Belt territories in its proposed conflict with their host communities in Yorùbá land.

The divergence in opinion between the Northern Consensus Movement and the Middle Belt people has deep historical roots”, he said.

On Thursday, the Northern Consensus Movement vowed to stop the supply of food from the north to the southern part of the country in reaction to statements credited to the Yorùbá Nation agitator, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, for violent Fulanis to vacate Yorùbáland within 10 days.

But the NCM President, Awwal Aliyu, vowed in his press conference that the group would do everything within its reach to stop the move, adding that if the threat persisted, they would force the Yorùbá living in the northern parts of the country to evacuate the region, including the Middle Belt states. Aliyu said: “Just recently, Sunday Igboho was released from prison, but he issued a fresh ultimatum for the Fulani community that is living in Yorùbáland to leave the region within seven days.” This time around, we, the Northern Consensus Movement of Nigeria, will do everything possible to stop that move, and if he resists listening, then we have no option other than to ask the Yorùbá who are living in northern Nigeria to also go back to their region.”

Anum, while scolding the group and its leaders, said that he was disappointed at the lopsided approach they had used in addressing the issue at hand. He said what was expected of everyone at this critical moment was to condemn the activities of the marauding Fulani herders who went about destroying farmlands and killing innocent Nigerians, including in the northern regions that the NCM claimed to represent. ”What we anticipated from the Northern Consensus Movement was a condemnation of the marauding herdsmen and a commitment to assist law enforcement agencies in apprehending criminal elements of Fulani descent responsible for the atrocities in Yorùbá land.”

However, instead of doing so, they adopted a confrontational stance, finding fault with the statements made by Sunday Igboho, who issued a 10-day ultimatum to the rampaging herdsmen. “Their interpretation extended this ultimatum to encompass the Hausa and Fulani communities, contrary to the specific focus on criminal elements, as articulated by Sunday Igboho and reinforced by the Yorùbá Council of Elders”, Anum said. He further stated that it was imperative to clarify that what the Middle Belt people understood was that Chief Sunday Igboho’s ultimatum was targeted exclusively at the rampaging herdsmen responsible for widespread insecurity in the South-West and was by no means a threat directed at all Fulani and Hausa communities residing in Yorùbáland, as some have incorrectly portrayed it to be, adding that any organisation feeling threatened by actions taken against criminal elements anywhere in Nigeria should be investigated as they might have dangerous affiliations.

Patrick also touched on the complexity of Nigeria as a country quipping. “The Middle Belt Patriots hereby condemn the display of naivety to assert a “homogeneous” one-North policy in 2023 when the reality is far from it. There is no one South, and there is no one North.” The monolithic North encompassing Yorùbá people of Kwara and Middle Belt people in the Savannah areas is long gone, and nobody should falsely annex us to any colonial identity.

Nigeria’s geopolitical landscape necessitates diplomatic resolution, not conflict, as the solution to our differences, for no one benefits from war. “The creation of states was aimed at emancipating ethnic minorities, and it is essential that no one instigates conflicts or exploits over 200 ethnic groups in the Middle Belt as a pretext. Instead, we should collectively denounce crime and expose criminal elements within our midst, refraining from shielding them or casting blame on others”, he said.