The Middle Belt Forum (MBF) has called on the federal government to return all displaced persons in the region to their ancestral lands and establish a development commission for the rehabilitation of the victims.
A communique issued at the end of a two-day Middle Belt Forum National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting held on Thursday and Friday in Akwanga, Nasarawa State, and signed by its national president, Bitrus Pogu, said the federal government must return the people displaced to their ancestral lands.
The forum called on the federal government to take urgent steps to return displaced communities to their ancestral lands, given the fact that territory can no longer be acquired in the 21st century by the use of force. It also urged the government to identify all IDPs in the Middle Belt region and provide relief materials for them.
The group called on the government to set up an agency to be called the Middle Belt Development Commission (MBDC) to serve as an intervention agency in addressing the challenges caused by the activities of these terrorists
It said against the backdrop of ethnic cleansing being waged by Fulani terrorists in their communities, including the supplanting of their people, the group has resolved that people of the Middle Belt Region should rise up and defend themselves in the face of governments abandoning their constitutional responsibility of defending them or seeming complicity.
“Furthermore, NEC resolves that an attack on any of our communities is henceforth, considered as an attack on all communities in the Middle Belt Region with the attendant responses and consequences.
“After considering the scorecard of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the MBF led by Dr Pogu Bitrus, NEC overwhelmingly passed a vote of confidence on the leadership of the Forum,” the communique said.
The forum said many schools and places of worship in the region have remained closed due to the criminal activities of kidnappers and bandits and appealed to the government to take urgent steps to rescue those in captivity.
“The MBF insists that the federal government must come clean and yield to the demand by the Nigerian public to unveil the identities of the sponsors of Boko Haram, especially the 400 Bureau de change operators as identified by the United Arab Emirate (UAE) authorities.
“NEC finds worrisome, given the report by the United Nations (UN) that the federal government is secretly engaged in negotiations tagged ‘Sulhu’ with Boko Haram terrorists through which the federal government is allegedly offering monetary rewards to insurgents and other criminals.
“Consequently, NEC is totally opposed to this project and also opposed to any form of amnesty to insurgents and other terror groups who have their hands dripping with blood. NEC is also vehemently opposed to any planned recruitment of these so-called repentant terrorists into the national security architecture,” the communique said.
On the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, MBF called on both the National Assembly and the presidency to reconsider their position on electronic transmission of election results and yield to the wishes of the Nigerian people who are demanding 100 per cent implementation of electronic transmission of electoral results in order to ensure credibility and transparency in the electoral process.