Delegates to a rare conference of South-east, Sout-west, South-south and North-central political leaders have demanded that the Federal Government declare the Miyetti Allah cattle breeders group, and Fulani herdsmen as terrorist groups.
The groups are accused of killing over 70 people in Benue State in the last two weeks. The Benue government held a mass burial for victims on Thursday.
The “Handshake Across the Niger” conference, held in Enugu on Thursday, was attended by former governors Cornelius Adebayo, Ikedi Ohakim, Jonah Jang and Olusegun Mimiko; former Secretary of the Government of the Federation, Olu Falae, son of former President Nnamdi Azikiwe, Uwakwe Azikiwe, Banji Akintoye, a professor, and former minister, Femi Fani-Kayode.
Others are Anya Anya, Pat Utomi, Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe of Onitsha; Ifeanyi Uba, Yinka Odumakin, Ngozi Odumuko, Victoria Aguiyi Ironsi, wife of former military leader, Donald Fajuyi whose father, Adekunle Fajuyi was killed with Aguiyi-Ironsi in the 1966 counter coup, Femi Ajayi, former Akwa Ibom military governor Idongesit Nkanga and Joe Irukwu.
The president-general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Nnia Nwodo, in his address at the conference, said the activities of the herdsmen had a become a threat to the unity of the country.
The delegates also said “a minority” part of Nigeria, namely, the North West and North East, cannot hold the other regions with over 99 million population to ransom by refusing to agree on restructuring.
The delegates warned that if the country is not restructured before the 2019 general elections, it may be heading towards disintegration.
The conference, held at Base Event Centre Enugu, was organised by Nzukor Umunna, an affiliate of Ohaneze Ndigbo.
The representative of the chairman of Afenifere, Ayo Adebanjo, said the meeting was a catalyst for the unity of Nigeria.
He said the meting was not a “gang up” or a forum for the formation of a political party, but a meeting against common oppressors of progressive Nigerians.
“It’s only restructuring that can guarantee your rights in Nigeria. Cheating, injustice and even corruption can only be wiped out through restructuring,” he said.
“President Buhari will not do that, instead he has ensured that all military and paramilitary institutions are under his control and he has refused to to name herdsmen as terrorists yet he pounced on IPOB that seeks for justice.”
A minute silence was observed for the victims of Benue killings.
A communique issued at the end of the conference, said the time has come for the regions that attended the meeting to end the mutual suspicion between them.
They agreed to collaborate closely and to create mutually beneficial opportunities.
They also declared support for a truly federal union of Nigeria that is democratic, stable, secure, peaceful, just and fair to all its citizens.
They resolved to set up a joint committee to ensure constant exchange of ideas between various groups from the regions for the economic and political resuscitation of the country.
The meeting was however boycotted by governors of the South East, South South and South West.