The apex socio-cultural organization of Northern Nigeria, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), has condemned in strong terms any attempts to categorize Northern Nigerians as members of Boko Haram, citing the danger of arresting people on account of appearance, faith or origin.
The group expressed its position through Muhammad Ibrahim, its National Publicity Secretary, in an email sent to our New York office over the arrest of over 400 Northerners in Abia State by security operatives in collaboration with the state government.
He said the ACF viewed with serious concern the arrest of the 486 Northerners in pursuit of their legitimate means of livelihood in Abia State on the allegation that they are members of Boko Haram simply on account of their faith, origin and appearance.
He pointed out that upon arrest, the men were alleged to have been subjected to ill treatment and hardship in the hands of security agencies, which negates the spirit of one Nigeria and violates their freedom of movement and association as guaranteed in the Nigerian Constitution.
“ACF is not against operations designed to checkmate the activities of Boko Haram insurgents, it however condemns in strong terms, arrest on account of appearance, faith and origin,” the statement said. “This is because such an action will make innocent and law abiding citizens of a particular origin or faith to suffer unduly in the hands of security operatives.”
It called on the relevant authorities and in particular the Abia State Government to exercise caution on the alleged arrest of Jigawa indigenes lest such an action make some people of a particular faith and origin become foreigners in their fatherland.
“Nigerians deserves adequate protection of their lives and property wherever they are from,” ACF said. “Therefore, Governments should ensure peaceful coexistence among Nigerians in any part of the country irrespective of their faith and origin.”