THE Northern Elders Forum (NEF), yesterday, said that the North would reject presidential candidates who refuse to speak against killings of Northerners in the Southern part of the country.
In a statement by the Director of the Publicity and Advocacy of the forum, Dr Hakeem Baba Ahmed, the group condemned the recent killings of Northerners in the South, especially in Imo State.
Baba-Ahmed described the Imo killings as one incident among many, citing recent incidents that involve harassments, illegal arrests, attacks and killings of Northerner, which he described as unacceptable and intolerable.
“We are deeply concerned over rising cases of profiling, targeting and killings of Northerners in many parts of the South. The recent murder of Nigerians in Imo State apparently on suspicion that they were northerners is one incident among many recent ones that involve harassments, illegal arrests, attacks and killings of Nigerians from the North.”
NEF lamented that those who enjoy these killings drew inspiration from the silence of leaders as well as security agencies.
“The impression that northerners are fair game for groups and organisations in the South is forcing northerners to exercise their rights to travel and live peacefully in any part of Nigeria only under great danger and fear. This is intolerable and unacceptable.
“The Forum demands that governments, communities and law enforcement agencies protect northerners living in the South. It demands clear and emphatic condemnation from leaders, elders and communities who understand that the welfare and security of all citizens are vulnerable to the degree that other citizens are unsafe in certain parts of the country.”
Baba-Ahmed said: “We serve notice that the North will use the degree to which contestants for political office speak in clear terms in condemnation of these attacks on northerners as a yardstick for our support of candidates and parties.
“While we appeal to all communities to live in peace with each other, we also demand that killers who target northerners are fished out and punished.”