Pan Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere and its Ndigbo counterpart, Ohanaeze, have berated Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, for likening Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria to their groups.
Shehu had said Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria should not be criminalised because the Fulani group was in the same league with Afenifere and Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
But the two socio-political organisations said it was wrong to compare them with Miyetti Allah.
While Ohanaeze said it was in the same pedestal with the Arewa Consultative Forum, Afenifere on other hand described the comparison as unfortunate and unfair.
We’re on same pedestal with ACF, not Miyetti Allah– Ohanaeze
Ohanaeze Ndigbo said there was no justification for comparing the Pan-Igbo organisation with Miyetti Allah.
The organisation’s spokesman, Mr Uche Achi-Okpaga, said this in an interview with one of our correspondents.
Achi-Okpaga said it was bad for the presidential spokesman to compare a regional organisation committed to the unity of its people with “a group of criminals.”
He said Ohanaeze Ndigbo could only be compared with Arewa Consultative Forum in the North, Afenifere in the South-West and other regional organisations.
He said, “There is no justification for such comparison. It is a bad comparison. If he is comparing Miyetti Allah with Ohanaeze, then what is Arewa Consultative Forum compared to?
“Ohanaeze is a regional body that is promoting the unity of the Igbo; so also is Afenifere to the Yoruba and ACF to northerners. We also have Middle Belt Forum in the North-Central and PANDEF for South-South.
“You can never put Ohanaeze and Miyetti Allah on the same pedestal. Even at that, Miyetti Allah members are herdsmen who are tormenting Nigerians and you are hobnobbing with them, what are you telling Nigerians?
“These people are invading villages, killing people, and you are telling us that they are on the same page with Ohanaeze. There is no justification for that.
“This is an organisation that the Global Terrorist Index has described as the world’s fourth deadly terrorist organisation.
“Where is the money the government has agreed to give them coming from? From which sub-head will it come? Does the President have the power to just give out money to any organisation that comes to negotiate with him?
“These people are negotiating with criminals. We are in a state of lawlessness.”
Comparison unfortunate, unfair, says Afenifere
In its reaction, Afenifere berated Shehu for the categorisation which it described as unfortunate and unfair.
The group’s spokesman, Mr Yinka Odumakin, said Afenifere could not be likened to Miyetti Allah which he said was responsible for killings and bloodshed across the country.
He argued that Federal Government’s decision to meet with Miyetti Allah leadership over the rising violence and criminality across the country highlighted the type of people that made up the group.
Odumakin said, “We are surprised that the spokesperson (Shehu) was talking like someone under the influence of drugs. In Afenifere, we don’t kill, we don’t abduct people. How can you compare us to a group of people who have been killing in Enugu, Benue, Ogun and other states?
“Why did the government meet Miyetti Allah as part of plans to stop banditry and kidnapping in the country? Why didn’t they meet Afenifere? We reject that categorisation. For anyone to compare us to a group of Fulani herdsmen which had been described by the global terror index as the fourth deadliest terrorist group in the world is most unfair and very unfortunate.”