EDDY OCHIGBO, Kaduna
The Coalition of the Middle Belt Youth Leaders has reacted to comments credited to the President of Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF), Mallam Yerima Shettima, threatening the peace and unity of Nigeria over the ongoing #EndSARS protests.
Shettima was quoted to have threatened that the North would go to war if the #EndSARS protesters demand the resignation of President Muhammadu Buhari.
A press statement signed by Middle Belt Forum’s Youth Leader, Comrade Nasiru Jagaba, revealed that “this is not the first time Shettima is threatening the peace of the nation as he had issued a similar threat in the past as contained in the ‘Kaduna Declaration’ in which he ordered all Igbos residing in the North to leave within three months or face daring consequences.
“We the youth leaders of the Middle Belt wish to categorically note that our region and peoples are no longer part of the perceived north and, in the event of any war against the South, the teeming youths of the Middle Belt shall not participate in any war against our Southern brothers.
“We state here without ambiguity that the current #EndSARS demonstrations are not only restricted to ending SARS brutality, but also committed to making Nigeria work for all citizens across ethnic, religious, socio-economic and geo-political divides.
“We dismiss as a complete hogwash attempts by the AYCF to portray the #EndSARS protests as enmeshed in subterranean schemes to pull down the President Buhari-Federal Government. As Middle Belt youth leaders, we deprecate Shettima’s threat and hereby insist that our nationalistic youths are only actively engaged in these demonstrations to end the cruelty of police and demand a just system for a nation”.
The statement regretted tha it was tragic that the AYCF president has not found it apt to protest the uncontrolled banditry and insurgence ripping across the area Shettima claims to represent.
“We are alarmed that that despite upsetting statistics by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) that show that the dreaded Boko Haram has so far killed over 37,500 people and displaced an estimated 3.5 million people or more, including the killing of 15,000 in Kaduna, Zamfara, Katsina, Benue, Sokoto and Plateau state, the AYCF has remained silent and refused to protest against these unprovoked murders and destruction ravaging most areas of the North.
“It is worrisome that despite having more than 15 million children that are currently out of school, among them 10 million street children who are popularly known as almajirai, there is no doubt that future is bleak for youths in Nigeria.
“As leaders of Middle Belt youths, we wish to reiterate and declare solemnly that our members are currently active participants of #EndSARS protests that are calling attention of both national and international communities to police brutality in Nigeria.
The leadership of Middle Belt youths is perpetually opposed to Shettima’s garbage that seeks to dress #EndSARS protesters in political robes. We call on Shettima and his ilk to desist henceforth from deceiving Nigerians that the so-called North is prepared to go to war over an alleged planned plot to demand the resignation of President Buhari who has continued to perform poorly against popular expectations. All our youths are asking for is an end to police brutality and enthronement of a just system for a better and equitable Nigeria.
“We call on Middle Belt youths to continue walking with other Nigerian youths towards ensuring the emergence of a new dawn for our nation that is still trapped in the muddy waters of injustice”.