A pan-Edo/Delta group, the Midwest Movement on Wednesday rejected the establishment of RUGA settlements for herdsmen in its region.
The group said the plan, proposed by the Federal Government, should be implemented in areas and lands that are native to such groups.
It warned that if the government went ahead with the project in the region without consulting the “traditional and bonafide owners,” it would be considered an invasion.
It stated this in a statement issued under the authority of the convener of the Midwest Movement, Dr. Don Pedro Obaseki.
The Federal Government on Tuesday said in the next five years, the establishment of Ruga settlements in the country would stop open grazing by herdsmen and end herdsmen-farmers’ clashes across the country.
It explained that the establishment of Ruga settlements, which had been approved by President Muhammadu Buhari and had started in 12 states, would allow herdsmen to stay in specific areas, where they could graze their animals.
But not everyone welcomed the project.
Read also: Benue tackles Fed Govt over Ruga settlement for herdsmen
In its statement, the Midwest Movement alleged that the government was planning to “forcefully or tacitly annex swathes of lands belonging to various ethnic nationalities in States across Nigeria,” in a bid to settle herders.
The group said: “The Midwest Movement totally and unequivocally rejects this brazen “21st century colonisation” in its entirety!
“We call on the Federal Government to immediately rescind its planned veiled colonisation of our peoples, while enjoining the governments of our home-states of Edo and Delta to reject same in clear and unequivocal terms.
“While not opposing the desire of the Federal Government to settle nomadic herdsmen (and any other such groups whatsoever), these should be done in areas and land that are native to such groups.
“The planned aggregation in whatever guise, of the lands of the 12 ethnic nationalities of the Midwest Region of Nigeria, without recourse to consultations with the traditional and bonafide owners, is akin to an invasion.”
It described natives of the region as “peace-loving, and firm believers in a One Nigeria where peace, justice and equity reigns.”
The group added: “The Midwest/Bendel peoples of Delta and Edo States firmly advice the Federal Government against the perpetuation of any policy that may impact negatively on the seeming already strained unity of the Nigerian federation.
“We call on Mr. President, the Governors of both Edo and Delta States, our national legislators, our leaders, the international community and all persons of goodwill to help keep Nigerians and its indigenous peoples safe.”
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