By Daniel Dafe, Abraka
The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF), has expressed disgust over what the group described as an assault on the sensibilities of Non-Fulani Nigeria by food sellers and Cattle Dealers Association, adding that they made “outrageous financial demand as compensation from Government.”
Recall that members of the Amalgamated Union of Foodstuff and Cattle Dealers of Nigeria (AUFCDN) recently embarked on a strike.
Guardian reports that on February 18, this year, the leadership of the union wrote to the Federal Government demanding the protection of its members, payment of N475 billion compensation for the lives and properties of members lost during the #EndSARS protest in October last year and the recent Shasa market crisis in Ibadan, Oyo State. The group also demanded the dismantling of all roadblocks on federal highways, alleging that their members were being harassed and money extorted from them by the security operatives.
The group.after a seven-day ultimatum to the federal government penultimate Thursday following the expiration of the ultimatum embarked on a strike, saying their demands were not met.
This entailed closing all routes between the North and South for vehicles conveying cattle and food items. They created a task force that mounted illegal roadblocks on highways leading to the South to enforce the strike. Not even the prompt warning by the Defence Headquarters that the armed forces would not condone any attempt to disrupt legitimate economic and commercial activities deterred them. They were determined to sustain the action until they drive home their point. By last Wednesday when they eventually called off the strike following the intervention of some stakeholders like the Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello and former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, the union announced that the Federal Government had agreed to pay N4.75 billion compensation to them.
Describing the food strike as a gratuitous insult, SMBLF in a statement signed by Yinka Odumakin (South West), Chief Guy Ikokwu (South East), Senator Bassey Henshaw (South South), Dr. Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt), added that “this is a group whose members have been committing murderous activities and owning up to them without consequences.”
Adding: “When they admitted killing 78 people in Benue in January, 2018, the President invited Governor Ortom to go and seek peaceful way to live with his killer–neighbors.”
Continuing, SMBLF said “it is this kind of pampering that must have encouraged them. We are not unaware that the police that had not lifted a finger over the killing of Olufon of Ifon by herdsmen in broad daylight recently invited leaders of Ifon community to Abuja to come and explain missing cows.”
“The clear absence of justice in Buhari Nigeria is a vital signal that will do the country in if we go on with this waywardness,” the statement said.
The group commended the Middle Belt Forum for “the good sense they showed in condemning the blockage even when the Nigerian rulers lost theirs during the taunt.”
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