For sending invitation to it and also extending same invitation to Miyetti Allah, the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLlF) has told a former military head of state, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd.), that its members would not attend his meeting.
Abubakar had invited the group to a security roundtable fixed for July 29 and 30 in Minna, Niger State.
He had also extended the invitation to heads of security forces and other notable Nigerians, Gan Allah Fulani Development Association, and Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN).
But SMBLF, a group made up of pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere; Ohanaeze Ndigbo; Pan-Niger Delta Forum; and the Middle Belt Forum, accused Abubakar of insulting them by asking them to be part of a meeting Miyetti Allah will be part of.
They likened the development as similar to the categorisation of the socio-cultural platforms with Miyetti Allah by Presidential Muhammadu Buhari’s Spokesman, Garba Shehu some time ago.
SMBLLF made their feelings known in a statement co-signed by Chief Edwin Clark (PANDEF); Chief Ayo Adebanjo (Afenifere); Chief Nnia Nwodo (Ohanaeze); and Dr Bitrus Pogu (MBF) in Abuja on Sunday.
“We thank you for your interest in the affairs of our country which made us to accept your invitation in good faith.
“It was in the thick of our preparations for the journey that fuller details of the roundtable came to our attention, some aspect of which has necessitated this last minute communication with you.
“We were comfortable up to that point until we saw the following: Gan Allah Fulani Development Association; Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria.
“While we do not know the members of the first group, the lumping of Miyetti Allah, a trade association for cattle herders and whose members have been accused of various violations of rights, including life, across the country sends worrying signal to us.
“It falls into the categorisation of our respected socio-cultural platforms with Miyetti Allah by Presidential Spokesman, Garba Shehu.
“We consider the above a grave insult to our bodies and our coming to a roundtable with the group would mean acquiescence to the narrative that put us in the same bracket with those wielding illegal AK-47 all over the country and inflicting terror on fellow citizens,” the statement read.