Some of the key ethnic nationalities groups invited to a peace meeting by former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, have turned down the invitation.
The meeting is scheduled to take place on July 29 and 30, 2019.
But leaders of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum, Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and Middle Belt Forum have pulled out of the talks.
In a letter to Abubakar, the leaders of the groups said they would not be attending because of the invitation extended to Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria and Gan Allah Fulani Development Association.
In the letter, signed by Chief E.K. Clark for PANDEF; Chief Ayo Adebanjo for Afenifere; Chief John Nwodo, President General of Obanaeze Ndigbo; and Dr. Pogu Bitrus, President of the Middle Belt Forum, the ethnic nationalities leaders said they do not see themselves discussing with the two groups.
The letter reads in full:
Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar (GCFR)
Former Head of State,
Federal Republic of Nigeria,
Re: Roundtable on National Issues and Security
Greetings to you from the leaders of Southern and Middle Leaders Forum.
We individually received your invitation to the above event holding in Minna between 29-30 July, 2019.
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 observed that the roundtable will have in attendance all the National Security Heads, Chief of Defence Staff and notable Nigerians, underscoring the high level of the consultations.
We however noticed further that in your category of Socio-cultural organisations invited, you listed the following:
4 MIDDLE BELT FORUM
5 AREWA CONSULTATIVE FORUM
6 NORTHERN ELDERS FORUM
We were comfortable up to that point until we saw the following:
1 Gan Allah Fulani Development Association.
2 Miyetti Allah.
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 on our bodies and our coming to a roundtable with the group would mean acquiesce 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.
Even if the above was not the case with Miyetti Allah, bringing a trade group like them in the same vehicle with the nationalities organisations would not have been appropriate as there are organisations of their category for fishermen, farmers, spare parts dealers and poultry owners among others across Nigeria who are not invited.
Towards this end, we decline participation in the roundtable as scheduled without prejudice to your peace-building effort which is appreciated.
We equally regret any inconvenience our decision may cause you as we know the efforts that go into putting events such as this together.
Rest assured of our cooperation in all efforts and dialogues to make Nigeria peaceful, secure and forward moving provided they are organised in a way that does not subtract from our dignity and value.
Once again, we appreciate all your efforts.