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Why We Decline Invitation to Parley on National Issue, Security –SMLF


 Leaders of Southern and Middle Leaders Forum (SMLF), have explained why they will not attend a Roundtable on National Issues and Security convened by the former Head of State, General Abdusalami Abubakar between Monday, July 29 and Teusday, 30 in Minna, Niger state.

 The rejection of the invitation was contained in a released jointly signed by Chief Ayo Adebanjo (Afenifere), Chief E.K Clark (PANDEF), Chief John Nwodo (OHANAEZE), Dr Pogu Bitrus (MIDDLE BELT).

The leaders, according to the statement, were already in the thick of preparations for the journey before fuller details of the roundtable came to their attention, saying, some aspects of which had necessitated this last minute communication of their rejection to General Abdusalami.

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 The statement reads:

 “We observed that the roundtable will have in attendance all the National Security Heads, Chief of Defense Staff and notable Nigerians; underscoring the high level of the dialogue.

 “We however noticed further that in your category of Socio-cultural organisations invited, you listed the following:


“We were comfortable up to that point until we saw the following, Gan Allah Fulani Development Association and 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. 

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“We consider  the  above a grave insult on 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.

 “Even if the above were not the case with Miyetti Allah, it would have been inappropriate to put nationality organisations in the same vehicle with this trade group as there are organisations for fishermen, farmers, poultry owners and spare parts dealers across the country like such who are not invited 

“Towards this end, we decline participation in the roundtable as scheduled without prejudice to your peace-building activities.”

 The Forum therefore regretted “any inconvenience our decision may have caused you as we know the efforts that go into planning an event like this,” assuring the General of their 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.