The Midwest Movement, the pan-Edo/Delta group with members drawn from ethnic nationalities of the old Midwestern Region, on Monday, restated its opposition to the establishment of Ruga settlements in the area.
The group’s rejection of the settlement is contained in a statement signed by its coordinator, Dr Pedro Obaseki.
The group had earlier in June raised the alarm over what it described as “a renewed plot by the Federal Government to forcefully or tacitly annex swaths of lands belonging to various ethnic nationalities in states across Nigeria in a bid to settle Fulani herders in colonies to be known as RUGA settlements.”
In its latest statement issued on Monday, The Midwest Movement, said, “We herein reiterate our earlier stand that The Midwest Movement totally and unequivocally rejects this brazen 21st century colonisation in its entirety!
“The Midwest Movement wishes to state unequivocally as follows that the proposed Ruga settlements, which is to resettle nomadic Fulani herdsmen in states across the federation, is a neo-colonial initiative of the Federal Government;
“That the Federal Government is not taking into consideration the peculiar nature of the places it wants to settle people into; who are not indigenous to those places;
“That though all Nigerians have the right to move or co-habit in any part of the country, the Federal Government cannot legislate that thousands of hectares of indigenous land can be given away to nomadic herdsmen of a particular tribe across the nation to the detriment of the indigenous owners of such land.”
It also described the proposed settlements as a deliberate attempt to alter the demography of the country to the detriment of the indigenous peoples.
He called on the governments of the Midwestern region states of Edo and Delta to reject any proposal to cede land for the settlements.
He said, “We call on the Federal Government to immediately rescind its planned veiled colonisation of our peoples and enjoin 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 land of the 12 ethnic nationalities of the Midwest Region of Nigeria, without recourse to consultations with the traditional and bona fide owners is akin to an invasion.
“We call on Mr President, the governors of 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.