By OKUNADE ADEKUNLE
The Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF) has accused the Lagos State Task Force of humiliating and harassing northerners in the state, describing it as totally unacceptable.
In a statement issued on Monday by the National President of AYCF, Alhaji Shetimma Yerima, the group accused the task force of going to residential areas at odd hours to harass and arrest these northerners.
While demanding an explanation from the Lagos state government, the group called on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently intervene to forestall any likely consequence of extreme provocation.
Many of the residents affected are said to be owners of motorcycles, most of which are operating on commercial bases, but Yerima argues that Lagos never banned their operation, adding that the laws of the state only restrict them to certain roads.
The statement reads “We find totally unacceptable the use of force to invade the homes of Northerners in the wee hours of the night and “arresting” them for no legal or constitutional reason. We are not aware of any law by Lagos State Government banning Okada, even though we know that restrictions have been imposed on Okada in selected Lagos communities. It is therefore imperative that the either the Lagos State Government or the Task Force explain the legal and Constitutional basis for this action. It was very touching when we saw the Task Force officials raiding homes with majority of Northerners in Oshodi area on the wee hours of the night”
The group added ” We demand immediate explanation for this humiliating operation, let either the Lagos State Government tell the world that it officially sanctioned this gestapo operation or it was the instruction of Task Force boss that we are seeing this physical assault on our people.
“We are deeply disturbed by this rather uncivilized conduct in the 21st century, happening in a supposedly cosmopolitan city like Lagos. We gathered that the people in many Northern States are already tensed up by the news filtering out of Lagos since Thursday through Saturday. And we dare say this kind of tension in the north has very often been a precursor to revenge attacks. Something drastic must be done to avoid a recurrence of past security challenges caused by the humiliation of Northerners in Lagos”, the group said in the statement
The group, however, called on President Buhari to take drastic steps in ensuring the impunity by Lagos State Government or Task Force is halted immediately.
“We call on all security agencies to take immediate steps in averting a situation capable of destabilizing the country. Northerners, like other Nigerians, have every right to movement for trade anywhere in the country as guaranteed by the constitutional provision on freedom of movement”
” Most importantly, we call for the immediate release from prison all the innocent Northerners whose homes were raided in the ungodly hour by Task Force officials. This, in our candid view, will be the first step in ensuring justice for the innocent Northerners. Why haul them into detention, in defiance of well-known constitutional provisions or the Rule of Law in general?”, said the group in the statement
The statement concluded “We wish to reiterate that any further attempt to humiliate innocent Northerners in any part of this country will be resisted by our group with all the available legal and constitutional weapons. In a balanced world, institutions are created for tackling problems but not in the manner Lagos State Government through the Task Force is currently doing to our own people. It is therefore a smear on decorum, disrespectful of human dignity and a brazen abuse of official powers. And this is totally unacceptable”