The Northern Governors Forum has called for moderation amidst the increasing tension over herdsmen in the southern region.
The forum stated that targeting the Fulani over the atrocities of some herders forecasts danger for the country.
There have multiple calls for the eviction of herdsmen in the south-west, south-south and south-east.
Some of the herders have been alleged of kidnapping, banditry and disruption of farms.
In a statement made available on Thursday by Simon Lalong, chairman of the forum and governor of Plateau state, the forum clamoured for tranquility in the southern region.
The group said Nigerians, the herders inclusive, possess the right to live in any part of the country without any form of discrimination.
It exemplified the intervention of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) led by Kayode Fayemi, governor of Ekiti, in Ondo state.
Furthermore, the forum said while such an effort is laudable, the latest attacks on herders herald the introduction of ethnic sentiments which may ignite tension.
“While such intervention was celebrated as a success to be sustained through further engagement between herdsmen and representatives of affected communities, emerging reports of attacks on herders and the gradual introduction of ethnic sentiments in the conflict is disturbing and should immediately be nipped in the bud before it gets out of hand,” it said.
“The Northern Governors Forum concedes to the rights of Nigerians to reside wherever they so desire without any molestation or discrimination.
“The criminal elements should not be used to tar any particular ethnic group for any crime as that will portend danger to peaceful coexistence and national unity.
“Rather, such criminal elements should be exposed, isolated and made to face the law of the land without prejudice to their ethnic backgrounds as the motives or criminal actions cannot be said to be the position of their ethnic group.
“In the face of the recent worrisome developments, therefore, the Northern Governors Forum calls for calm and cautions Nigerians particularly those in the affected areas who might have been aggrieved or targeted to exercise restraint.”
The forum admonished political, religious, and community leaders to refrain from inciting violence through their utterances.
It tasked security operatives to rise to their responsibility of protecting lives without partiality.
The northern governors also called on influencers and community leaders to “rise and speak with one voice by not only condemning crime no matter who is involved but also sending the right signals to those who want to take the laws into their hands and trample on the Nigerian Constitution by attempting to deny others the rights to live and pursue their legitimate business in whatever place they choose to reside”.
“Security agencies must also be firm and rise to the occasion by protecting all law-abiding citizens against the threat to their lives and properties irrespective of their ethnic or other affiliations,” it said.
“They should also send a clear and unambiguous message to those threatening the peace that they will act decisively to stop them from plunging the nation to anarchy.
“The Northern Governors Forum further assures Nigerians of all ethnic, religious and political persuasions of their constitutional rights to pursue their legitimate businesses wherever they choose within the region and appeal to the people to resist any attempt to lure them into any activity that can threaten the peace and tranquillity of the region and the nation at large.”