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The Presidency has said that Miyetti Allah is is legal stake holder in the affairs of the nation and as such should be accorded the respect it deserves.

This statement is in reaction to a controversy that followed a presidential spokesperson’s comment in which he likened the group, Miyetti Allah, to Afenifere and Ohaneze Ndigbo.

Spokesman to President Muhammadu Buhari, Garba Shehu, had said that the herders’ group should not be criminalised and should be seen and addressed by Nigerians with the respect accorded other socio-cultural groups.

Garba Shehu made the assertion on Thursday when he featured as a guest on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily.

Reacting to the spokesman’s statements, the other socio-cultural groups in separate statements condemned the comments and criticised the Buhari-led administration’s decision to dialogue with Miyetti Allah, which have been linked to several cases of violence across Nigeria.

However, in his response on Friday, Garba Shehu said “Miyetti Allah, like any other trade, community, ethnic organization or interest group is a legal stake holder in our nation and should be respected. We maintain that the government needs to engage all stakeholders and seek partnership in building our country.

“The activities of Miyetti Allah do not benefit selected ethnicities or Muslims only, but everyone. Long before petroleum became the core of Nigerian economy, agriculture was the main source of Nigerian wealth. Cattle, hides and skin were a major part of Nigerian export.

“It is right to state that there are criminals among every group in Nigeria and in every country. There are criminals among the northern population as there are in the southern part of the country. It is not good to generalise blames. The government will engage each stakeholder and create dialogue between, and among, different groups.”

The President’s spokesman debunked claims that the government gave N100 billion to Miyetti Allah for dubious reasons, describing it as absolute falsehood.

“The issue of money was never raised at any of the meetings between the representatives of government and Miyetti Allah. If they had raised it, this government would have dismissed them as yet another dubious group, like the many making claims to be representing our trusting people but serving their own interests.

“We choose again to speak on this because it is dangerous for the public to ignore rumours aimed at inciting people against each other or against the government. The people spreading such rumours should be helped to see the truth and participate in nation building, and not become crisis messengers,” Garba Shehu Said.

He surmised that the President has stated time and again, that transparency and dialogue are essential for public enlightenment and nation building.

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