Leaders of Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and those of the Niger Delta were denied landing permit to attend the Middle Belt Rally held in Makurdi on Monday.
The groups were delayed in Abuja for over five hours in a bid to frustrate them before finally being informed that the plane to bring them to Makurdi had not been granted landing permit.
This is even as the Middle Belt Elders Forum described the recent killings in the country as the worst form of corruption.
Leaders of the three major socio-cultural groups, which recently teamed up with the Middle Belt to form the South-South/Middle Belt Forum, told competent sources that their delay at the Abuja airport was to ensure that they did not attend the rally.
In his address at the occasion, the Chairman of the Middle-Belt Elders Forum, Air Commodore Dan Suleiman (rtd), confirmed the incident.
He explained that the leaders of the groups were kept at the airport for over five hours without a genuine reason as to why they were held there.
Dan Suleiman stated that despite the challenges confronting the region and the hurdles placed before the Middle-Belt, it would remain united and march forward to greatness.
He stressed the need for Nigeria to restructure which would give way to a fair sharing of resources, and insisted that justice must be delivered to the people of the region.
Darius Ishaku, Taraba State governor, who spoke at the rally, appreciated the National Assembly for initiating a bill to establish state and local government police.
He sued for accelerated attention and passage of the bill, adding that if passed and subsequently signed into law it would go a long way to addressing incessant killings in the country, particularly in the Middle-Belt region.
The governor said: “Killing people is another form of corruption and the worst of it all.
“When one steals one million naira, he is prosecuted but when some people kill innocent people in their sleep they are allowed to walk freely.
“This must stop. Nigeria is a great country but it is wasting away. Every state in Nigeria is a potential country of its own.”
Samuel Ortom, his Benue State counterpart, reiterated the call for the arrest of members of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore who, he alleged, were responsible for the January 1 killings in the state, among others.
General T. Y. Dajuma, represented by Air Commodore Dan Suleiman, said he and others of like minds could not stand and watch Nigeria sink into oblivion.
According to him, he was duty bound to speak for the voiceless in the society just as he stated that he fought hard to keep the country one.
The National President, Middle Belt Forum, Dr. Bitrus Pogu, commended Governors Samuel Ortom and Darius Ishaku for enacting the Anti-Open Grazing Law.
He lamented that while the people of the Middle Belt region had contributed immensely to keep the country one, they were being treated as second-class citizens and also relegated to the background.
He argued that without the Middle Belt the country wouldn’t have survived as a nation.