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President Tinubu Urged to Suspend Census Amidst Insecurity Concerns, Middle Belt Forum Warns

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President Tinubu Urged to Suspend Census Amidst Insecurity Concerns, Middle Belt Forum Warns

The Middle Belt Forum (MBF) has issued an appeal to President Bola Tinubu, urging him to indefinitely suspend the proposed census by the National Population Commission (NPC). The MBF expressed concerns over the current state of insecurity in the country, particularly in the Middle Belt region. Dr. Pogu Bitrus, the National President of MBF, highlighted the need for guaranteed security and the inclusion of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the census. The forum emphasized that conducting a population and housing census while citizens are displaced and territories are occupied by terrorists would be exclusionary and undermine the accuracy of the exercise.

Dr. Bitrus referred to the suspension of the census during the tenure of former President Muhammadu Buhari due to protests by IDPs, and he called for similar considerations to be made in the present circumstances. The statement pointed out the prevalence of terror attacks and the displacement of millions of citizens by criminals in various parts of the Middle Belt. The MBF highlighted specific instances of violence in states such as Plateau, Niger, Benue, and Kaduna, where communities have been decimated and indigenous people forced out of their ancestral lands.

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The forum criticized the renaming of communities by foreign occupiers and expressed concerns over the cleansing of indigenous populations to allow the takeover of their lands. Dr. Bitrus emphasized that the focus should be on ensuring the security and return of displaced persons before conducting a census. The statement called on the Federal Government to prioritize addressing the security challenges and facilitating the return of IDPs to their communities. It cautioned against conducting a census in troubled times, asserting that doing so would confer legitimacy on criminal elements responsible for genocidal attacks.

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While acknowledging the importance of a population and housing census, the MBF stressed the need to resolve security challenges before embarking on the exercise. The forum asserted that displaced communities should not feel abandoned and vulnerable to invaders and criminals. It also urged the NPC to reconsider its call for President Tinubu to fix new dates for the census, given the ongoing security crisis in the nation. The MBF highlighted the necessity of returning IDPs to their ancestral lands and restoring order before conducting a transparent and dispute-free census.

In light of these concerns, the Middle Belt Forum calls on President Tinubu to prioritize security and the welfare of displaced persons, emphasizing that conducting the census under prevailing circumstances could undermine its accuracy and legitimacy.

Source: THISDAY

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