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Middle Belt Forum implores FG to prioritize IDPs’ resettlement over census exercise



The National Population Commission has been urged by the Middle Belt Forum to delay setting new dates for the 2023 National Population and Housing Census until the problem of internally displaced people has been resolved.

The MBF claimed that since certain Nigerians who were displaced from their villages are still residing in IDP camps, the NPC has no justification for meeting with President Bola Tinubu to set new dates for the census.

This was stated by the MBF on Tuesday in a statement issued by its president, Dr. Pogu Bitrus.

The group recalled that the census was suspended under the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari in response to IDP complaints that they would be excluded from the process.

“For now, the primary focus of the Federal Government should not be conducting a population and housing census. The priority should be how to ensure that millions of displaced persons across Nigeria, especially in the Middle Belt region, are provided with adequate security to return to where they were forced to flee.

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“Conducting the census now without addressing the IDP issues amounts to a deliberate manoeuvre to palm off a false demography on a nation whose citizens have been driven from their habitations by foreign Fulani invaders,” the MBF said.

The MBF added, “In a situation where foreign criminal Fulani militias have overtaken some Middle Belt communities, the Federal Government must not spare any person or interest in restoring order and providing adequate security for lives and property.

“If the census goes ahead as planned without resolving the present security challenges and returning IDPs to their communities, legitimacy would be conferred on the vicious brigands that have continued to carry out genocidal attacks on defenceless communities.

“No nation, including Nigeria, should conduct a census in troubling times. While not underestimating the relevance of the headcount, the Forum calls on the Federal Government to work towards resolving security challenges in order to avoid conducting another census that may be marred by disputes.”

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