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HomePoliticsPresidency, Akeredolu On Collision Course Over Ultimatum To Herders to Vacate Ondo...

Presidency, Akeredolu On Collision Course Over Ultimatum To Herders to Vacate Ondo Forests

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By Babajide Okeowo

  • Presidency Call For Caution
  • Akeredolu Insists

The seven-day ultimatum given by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo state to herders in the state to vacate the forests in the state is set to pit the governor and the Presidency against each other.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement entitled “In tackling crime, Ondo state will not act outside the constitution”, has called for caution asking both the state government and the herders to dialogue with a view to addressing the security challenges facing the state not without adding that Akeredolu couldn’t have asked the herders to leave the state in a jiffy.

“Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, a seasoned lawyer, Senior Advocate of Nigeria and indeed, a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, has fought crime in his state with passion and commitment, greater sensitivity and compassion for the four years he has run its affairs and, in our view, will be the least expected to unilaterally oust thousands of herders who have lived all their lives in the state on account of the infiltration of the forests by criminals.

If this were to be the case, rights groups will be right in expressing worries that the action could set off a chain of events which the makers of our constitution foresaw and tried to guard against”.

What is clearly emerging, is a lack of consistency in messaging which in turn leads to various contradictions regarding the accuracy and the intent behind the message. There is little to be said other than to call for restraint on both sides and urge the state government and the leadership of the Fulani communities to continue their dialogue for a good understanding that will bring to an urgent end, the nightmarish security challenges facing the state.

We want to make it clear that kidnapping, banditry, and rustling are crimes, no matter the motive or who is involved.

But, to define crime from the nameplates, as a number of commentators have erroneously done- which group they belong to, the language they speak, their geographical location, or their faith is atavistic and cruel.

We need to delink terrorism and crimes from ethnicity, geographical origins, and religion—to isolate the criminals who use this interchange of arguments to hinder law enforcement efforts as the only way to deal effectively with them” the statement said.

The statement further added that the government of Ondo, and all the 35 others across the federation must draw clear lines between the criminals and the law-abiding citizens.

“The President, who swore to defend the constitution has spoken against the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in asking citizens of Northern origin to leave; he did not spare the group based in Sokoto, ‘Muslim Solidarity Forum,’ which asked the Bishop of Sokoto to leave and is prepared to do all that the law permits to protect citizens all over the country in their choice of where they wished to reside and are treated as equal citizens.

The government of Ondo and all the 35 others across the federation must draw clear lines between the criminals and the law-abiding citizens who must equally be saved from the infiltrators.

Beyond law and order, the fight against crime is also a fight for human values which are fundamental to our country” the statement added.

In a swift reaction The Ondo State Government, on Wednesday, has insisted that herdsmen must obey the seven-day vacation order issued by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu for them to leave the forest reserves in the state.

The State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Donald Ojogo, stated this while featuring on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme monitored by The Matrix.

The commissioner said the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), did not endorse the statement by the presidency, adding that Shehu must explain why he has taken up the fight of criminal elements who masquerade as herdsmen.

“One thing is certain, President Muhammadu Buhari by his antecedents, by his nationalistic posture and by his patriotism that he is known for, may not have directed that statement. I am almost persuaded to think that Garba Shehu didn’t issue that statement because that would have been a very dangerous one for the unity of this country. I am waiting to confirm and if it is true, then, he may have miscommunicated properly to the people of Nigeria.”

Ojogo said if confirmed that Shehu made the statement, then, “it would mean that certain persons in the presidency, certain officials in the presidency are actually out to create problem for President Muhammadu Buhari. We must appreciate the efforts of this president in his fight against insecurity across this country. Insecurity is becoming a national issue; no part of the country is insulated from crisis” he said.

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