Presidency’s Reaction To Ondo Ban on Herders from Forest Reserves Dangerous, Says Commissioner


Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State

The Ondo State Government has described as dangerous presidency’s statement in its reaction to the quit order given by the state government to Herdsmen to vacate its forest reserves following the rising incidence of kidnapping, robbery and insecurity in the southwest state.

The Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, to President Muhammadu Buhari, Garba Shehu had in a statement on Tuesday condemned the quit notice by the Ondo State government, saying that the ban was unconstitutional and called for restrain on the side of the government and the Fulani community in the state.

Part of Garba;s statement read; “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 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.”

In a  statement on Wednesday, the Commissioner for Information and Orientation in Ondo state, Donald Ojogo Nigeria’s allege that Nigeria’s unity was under threat because President Buhari’ led administration is emotionally attached to Fulani herdsmen hence it mistook the ban on herders from the state’s forest to mean ban of Fulani’s from the state.

 According to Ojogo, in a statement,  “The Ondo State Government did not ask Fulani to leave the state. The governor said herdsmen who are unregistered should leave our forests.

“The statement from Garba Shehu is brazen display of emotional attachments and it’s very inimical to the corporate existence of Nigeria.

“We need clearly defined actions on the part of the Federal Government to decimate the erroneous impression that the inspiration of these criminal elements masquerading as herdsmen is that of power. Our unity is threatened, no doubt.

“It (statement) states in a breath that the governor fights crime with passion while it is prevaricating on the atrocities.

“The question is, are the herdsmen who are perpetrating murder, kidnapping and robbery more important than government and even the Federal Government in this case?

“Ethnic nationality and activism on the part of anyone hiding under the Presidency or federal government is an ill wind”, the statement read.