The Presidency has expressed displeasure with the order from Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu for herders to leave the state’s forest reserves in seven days.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity Garba Shehu in a statement on Tuesday called for restraint and dialogue on the side of the state government and the Fulani communities.
The Presidency said the governor, being a legal practitioner, should not know that he cannot “unilaterally oust thousands of herders who have lived all their lives in the state on account of the infiltration of the forests by criminals”.
“Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, a seasoned lawyer, Senior Advocate of Nigeria and indeed, a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, 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,” the statement reads.
“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.
“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. “…The President, who swore to defend the constitution has spoken against the Indigenous People of Biafra 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.”