The Presidency has condemned Governor Rotimi Akeredolu’s seven days ultimatum for herdsmen to vacate Ondo forest reserves. Garba Shehu, President Muhammadu Buhari’s media aide, while reacting to the report in a statement on Tuesday said that the presidency has been keenly monitoring events occurring in Ondo. He encouraged the state government to tackle all forms of criminality but not breach the rights of herders in the state. The statement read in part, Mr. Shehu said ”rather the ultimatum and contradiction that may follow the order, the state government and the leadership of the Fulani communities in Ondo state should dialogue for a good understanding that will bring to an urgent end, the nightmarish security challenges facing the state”. He said Mr. Akeredolu “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.”
The presidency argued that “insecurity is not alien to any group, the language they speak, their geographical location or their faith”.
“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 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,” he said.
Governor Akeredolu had earlier cited how the activities of the herders have long been threatening the security of the state.
The state mandated those who wish to carry on with their cattle-rearing business to register with appropriate authorities within the next seven days or risk evacuation from the state.