The Ondo State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Donald Ojogo has the statement from presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu in response to an order issued by governor of the State, Rotimi Akeredolu, asking herdsmen to leave forest reserves, is brazen display of emotional attachments that is very inimical to the corporate existence of Nigeria.
Shehu had on Tuesday, while reacting to and Akeredolu’s quit order on herders living in forests, as part of efforts to curb the rising spate of banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery and rape, argued that the governor could not order herders out of the state.
According to him, the action could set off a chain of events “which the makers of our constitution foresaw and tried to guard against”.
He called for restraint on both sides and urged 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”.
Shehu said while the presidency would not condone any form of criminality, it is cruel 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”.
“The Presidency has been keenly monitoring events occurring in Ondo State and the “orders” by the government of the state, “asking herders to vacate the forests in seven days,” the statement read.
“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.
“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.
However, in a swift reaction, Ojogo, said the Presidency statement had stated “unambiguously, the position of the Federal Government on the matter, while accusing Shehu of ethnic bias.
Ojogo maintained that the state government did not ask Fulani to leave the state, but only unregistered herders in the forest reserves.
“The Ondo State Government did not ask Fulani to leave the state. The governor said herdsmen who are unregistered should leave our forests,” he said.
“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 commissioner noted.