Top lawyers and groups, including Afenifere and the Yoruba Council of Elders, on Wednesday, criticised the Presidency over its stand on the Ondo State Government’s ultimatum to herdsmen in the state’s forest reserves.
Recall that the Northern Elders’ Forum had directed the Fulani herdsmen to disregard the notice to quit forest reserves in the state.
Also on Wednesday, the Ondo State Government said it did not tell herdsmen to leave the state or its forests, but forest reserves, which had become hideouts of kidnappers.
Recall that the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, had on Monday ordered herdsmen to leave the state’s forest reserves within seven days.
The Presidency, in a statement by the President’s Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, faulted the governor, saying he should not act outside his constitutional powers.
Candidreporters.com gathered that in an interview, the Secretary General of the YCE, Dr Kunle Olajide, described as the reaction of the Presidency as unconstitutional.
Olajide said, “Any Nigerian is free to live in any part of the country in as much as he lives in peace with the people without engaging in violence or constituting a threat to the survival and wellbeing of others. But how do you explain a situation where you get to a place and engage in crime and criminality, killing and maiming of innocent people and plundering their farmlands and the likes?
Commending Akeredolu, he stated, “The Presidency has turned a deaf ear to the calls of the people and governors of the South-West for protection from these herders in the last five years.
“The herders in Yoruba land are Fulani. Therefore the issue of ethnicising crime does not arise. The Federal Government ought to do the needful by calling security officers to act and enforce orders issued by the lawful authority in the state.”
The pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere, in a statement titled, ‘Ondo Forests: Fulani Presidency Again,’ issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Yinka Odumakin, said the Muhammadu Buhari regime had again shown its non-pretence as representing the Fulani interests above other tribes in the country.
Afenifere stated, “The intervention by what we mistakenly call the Federal Government of Nigeria on behalf of marauding Fulani in Ondo State against the lawful government in that state did not come to Afenifere as a surprise as it is in line with the non-pretence by this regime that it represents only the Fulani interests against those of Yoruba, Igbo, Junkun, Ijaw and other tribes in Nigeria.