The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, which is the apex association of herdsmen in the country, says it is not aware of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu's order that herdsmen should vacate the forest reserves in Ondo State.
Akeredolu issued a statement on Monday, giving herdsmen seven days to vacate all forest reserves due to the high rate of kidnapping in the state.
He had said, "Today, we have taken major steps at addressing the root cause of kidnapping, in particular, and other nefarious activities detailed and documented in security reports, the press, and debriefings from victims of kidnap cases in Ondo State.
"As the chief law and security officer of the state, it is my constitutional obligation to do everything lawful to protect the lives and property of all residents of the state. In light of the foregoing, the following orders are hereby issued: All forest reserves in the state are to be vacated by herdsmen within the next seven days with effect from today, Monday, January 18, 2021."
Speaking with The PUNCH on Monday evening, however, the Secretary-General, MACBAN, Usman Baba-Ngelzerma, said his members also attended a meeting with Akeredolu but all that was discussed was putting a stop to night grazing and the activities of child herders.
He said if such an order was made, it would only be right for the state government to provide an alternative for the pastoralists.
Baba-Ngelzerma said he was not aware of Akeredolu's order and would wait for an official communication before any action is taken.
Responding to a question, he said, "The governor had a two-hour meeting today and the chairman of MACBAN in Ondo State was there. He told me that the agreement they reached was that we should stop night grazing and stop allowing cows to graze around government properties and cooperate with Amotekun and help fish out bad eggs among them.
"That is what we were told. There was no discussion about vacating. But if they asked them to vacate the forest reserves, have they provided an alternative for them to graze? Where will they graze if they leave the forest reserves?
"As it is now, we are not aware of any order to vacate. My chairman is not aware of that. Even I just read about it in the media. When we have confirmed, we will know what to do."
He further said Nigerians must be aware that not all herdsmen are members of Miyetti Allah.