A former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, has berated the Presidency for its reaction to the seven-day ultimatum given by Ondo State government to herdsmen to leave its forest reserves.
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu had on Monday ordered Fulani herdsmen to vacate all forest reserves in the state within seven days.
Akeredolu in a statement released also banned the movement of cattle within cities and highways, as well as night grazing, saying the directive was informed by the killings and kidnappings being perpetrated in the state by people masquerading as herdsmen and using the forest for their deeds.
But the presidency on Tuesday condemned the seven-day ultimatum given to herdsmen by Akeredolu to vacate forest reserves, urging the governor ‘not to act outside the constitution of the country’.
In a statement, Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari, Garba Shehu, condemned the action of the governor.
Shehu said Akeredolu, being a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and indeed a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, 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 read, “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.'
“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. There is little to be said other than to call for restraint on both sides and urge 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.
“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.
"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.”
But Fani-Kayode has described the Presidency’s assertion as “absurd”.
The former minister who wrote the view on his Facebook page, said, “The assertion by presidential spokesman, Mallam Shehu Garba, that a bunch of murderous thugs, psychopathic vagabonds, barbaric rapists, merciless ritualists and vicious killers have a right to reside in the forests of Ondo and the South-West and continue to slaughter and rob our people is insulting, provocative, asinine and absurd.
“Quit notices cannot be given to law-abiding citizens in any part of Nigeria and I have always opposed such notices. However, they can and must be given to those that kill, steal and seek to destroy the lives of others.
“Murderous terrorists and bloodthirsty and evil men that hide in the forest to ambush, kidnap, kill and destroy innocent and hard-working men and women have no constitutional rights.
“It is the duty of the government to not only flush them out from whichever hole they are hiding but also to dispatch them to hell where they belong. Akeredolu has done and said the right thing and I urge every single southwestern governor to do the same.
“Fulani, Hausa, Igbo, Ijaw and all Nigerians are welcome in the South-West but terrorists, bandits, killers and unhinged, bloodlusting and bloodthirsty psychopaths and sociopaths are not.”
“President Buhari, do your job and stop the killings. Stop turning a blind eye simply because those they come from your tribe. Stop brushing this under the carpet and treating them with kid gloves simply because they are your foot soldiers. Stop protecting them and stop encouraging them.
“Stop sacrificing the people of the South-West on the altar of solidarity with the herdsmen and Miyetti Allah. Treat all Nigerians as equals and defend them all otherwise people will take measures to protect themselves.
“Developments in Ibarapa, Oyo state are a glaring testimony to that.”