…condemn Presidency’s statement cautioning governor
Some South West eldere have described as timely the quit notice handed down to some herders occupying Ondo forests, by the State Governor, Chief Rotimi Akeredolu.
There are indications that some of the suspected herdsmen, who occupy parts of the forests, may be responsible for the cases of kidnapping and other violent crimes attending the state.
The forests are said to be the hideouts of the criminal elements, who escape with their victims there, while ransoms are negotiated.
The elders, who also took a swipe at the Presidency over the latter’s statement cautioning the governor against his directive, accused it of alleged undue meddlesomeness in issues within the purview of the state.
It will be recalled that following the high rate of kidnappings in Ondo State, allegedly committed by criminals hiding in forests across the state, the governor had given herdsmen a seven-day ultimatum to vacate the areas.
Reacting after Fulani leadership under the aegis of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) cried out over the governor’s action, the Presidency in a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, cautioned the governor against his action, saying the herders cannot leave the forests for any reason.
The development has drawn the attention of some Yoruba elders who accused the Federal Government of abandoning its core responsibilities to meddle in issues within the purview of state governors.
Speaking under the auspices of Coalition of Oduduwa Elders, the Yoruba elders warned the Presidency to steer clear of governance issues in Ondo or any other state in the country, saying the governor’s action was the best in protecting the lives of Ondo citizens.
This, they said, was because the Federal Government, which has exclusive control of conventional security architecture in the country, had allegedly failed to protect the people.
The group, in a statement, noted that some of the affected “herdsmen coming into the state are doing so not for the purpose of grazing, but killing and destroying property.”
“The marauders, who usually come without cattle, engage in kidnappings, attacking communities in guerrilla style of warfare, killings, burn houses and destroying property!
“Should the governor fold his hands and look the other way while his people are being massively kidnapped, killed and their property destroyed? No, these have to stop now. And the only way to stop it is what Chief Akeredolu has done,” they said.
While commending Governor Akeredolu for what it described as his “bold steps” in safeguarding the lives and property of citizens, the group wondered why the Presidency had only stepped in at a time the governor asked alleged “perpetrators” to quit the places of their nefarious activities.
“We, the Yoruba elders, under this noble umbrella body known as Coalition of Oduduwa Elders, have watched with great concern the turn of events in the South West, especially in Ondo culminating in the notice to herders to quit forests by Chief Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN).
“We have equally painstakingly watched the rushed statement by the Presidency through one of its spokesmen, Mallam Garba Shehu, cautioning the governor against his action and instead, declaring that the people who have been identified to be responsible for kidnappings, banditry and killings in the state cannot vacate the areas they use to carry out their nefarious activities.
“This is strange to us given that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria vested certain powers on state governors as chief security officers of their respective states on certain steps they can take to safeguard the lives of citizens and their property.
“Akeredolu, to the best of our knowledge is a sitting governor of Ondo State. Until he is out of office, he has the constitutional mandate to device the best ways possible in giving his people who voted him into office good and quality leadership. The quit notice to herders to leave Ondo forests is one of those steps he has taken to protect the citizenry. So,we ask the Presidency to leave him alone,” they said.
The Yoruba group, said:”We observed that the Presidency’s statement came only shortly after the leadership of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) publicly called on it to come out with urgent reaction regarding the governor’s action.
“We are surprised that the Presidency, which has not reacted to the cries of the people of Ondo or South West, leaving the region to form Ametokun security outfit to protect its people,would be so concerned to issue a rushed statement over the governor’s action! “