Human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), on Sunday, January 24, slammed the Presidency for its opposition to the order by the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, that herdsmen should leave forest reserves within seven days is legal.
This was contained in a statement issued in Lagos.
According to Falana, the order was in tandem with Section 42 (1) (e) and (g) of the Forestry Law of Ondo State.
The section stated that whoever in any forest reserve, except with the authority in writing of the prescribed officer; digs; cuts; turns or cultivates the soil or makes a farm or plantation; pastures cattle or permits cattle to trespass; or trespasses in any part of forest reserves in which trespass shall be prohibited by an order of the governor.
Falana also said the Presidency ought to have studied the law properly; before issuing a statement last week to condemn Akeredeolu.
“Without addressing the relevant provisions of the Forestry Law or reaching out to Governor Akeredolu, the Presidency rushed to the media to challenge the directive of the Ondo State Government; as it might affect undocumented herders operating in the said forests. Regrettably, such official mismanagement of the crisis has been allowed to polarise the people along ethnic lines; to the detriment of national security,” Falana said.
He, however, urged the state government to extend the deadline given to the herdsmen; while also calling on the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria to register with the state government.
Falana stated, “With respect to the brewing crisis in Ondo State we call on Governor Akeredolu (SAN) to extend the seven-day ultimatum; to allow all farmers and herders operating in the forest reserve to register with the state government without any delay.
“The Miyetti Allah and similar groups should ensure that all their members who have not registered with the state government do so; without any further delay in the overall interest of the security of the people in the state.”
He also implored President Muhammadu Buhari to summon a Nigeria Police Council meeting; to address the heightening insecurity in the country.