The Ondo State government on Tuesday, January 19, slammed the statement credited to the presidency on the directive given herdsmen to vacate the state’s forest reserves; describing it as a brazen display of emotional attachment.
1st News had also reported that the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Garba Shehu, in a statement titled: “In tackling crime, Ondo State Government will not act outside the constitution,” issued on Tuesday night, condemned the ultimatum given the herdsmen to vacate the Ondo State forest reserves by the state government.
Shehu said: “It 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.
“We want to make it clear that kidnapping; banditry; as well as rustling are crimes; no matter the motive or who is involved. But, to define crime from the nameplates, as a number of commentators have erroneously done – which group they belong to; the language they speak; their geographical location; or their faith is atavistic and cruel.”
However, in its remarks, the Ondo State government in a statement issued by the state’s Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Donald Ojogo, insisted that such attachment is inimical to the corporate existence of Nigeria.
According to Ojogo, the presidency statement had stated the position of the Federal Government on the matter.
He said: “The Ondo State government did not ask Fulani to leave the state. The governor said herdsmen who are unregistered should leave our forests. The statement from Garba Shehu is a brazen display of emotional attachments; and it’s very inimical to the corporate existence of Nigeria.
“We need clearly defined actions on the part of the Federal Government to decimate the erroneous impression; that the inspiration of these criminal elements masquerading as herdsmen is that of power. Our unity is threatened, no doubt.
“It (statement) states in a breath that the governor fights crime with passion; while it is prevaricating on the atrocities. The question is, are the herdsmen who are perpetrating murder; kidnapping; as well as robbery more important than government; and even the Federal Government in this case? Ethnic nationality and activism on the part of anyone hiding under the presidency or federal government is an ill wind.”
The commissioner had in an earlier statement declared that there was no going back on the state government’s directives for herdsmen to vacate all the forest reserves in the state.