Barely 24 hours after Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu directed herdsmen to vacate forest reserves in the state within 7 days, the Federal Government countered that order saying herdsmen can’t leave the state.
In a statement issued on Tuesday by the presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, the Presidency said Akeredolu, being a senior lawyer would be the least expected to unilaterally expel thousands of herders who have lived all their lives in the state on account of the infiltration of the forests by criminals.
“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,” the statement partly read.
“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 and 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.”
According to Shehu, kidnapping, banditry and rustling are crimes no matter the motives or who is involved.
Earlier on Monday, Akeredolu explained that the order had become imperative due to the increasing incidents of kidnap cases in the state.