The presidency has slammed Governor Rotimi Akeredolu’s deadline to herdsmen to leave Ondo forest reserves.
Muhammadu Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, slammed Akeredolu’s quit notice in a statement made available to newsmen.
According to the statement, the presidency had carefully watched events happening in Ondo State and has asked the leadership of the Fulani communities to carry on with their dialogue for a mutual understanding that would bring a lasting solution to the menacing security challenges.
The statement read: “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 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.
“We need to delink terrorism and crimes from ethnicity, geographical origins and religion—to isolate the criminals who use this interchange of arguments to hinder law enforcement efforts as the only way to deal effectively with them.
“The President, who swore to defend the constitution has spoken against the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in asking citizens of Northern origin to leave; he did not spare the group based in Sokoto, ‘Muslim Solidarity Forum,’ which asked the Bishop of Sokoto to leave and is prepared to do all that the law permits to protect citizens all over the country in their choice of where they wished to reside and are treated as equal citizens.”
He appealed to Ondo state government to make effort to separate criminals from law-abiding citizens and commended the governor for combating crime with passiin and commitment in his state.