Presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu has said that Governor Rotimi Akeredolu doesn’t have the power to order herders out of Ondo state.
Akeredolu had in a series of tweets on Monday announced a seven-day ultimatum for herders to vacate the Ondo state forest reserve citing insecurity.
In a swift reaction, Shehu said the directive could lead to problems the constitution was created to guard against.
He called for dialogue on both sides that will led to a good understanding and end the security problems in the state.
Shehu said it is cruel to define crime through “nameplates, as a number of commentators have erroneously done- which group they belong to, the language they speak, their geographical location or their faith”.
“The Presidency has been keenly monitoring events occurring in Ondo State and the “orders” by the government of the state, “asking herders to vacate the forests in seven days,” the statement read.
“What is clearly emerging, is a lack of consistency in messaging which in turn leads to various contradictions regarding accuracy and the intent behind the message.
“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.
“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. 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.”
Shehu said Buhari has always spoken about threat like this.
“The president 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 said.
“The government of Ondo, and all the 35 others across the federation must draw clear lines between the criminals and the law abiding citizens who must equally be saved from the infiltrators. Beyond law and order, the fight against crime is also a fight for human values which are fundamental to our country.”