Governor Rotimi Akeredolu’s directive that herdsmen should vacate Ondo’s forest reserves has been described as contradictory and unconstitutional by some Nigerians while others hail the order.
Some analysts and legal practitioners who spoke to newsmen maintained that the statement by the Ondo governor was indirectly asking herders to leave the state, which was against the Nigerian Constitution.
However, others supported the governor saying he has the right to ask questionable characters to leave.
Governor Akeredolu, who gave the directive on Monday, asked all herders to leave within the next seven days. The ultimatum will lapse on Sunday, January 24.
On his verified Twitter handle, he also banned night-grazing and movement of cattle within the cities and highways of Ondo.
‘Not on the agenda’
But the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) in Ondo said what the governor posted on his Twitter handle was different from what they discussed during their meeting with him on Monday.
Its chairman, Alhaji Bello Garba, told one of our correspondents that they held a meeting with the governor during which he admonished them to work with security agencies in exposing criminals.
“We are not aware of any order from the governor directing our people to vacate Ondo forest reserves because during our face-to-face meeting with him yesterday, he did not say anything like that,” he said.
According to the Miyetti Allah leader, “The governor summoned a meeting with us, the Fulani leaders and those representing farmers to discuss security issues. He said farmers and herders live in the forests and that is where criminals live.
“He said we should expose criminals who are kidnapping people for ransom. The governor also asked us to ask our people to desist from night grazing or moving our cattle on the highway. This is all I know,” Alhaji Garba said.
Also, one of the national leaders of Miyetti Allah said the directive by Akeredolu will not stand because it was a constitutional matter.
The official, who does not want his name mentioned, said the federal government must speak out before the issue degenerates to something else.
The expulsion came less than a week after a leading thug in Oyo State, Sunday Igboho, asked the Fulani to leave the State.
However, efforts to get clarification from those speaking on behalf of the Ondo governor on the vacation order were not successful.
The Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr Donald Ojogo, said he cannot talk about it adding that the governor is a lawyer and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
Spokesman for the governor, Segun Ajiboye did not pick his calls. When contacted to comment on the matter, the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Tony Ojukwu, said, “When last I checked, there is still freedom of movement in the constitution. Unless there is a law authorizing this directive, if it is disobeyed, how will it be enforced?
“We are a country of laws bound by the constitution and people should desist from making statements that cannot be justified by the law or the constitution. I don’t have the facts and I am only commenting purely on the law and the rights in the 1999 Constitution,” he said.
What Akeredolu said
The Ondo governor yesterday attributed kidnapping and other nefarious acts in his state to the activities of “some bad elements masquerading as herdsmen.”
While saying the decision to ask them to leave was taken based on security documents, Akeredolu said the resolution was a decisive action that will restore peace and order in the state.
According to him, “Today we have taken major steps at addressing the root cause of kidnapping, in particular, and other nefarious activities detailed and documented in security reports, the press and debriefings from victims of kidnap cases in Ondo State.
“These unfortunate incidents are traceable to the activities of some bad elements masquerading as herdsmen. These felons have turned our forest reserves into hideouts for keeping victims of kidnapping, negotiating for ransom and carrying out other criminal activities.”
In light of the foregoing, Governor Akeredolu highlighted the following orders:
All forest reserves in the state are to be vacated by herdsmen within the next 7 days with effect from today, Monday 18th January, 2021.
Night-grazing is banned with immediate effect because most farm destruction takes place at night.Movement of cattle within cities and highways is prohibited.
Under-aged grazing of cattle is outlawed.
“Our resolution to guarantee the safety of lives and property within the state shall remain utmost as security agencies have been directed to enforce the ban.
“In its usual magnanimity, our administration will give a grace period of seven days for those who wish to carry on with their cattle-rearing business to register with appropriate authorities,” the governor said.
The governor did not give more details on how herders would register, and whether after they register, they could access the forest reserves.
It was also not clear whether the Ondo State Government was planning to establish ranches.
(Source: Daily Trust)