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Akeredolu: Presidency Reaction Widens Ethnic Division, Says Falana

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Human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), says the order by the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, that herdsmen should leave forest reserves within seven days is legal.

In a statement on Sunday, Falana said the order was in tandem with Section 42 (1) (e) and (g) of the Forestry Law of Ondo State which provided that whoever in any forest reserve, except with the authority in writing of the prescribed officer, digs, cuts, turns or cultivates the soil or makes a farm or plantation; pastures cattle or permits cattle to trespass or trespasses in any part of forest reserves in which trespass shall be prohibited by an order of the governor.

The human rights lawyer said the Presidency ought to have studied the law properly before issuing a statement last week to condemn Akeredeolu.

“Without addressing the relevant provisions of the Forestry Law or reaching out to Governor Akeredolu, the Presidency rushed to the media to challenge the directive of the Ondo State Government as it might affect undocumented herders operating in the said forests. Regrettably, such official mismanagement of the crisis has been allowed to polarise the people along ethnic lines to the detriment of national security,” Falana said.

He, however, urged the state government to extend the deadline given to the herdsmen while also calling on the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria to register with the state government.

Falana stated, “With respect to the brewing crisis in Ondo State we call on Governor Akeredolu (SAN) to extend the seven-day ultimatum to allow all farmers and herders operating in the forest reserve to register with the state government without any delay.

“The Miyetti Allah and similar groups should ensure that all their members who have not registered with the state government do so without any further delay in the overall interest of the security of the people in the state.”

He called on the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to summon a Nigeria Police Council meeting to address the heightening insecurity in the country.

He addd, “As a matter of urgency, the Federal Government should mobilise adequate police and other security forces to halt the menace of kidnapping, banditry, terrorism, armed robbery and other violent crimes in the land.”

 

‘We’ll secure S’West from killer herdsmen’

Meanwhile, the Aare ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Aare Gani Adam, on Sunday warned that no amount of threat from the North would stop the Yoruba from securing the South-West from killer herdsmen.

Adams sated this in reaction to the crisis in Oyo and Ondo states between Fulani and Yoruba.

Recall that apart from the notice to quit Ondo forest reserves, a Yoruba activist, Sunday Adeyemo, aka Suday Igboho, had told the Fulani to leave the Ibarapa area of Oyo State over alleged killing and kidnapping of people in the areas by herdsmen.

The situation degenerated on Friday with the attack on the Seriki Fulani house, which drew the ire of some northern group.

But Adams said threats of attack on the South-West could fuel crisis in Ibarapa, other parts of Oyo State, as well as Ondo State.

He described the Arewa Consultative Forum and the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria as jokers over their comments against the call on killer herdsmen to leave the region, maintaining that any plot by the North against the South-West would fail.

Adams in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Aderemi, said, “My silence in the last three days doesn’t portray me as a coward, but by virtue of my position as the Aare ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, I must consult widely before taking any action.

“What Igboho said was not even as damaging to the sanctity of the nation than the call for civil war by the ACF and the Miyetti Allah put together. The killer herdsmen are the major problem; sadly, the Federal Government remains silent.

“There are reports that the Fulani herdsmen have, in the past five years, killed over 300 Yoruba people from different communities while several other people have been kidnapped with abductors paying several billions as ransom.”

Adams warned the North to drop any attempt to cause mayhem in the South-West, saying such could degenerate into chaos that might affect the entire nation.

“The Fulani, in their conqueror agenda since 1818, had caused a lot of damages to the South-West. It is clear that the South is their target; that is why anybody going against the Fulani herdsmen automatically becomes their enemy,” he added.

 

Act before Nigerians lose interest, Saraki tells Buhari 

Also, a former Senate president, Bukola Saraki, on Sunday called for caution in Oyo and Ondo states.

The former Senate leader in a statement Sunday said the development in the two states were symptomatic of the continued threat to the unity of the country.

He said, “I strongly appeal to all of us to work for peace and take initiatives that can douse tension. Both the elite and ordinary people have a responsibility to begin to take measures that will reassure the people across board that a united Nigeria will benefit everybody.

“The deafening silence by key stakeholders, leaders and others who we think should speak out is worrisome. This silence is a dangerous tell-tale sign that things are wrong. This is not good for our country.

“I appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to provide leadership. Mr President, take measures that will reassure all and sundry that you are working on the problems and that nobody should lose interest in a united, peaceful and progressive Nigeria.”

However, Northern youths under the aegis of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum condemned Akeredolu’s order.

The organisation also said the attack on Fulani community in Oyo State was troubling.

The National President of the AYCF, Alhaji Shettima Yerima, in a statement on Sunday called on the Ondo State Governor to rescind his notice to quit the Fulani communities in his state.

According to him, the northern organisation will support a constitutional ways of resolving the problem.

Yerima, said, “The AYCF will not support any group that engages in any form of criminality and such people should not be identified by their religion, tribe or ethnicity but should be treated as a criminal.”

Politicians silent on herdsmen attack over

2023 – FFK

But a former aviation minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, lamented on Sunday that some Yoruba leaders wanted to be president or vice president in 2023 and had kept silent on the injustice being done to the Yoruba race.

Fani-Kayode, who distanced himself from such leaders, wondered whose affairs they would represent or who they would lead “if all your Yoruba people have already been killed.”

He said, “Soon we shall start calling the collaborators and coward’s out by name. You betray your own just for support, acceptance and promotion from northerners whereas no northerner worth his salt will ever sell his own people out for you? Nothing could be more reprehensible than that.”

The former minister, who recalled that some soldiers recently escorted some Fulani herdsmen back to a community in Ogun State to publicly whip members of that community for evicting the herdsmen, said, “Is our Army a Nigerian Army or a Fulani Army? Are the Fulanis superior to all others? Are they above the law? Is the Presidency a Nigerian Presidency or a Fulani Presidency? Why do they always speak out in defence of killer herdsmen and never for their victims?”

In a related development, a religious coalition for both Christians and Muslims under the aegis of Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace on Sunday warned leaders not to provoke war.

The Co-Chair of IFDP and Methodist Bishop, Sunday Ndukwo Onuoha, said, “We are worried about utterances by individuals in the country, including the high and mighty. Such unguarded utterances have potentials of tearing the country apart. Wars which ravaged countries of the world have never told good stories regarding its effects on their economy.”

About Israel Ariya

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