Politics

Presidency says Akeredolu cannot go against the constitution by ousting herdsmen from state; Ondo State Government reacts

Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State

The Presidency on Tuesday stated that Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State cannot go against the Constitution and unilaterally oust Fulani herdsmen in the state.

Mallam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, stated this while reacting to Governor Akeredolu’s order for herdsmen to leave the Ondo Forest with 7 days.

According to Shehu, the governor’s order could set off a chain of events which the constitution anticipated and tries to guard against.

The statement issued by Mallam Shehu titled, ‘In tackling crime, Ondo State Government will not act outside the constitution,’ reads below;

“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.’

“What is clearly emerging, is a lack of consistency in messaging which in turn leads to various contradictions regarding the accuracy and the intent behind the message.

“There is little to be said other than to call for restraint on both sides and urge the state government and the leadership of the Fulani communities to continue their dialogue for a good understanding that will bring to an urgent end, the nightmarish security challenges facing the state.

“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. 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.

“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.”

Ondo State Government reacts
Reacting to the statement issued by the Presidency, the Ondo State Government said the Presidency statement had stated “unambiguously, the position of the Federal Government.”

“The Ondo State Government did not ask Fulani to leave the state. The governor said herdsmen who are unregistered should leave our forests. The statement from Garba Shehu is brazen display of emotional attachments and it’s very inimical to the corporate existence of Nigeria. We need clearly defined actions on the part of the Federal Government to decimate the erroneous impression that the inspiration of these criminal elements masquerading as herdsmen is that of power. Our unity is threatened, no doubt.

“It (statement) states in a breath that the governor fights crime with passion while it is prevaricating on the atrocities. The question is, are the herdsmen who are perpetrating murder, kidnapping and robbery more important than government and even the Federal Government in this case? Ethnic nationality and activism on the part of anyone hiding under the Presidency or federal government is an ill wind,” the commissioner added.

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