Yoruba elders, under the aegis of Coalition of Oduduwa Elders, has backed the move by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State to evict Fulani herdsmen from forests in the state.
The elders also warned the Presidency to stay away from matters as this has to do with the security of lives and properties of Ondo people.
The Yoruba Elders Coalition condemned the Presidency’s statement and cautioned the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Garba Shehu while accusing the Federal Government of meddling in issues within the purview of state governors.
“You can’t dictate for governors how to run their states for safety of their people,” they tell FG, insisting that the governor’s action is in order, and not in breach of existing law
The elders further called on the Presidency to examine statements from Garba Shehu critically before releasing them to the public.
Following the high rate of criminalities which come in form of kidnappings, raping of women and killings allegedly committed by criminals hiding in forests across the state, Governor Akeredolu had given herdsmen a seven-day ultimatum to vacate the areas.
But in a swift reaction, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria cried out over the governor’s directive leading to Shehu’s statement cautioning Akeredolu against the move, saying the herders cannot leave the forests for any reason.
The development drew the attention of the Yoruba elders who accused the federal government of abandoning its core responsibilities to meddle in issues within the purview of state governors.
The group, in a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Dr Tunde Aremu and National Secretary, Barr. Mrs Folake Ajasin, respectively, asked the governor not to be distracted by actions of those who, according to them, “have failed to safeguard the lives of Nigerians.”
Regretting that the Ondo forests have become launching pads for herdsmen, the elders noted that the “herdsmen coming into the state are doing so not for grazing, but killing and destroying of properties.”
“The marauders, who usually come without cattle, engage in kidnappings, attacking communities in the guerrilla style of warfare, killings, burning houses and destroying other property!
“Should the governor fold his hands and look the other way while his people are being massively kidnapped, killed and their property destroyed? No, these have to stop now. And the only way to stop it is what Chief Akeredolu has done,” they said.
“We, the Yoruba elders under this noble umbrella body known as Coalition of Oduduwa Elders have watched with great concerns the turn of events in the South West, especially in Ondo culminating in the notice to herders to quit forests by Chief Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN.
“We have equally painstakingly watched the rushed statement by the Presidency through Garba Shehu, cautioning the governor against his action and instead, declaring that the people who have been identified to be responsible for kidnappings, banditry and killings in the state cannot vacate the areas they use to carry out their nefarious activities.
“This is strange to us given that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria vested certain powers on state governors as chief security officers of their respective states on certain steps they can take to safeguard the lives of citizens and their property.
“The quit notice to herders to leave Ondo forests is one of those steps he has taken to protect the citizenry. So, we ask the Presidency to leave him alone,” they said.
“We are surprised that the Presidency which has not reacted to the cries of the people of Ondo or South West, leaving the region to form Ametokun security outfit to protect its people, would be so concerned to issue a rushed statement over the governor’s action! “