Elders in the South West have thrown their weight behind the governor of Ondo State, Chief Rotimi Akeredolu’s quit notice to herders to quite forest in the state following worsening cases of kidnappings traced to criminals hiding in the areas.
The Yoruba elders operating under the umbrella of Coalition of Oduduwa Elders accused the Presidency of undue meddlesomeness in issues within the purview of the state.
They warned the Presidency to steer clear of governance issues in Ondo or any other state in the country, saying the governor’s action was the best in protecting the lives of Ondo citizens.
This is contained in a statement jointly signed by its National Coordinator, Dr Tunde Aremu and National Secretary, Barr. Mrs Folake Ajasin.
The statement said since the federal government which has exclusive control of conventional security architecture in the country, had failed to protect the people, the governor must not to be distracted.
While, regretting that Ondo forests have become launching pads for herdsmen, the elders noted that the “herdsmen coming into the state are doing so not for the purpose of grazing, but killing and destroying property.”
“The marauders, who usually come without cattle, engage in kidnappings, attacking communities in 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.
“We commend Governor Akeredolu for his bold steps in safeguarding the lives and property of citizens. We wonder why the Presidency had only stepped in at a time the governor asked alleged perpetrators to quit the places of their nefarious activities.
“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 one of its spokesmen, Mallam 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. Akeredolu, to the best of our knowledge is a sitting governor of Ondo State. Until he is out of office, he has the constitutional mandate to device the best ways possible in giving his people who voted him into office good and quality leadership. 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,” the statement said.
Recall that following the high rate of kidnappings in Ondo State, allegedly committed by criminals hiding in forests across the state, the governor had given herdsmen a seven-day ultimatum to vacate the areas.
But reacting, after Fulani leadership under the aegis of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN, cried out over the governor’s action, the Presidency in a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, cautioned the governor against his action, saying the herders cannot leave the dreaded forests for any reason.
They said that the development has drawn their attention to the federal government’s abandoning of its core responsibilities to meddle in issues within the purview of state governors.
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