By James Sowole
To stop the rising cases of kidnapping in Ondo State, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu yesterday ordered herdsmen to vacate all government forest reserves in the state within seven days.
The governor gave the order during an interactive meeting with the leadership of the Hausa/Fulani and Ebira Communities in the state held at the Cocoa Conference Hall of the Governor’s Office, Alagbaka in Akure.
Akeredolu, who talked tough on the activities of the criminal elements in the state said security reports and debriefings from victims of kidnap cases pointed in one direction traceable to some bad elements masquerading as herdsmen.
“We have cases of several attacks on our people by these mindless elements. You will recall the gruesome murder of one of the members of the Ondo State Traditional Council who was caught in the web of the devious plans of these workers of evil on his way back to his domain.
“While we were still grieving, other kidnap attempts were made on the lives of road users across the state, especially along our boundaries and hinterland,” he said.
At the meeting, which was also attended by the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Bolaji Salami, and the state Commandant of the Amotekun Corps, Mr. Tunji Adeleye, the governor announced a ban on night grazing in the state.
He also placed a ban on the movement of cattle within cities and highways in the state, while also outlawing under-aged grazing of cattle.
Akeredolu decried the activities of the criminal elements, adding that they have turned forest reserves in the state and across the South-west into hideouts for keeping victims of kidnapping, negotiating for ransom and carrying out other criminal activities.
“As the Chief Law and Security Officer of the State, it is my constitutional obligation to do everything lawful to protect the lives and property of all residents of the State.
“Recent security trends attest that these times require all hands to be on the deck as the difficulties we face are dire. The challenges are quite enormous but we are determined to confront them head-on.
“We decided that all the criminal elements who hide under various guises to aid the destruction of farmlands as well as perpetrate other violent crimes such as kidnapping, drug peddling and other nefarious activities must be stamped out of our dear State.
However, Akeredolu said the administration in its usual magnanimity would give a grace period of seven days for those who wish to carry on with their cattle-rearing business to register with appropriate authorities.
“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.”
The governor reassured the residents that the State Security Council, under his leadership, shall not relent in tackling these challenges as pragmatically possible saying “we shall remove all threats in no distant future.”