- Says it’s a brazen display of emotional attachment
By James Sowole
As controversy continues to trail the quit notice issued by the Ondo State Government to unregistered herdsmen operating in the state, the State Government, Wednesday expressed disappointment with the statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Mr Garba Shehu, on behalf of the presidency.
Ondo State governor Rotimi Akeredolu had asked criminal elements operating as herdsmen in the state to vacate the state government forest reserves within seven days.
But Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu had in a statement Tuesday said the directive was unconstitutional.
Reacting to the statement of the Presidency, the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr Donald Ojogo, said the government’s directive was not targeting any particular ethnic group but aimed at arresting criminalities being perpetrated by those hiding under practicing their trade.
Specifically, Ojogo while featuring on a National TV Station, said the Ondo State Government did not ask Fulani to leave the state.
“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 a brazen display of emotional attachments and it’s very inimical to the corporate existence of Nigeria.
”We need to clearly define 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.
“Shehu’s 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,” Ondo State Government said.
Also reacting to Shehu’s statement, the Ondo State Youth Parliament (ODYP), in a statement by its Speaker, Smith Ikumaoayi, said the remark by the presidential aide, deliberately “leaves the point, albeit mischievously, only to harp on unfounded sentiment.”
The ODYP in a statement entitled “We Are not Coward”, declared that the governor, Mr Oluwarotimi Akeredolu had simply ordered all cattle herders, regardless of ethnic origin to register with the government, and vacate unauthorized areas, including forests.
“We make bold to state that the decision of the Governor of Ondo State is one that restores the property right to residents of the state, and the state herself.
“The entire youths of Ondo State welcome this order by the governor. The people of Ondo state are not cowards and will by no means retreat on the responsive decision taken by her governor.
“It is preposterous for Mr. Garba Shehu to state that the clear message to those masquerading as herders is contradicting, inconsistent and inaccurate in intent.
“It is as well insulting and inciting to propose a restraint by whatever means and insinuate a discord between the state government and the leadership of the Fulani communities.
“It is unfortunate that Mr. Garba Shehu, a supposed media communicator deliberately failed to differentiate between the unregistered herders asked to leave the forest and leaving Ondo State, and cattle breeders.
“We agree as a people, that the need to delink terrorism and crimes from ethnicity, geographical origins and religion is most appropriate. However, in a situation where ten out of ten cases and accounts of crimes points to a certain direction cannot be overlooked.
“Furthermore, we urge the entire Ondo State youths to be alive to their responsibilities and obligations as citizens and the future of the state. Any attempt for anyone including the Governor to concede to pressure will be resisted and we will lead the entire youths to the streets to ventilate our reservations.”