Akeredolu orders herdsmen to vacate Ondo forests

…we are not aware of governor’s order, says Miyetti Allah

The Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, has issued a seven-day ultimatum to herdsmen to vacate forest reserves in the state.

The order is part of major steps taken by the state at addressing the root cause of kidnapping and other nefarious activities in the state.

In a statement issued on his official Twitter handle, Akeredolu said the forests have been turned into a place for felons to carry out their criminal activities.

He said, “Today we have taken major steps at addressing the root cause of kidnapping, in particular, and other nefarious activities detailed and documented in security reports, the press and debriefings from victims of kidnap cases in Ondo State.

“These unfortunate incidents are traceable to the activities of some bad elements masquerading as herdsmen. These felons have turned our forest reserves into hideouts for keeping victims of kidnapping, negotiating for ransom and carrying out other criminal activities.”

He said that as the Chief Law and Security Officer of the state, it is his constitutional obligation to do everything lawful to protect the lives and property of all residents of the state.

The Governor gave the following orders saying, “All Forest Reserves in the state are to be vacated by herdsmen within the next 7 days with effect from today, Monday 18th January 2021.

“Night-grazing is banned with immediate effect because most farm destruction takes place at night.

“Movement of cattle within cities and highways is prohibited.

“Under-aged grazing of cattle is outlawed.

“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.

“In its usual magnanimity, our administration will give a grace period of seven days for those who wish to carry on with their cattle-rearing business to register with appropriate authorities.”

Meanwhile, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, which is the apex association of herdsmen in the country, said it was not aware of the order by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu that herdsmen should vacate the forest reserves in Ondo State.

Akeredolu had on Monday issued a statement, giving herdsmen seven days to vacate all forest reserves due to the high rate of kidnapping in the state.

He had said, “Today, we have taken major steps at addressing the root cause of kidnapping, in particular, and other nefarious activities detailed and documented in security reports, the press, and debriefings from victims of kidnap cases in Ondo State.

“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. In light of the foregoing, the following orders are hereby issued: All Forest Reserves in the state are to be vacated by herdsmen within the next seven days with effect from today, Monday, January 18, 2021.”

Speaking on Monday evening, however, the Secretary-General, MACBAN, Usman Baba-Ngelzerma, said his members also attended a meeting with Akeredolu but all that was discussed was putting a stop to night grazing and the activities of child herders.

He said if such an order was made, it would only be right for the state government to provide an alternative for the pastoralists.

Baba-Ngelzerma, however, said he was not aware of Akeredolu’s order and would wait for an official communication before any action is taken.

Responding to a question, he said, “The governor had a two-hour meeting today and the chairman of MACBAN in Ondo State was there and what he told me was that the agreement they reached was that we should stop night grazing and stop allowing cows to graze around government properties and that we should cooperate with Amotekun and help fish out bad eggs among them.

“That is what we were told. There was no discussion about vacating. But if they asked them to vacate the forest reserves, have they provided an alternative for them to graze? Where will they graze if they leave the forest reserves?

“As it is now, we are not aware of any order to vacate. My chairman is not aware. Even I just read about it in the media. When we have confirmed, we will know what to do.”

He further said Nigerians must be aware of the fact that not all herdsmen are members of Miyetti Allah.

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