PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari appears to have finally conceded that state governments are right to oppose the murderous activities of Fulani herdsmen within their domains after he gave Governor Rotimi Akeredolu the go-ahead to flush out criminals in Ondo State.
Over the last week, tension has mounted across Nigeria after Governor Akeredolu gave herdsmen operating in the forests of Ondo State seven days to leave. In response to violent crimes like kidnapping, armed robbery and banditry, the governor introduced a registration programme and said anyone not registered should leave Ondo State.
With a similar situation brewing in Oyo State, there are fears that the crisis could escalate, especially with certain northern groups threatening reciprocal evictions. To help ease the tension, Governor Akeredolu and several other leaders from the southwest geo-political zone travelled to Abuja to meet with President Buhari.
Ondo State information commissioner, Donald Ojogo, said that at the meeting, President Buhari backed Governor Akeredolu’s plans to flush out all criminals in the state, especially those in the forest reserves. He added that at the meeting, Governor Akeredolu briefed the president on the precarious security situation in the southwest region, especially that of Ondo State.
Mr Ojogo said: “It was a huge opportunity for the governor to put the records straight as regards the erroneous impression that Governor Akeredolu had asked all Fulani and herdsmen to vacate the state. The meeting afforded both leaders a great window to explore ingenious methods to tackle the issue of insecurity in the region.
“In particular, Governor Akeredolu sought and indeed obtained the president’s support and encouragement to flush out criminals in the forests of Ondo State. Following the high rate of kidnappings, raping of women and killings being committed by criminals hiding in forests across Ondo State, Governor Akeredolu had given herdsmen a seven-day ultimatum to vacate the areas.”
However, in a swift reaction, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (Macban) cautioning Governor Akeredolu against the move, saying the herders cannot leave the forests for any reason. Of late, the issue of insecurity allegedly being perpetrated by Fulani herdsmen has generated a lot of concerns in the southwest in recent days.