By Adejumo Enock
The Federal Government of Nigeria has countered Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu directives that herdsmen should vacate forest reserves in the state within 7 days.
The Presidency said Akeredolu, being a senior lawyer would be the least expected to unilaterally expel thousands of herders who have lived all their lives in the state on account of the infiltration of the forests by criminals.
This was contained in a statement issued by the presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu on Tuesday.
The statement in part reads, “Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, a seasoned lawyer, Senior Advocate of Nigeria and indeed, a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has fought crime in his state with passion and commitment, greater sensitivity and compassion for the four years he has run its affairs and, in our view, will be the least expected to unilaterally oust thousands of herders who have lived all their lives in the state on account of the infiltration of the forests by criminals”.
“If this were to be the case, rights groups will be right in expressing worries that the action could set off a chain of events which the makers of our constitution foresaw and tried to guard against”.
Furthermore, “We want to make it clear that kidnapping, banditry and rustling are crimes, no matter the motive or who is involved. But, to define crime from the nameplates, as a number of commentators have erroneously done- which group they belong to, the language they speak, their geographical location or their faith is atavistic and cruel”. The statement reads.