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Presidency, Ondo trade words over Akeredolu’s herders evacuation order

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The Nigerian Ondo State governments have been in the news since Monday tackling each other over the directive by the state government ordering “unregistered” herdsmen out of the state’s forest reserves.

Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu on Monday gave herders in the state seven days to vacate all forest reserves in the state, noting that the activities of the herders have long been threatening the security of the state.

Also, the governor met with leaders of Hausa/Fulani and Ebira communities at his office and then mandated those who wish to carry on with their cattle-rearing business to register with appropriate authorities within the next seven days or risk evacuation from the state.

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In a swift response from the presidency, Garba Shehu, the president’s senior special assistant on media and publicity, said the Ondo government should rather dialogue with the leadership of the Fulani communities in the state.

Shehu said, while the presidency would not condone any form of criminality, it is cruel 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”.

He said Akeredolu, being a lawyer, “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”.

“The government of Ondo and all the 35 others across the federation must draw clear lines between the criminals and the law-abiding citizens who must equally be saved from the infiltrators,” he said.

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However, the state government, despite reactions from the presidency, remains resolute.

Donald Ojogo, the commissioner for information and orientation, on Tuesday, said the response by presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, ”reeks of emotional attachment to the herdsmen”.

“Mr Shehu’s statement is a brazen display of emotional attachments and it’s very inimical to the corporate existence of Nigeria,” the Punch Newspaper quoted Ojogo as saying.

“Ethnic nationality and activism on the part of anyone hiding under the presidency or federal government is an ill wind,” he said.

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“We need clearly defined 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.”

Various killings, rape and kidnappings for ransom have become the order of the day across the nation, with Ondo not an exception.

In 2015, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Olu Falae, was kidnapped by suspected armed herders on his farm in Akure, the Ondo State capital. Despite efforts by police to free him, the chieftain still paid N5 million to regain his freedom.

Olufunke Olakurin, the daughter of the Afenifere chieftain, Reuben Fasoranti, was also shot and killed while on her way to Lagos by suspected herdsmen along Ore Road.

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