Aareonakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Abiodun Ige Adams, has discribed the presidency under General Mohammadu Buhari as the biggest threat to the sanctity of states in the Nigerian federation after recent intervention by Garba Shehu, presidency spokesman, over Ondo’s ultimatum that illegal herdsmen quit the state’s forest reserves.
Chief Adams said that the Ondo state governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu(SAN) has the rights under the Nigerian constitution to order quit notice and ultimatum to illegal residents in the state’s reserved forests.
He also said it is the duty of the governor as the chief security officer of the state to protect the lives and properties of residents in the state.
Akeredolu had on Monday, given a seven-day ultimatum to herders to vacate the forests in the state following the growing insecurity allegedly perpetrated by the pastoralists.
But in a swift reaction, the presidency, in a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, maintained that asking the herders to vacate the reserved forests could set off a chain of events which the constitution anticipated and tried to guard against.
The presidential aide said that there is little to be said other than to call for restraint on both sides and urge the state government and the leadership of the Fulani communities to continue their dialogue for a good understanding that will bring to an urgent end, the nightmarish security challenges facing the state.
But in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Aderemi, Aare Adams said the presidency had failed to address the security situation across the country.
The Yoruba leader described Garba Shehu’s statement as a threat to the sanctity of the state, and a delibrate attempt to work against the state government’s interest, especially, on issue of security.
Aare Gani Adams said though the reserved forests are some of the heritages of the federal government they are under the jurisdiction of the state government .
“Garba Shehu/Presidency apparently doesn’t know the meaning of a reserved forests. It’s not accessible except to authorized personnel/loggers. Apart from the place being a place for valued cash trees, it’s also meant as a haven of safety for protected animals against poachers. The herdsmen living in the forest are not only unauthorized, they would likely cut down trees to make fires and must also kill animals for food”.
“A reserved forest is not a place of residence for anyone, not even Ondo indigenes or farmers. It is most unfortunate that such a statement is coming directly from the presidency, who according to the constitution, has the prerogative to protect the lives and property of citizens in the country now looking for ways to foil the good plans and intentions of the state government to get rid of the bad elements that are masquerading as herders and pastorists in the state.
Iba Gani Adams said the reserved forests were meant to be the heritage of the state,and not for herders or pastoralists, maintaining that Akeredolu as the governor is the chief security officer of the state and that he has the right under the 1999 Nigerian constitution as amended to protect the lives and property of the citizenry.
“We are all a witnesses to the various security challenges in Ondo state.
“The governor’s convoy was attacked on two occasions.
“Two prominent Obas in the state have been kidnapped on different occasions.
“The security situation in the state is always nightmarish because it was in Ondo state that a first class monarch was killed by bandits masquerading as Fulani herdsmen.
“It was also in Ondo state that a university lecturer was abducted, it was in Ondo state that the daughter of Afenifere leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti was murdered, even chief Olu Falae’s farm was invaded on four occasions, leading to the death of one of our members, who was a security man.
“These sad events and several others largedly showed that the state is in serious security challenges and it is in the interest of the state for governor Rotimi Akeredolu to respond swiftly to the various security challenges.
“I am from Akoko North West in Ondo state, all our reserved forests have been taken over illegally by these illegal residents. So the governor’s decision is in the right direction and it is in the interest of the state.
” I am now using this opportunity to call on all Yoruba sons and daughters to support all the governors in the southwest in their fight against insurgency across the region.”
Akeredolu, meanwhile, had in a statement affirmed the state’s determination to end the security challenges in the state, adding that the quit notice order stands, stressing that no amount of threat can stop the state government from getting rid of the bad elements in Ondo state.