South-West Socio-cultural organisation, Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), has described the order given by the Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, to herdsmen to vacate forest reserves in the state, as necessary and long overdue.
Speaking with SaharaReporters on Wednesday, the secretary general of the group, Dr Kunle Olajide, said the vacation order should have come earlier.
He said, "Since 2015, these herders have been prodding our forest reserves, destroying our farms, killing our people, raping our women and kidnapping for ransom and we have complained over and over again but it appears as if the Federal Government and security agencies turned a deaf ear to our complaints. And in any case, I am not aware of any law in Nigeria that allows anybody to invade another state or local government, or another town, and destroy their resources and the people would fold their arms."
He also described the Presidency's reaction to the vacation order given by Akeredolu as unconstitutional, and as every state has the right to own and protect her investment, the Ondo State governor cannot be faulted.
"The governors are supposed to be the chief security officers of their states and in any case, the land belongs to the states under the Land Use Act. It is under the control of the state governor. The state governor cannot be expected to fold his arms and watch his people being killed and kidnapped for ransoms.
"It is unfortunate that we are running a unitary system of government and the paradox in our 1999 constitution is the fact that governors are chief security officers but all the security agencies report to the Federal Government. But nevertheless, we have the judiciary; the third arm of government is supposed to be independent. I'm sure, for the embarrassment issued from the Presidency, Governor Akeredolu, who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, will know how to react. He will approach the court and appeal to the court to compel the Inspector General of Police to implement the order and punish violators of the order."
The elder statesman urged the Nigerian government to do the needful by letting security officers understand that they must enforce orders issued by the lawful authority in the state.
"The government must initiate immediately the process of writing a Federal Peoples' Constitution for Nigeria before 2023 if they are genuinely interested and committed to the unity and progress of Nigeria as they claim," he said.
Akererolu had on Monday, ordered Fulani herdsmen to vacate all forest reserves in the state within seven days.
He also banned the movement of cattle within cities and highways, as well as night grazing.
The Presidency, on Tuesday, condemned the seven-day ultimatum given to herdsmen by Akeredolu, to vacate forest reserves, urging the governor ‘not to act outside the constitution of the country’.
In a recent development, the Ondo State Government vowed not to rescind the ultimatum it issued to herdsmen as the governor ordered the clearing of bushes on the highways across the 18 local government areas of the state in order to allow a proper view of the highway.