Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum on Thursday berated the Presidency over its open display of bias and sympathy for herdsmen following the ban on grazing by Ondo State government in its forest reserves.
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu had given Fulani herdsmen notice to quit Ondo forests, but this elicited uncomplimentary comments from the Presidency.
The SMBLF, however, described Federal Government’s reaction to the Ondo governor’s order to herdsmen in its forest reserves as a continuation of the obsessive attachment to the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria.
The Forum in a joint statement by Yinka Odumakin (South West), Chief Guy Ikoku (South East), Senator Bassey Henshaw (South South) and Dr. Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt), therefore asked the Federal Government to “withdraw the unjust diktat and allow Ondo to enforce the law.”
According to the statement, “We are supposed to be a Federal Republic and forest reserves in states are fully residual matter to which the Federal Government has no business with. The FG’s statement by Garba Shehu that the Governor of Ondo lacks the powers to decide on its reserves in spite of the Land Use Act that vests land in states in the governors was a complete overreach and clear abuse of the constitution in a bid to elevate Fulani herders above the law.
“It is a continuation of the obsessive attachment to Miyetti Allah, like the President instructing Governor Ortom to go and live peaceably with killers after Miyetti Allah killed 78 citizens of the state in January 2019, to prevent Ondo from holding its rights on its reserves in the face of persistent killings of its people by herders occupying the reserves illegally.
“No decent or responsible governor would allow what the FG wants for Fulani herdsmen. The SMBLF therefore asks the Federal Government to withdraw the unjust diktat and allow Ondo to enforce the law.”