Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo state has insisted that nobody would be allowed to operate in the state’s forest reserves without approval and gave Fulani herders a seven-day ultimatum to vacate the State’s forest reserve.
The Commissioner for Agriculture, Gboyega Adefarati who disclosed this in a statement on behalf of the governor, said the activities of the farmers had to be regulated to reduce criminality.
He revealed that over 50,000 farmers engaged in different forms of agricultural activities in the forest reserves had been registered. He also said 70 percent of the government reserves had been encroached upon by farmers as of 2017.
He said: “Love it or leave it; farming is farming be it crop production or animal husbandry. If any Nigerian irrespective of his/her State of origin desires land for farming in Government Forest Reserves, he/she must apply to the Ondo State Ministry of Agriculture and pay the normal fee for the required hectares of land.
“It is illegal for herdsmen to encroach Ondo State Government Forest Reserves without permission and graze on the farms, many of which will be destroyed. Let me say it again and again that no activity (hunting, planting crops and animal rearing) can be done in Ondo State Forest Conservation without permission. The laws guiding Ondo State Forest are clear and concise on it”.
Meanwhile, the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) Wednesday expressed shock over Governor Rotimi Akeredolu’s seven-day ultimatum issued to Fulani herders in ondo state to vacate forest reserves in the state.
Spokesman of the forum, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, disclosed this in a statement made available to newsmen, where he described the governor’s order as provocative and unhelpful.
Akeredolu had earlier asked herdsme to leave the state’s forest reserves within seven days and banned underage grazing, night grazing, and movement of cattle within the cities and highways.
However, the forum maintained that the Fulani herdsmen would not accept unfair treatment, challenging the governor to isolate criminals and treat them as such.
He said, “Northern Elders Forum is shocked at reports that Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), is asking a Fulani community to leave its lawful location, in addition to other restrictions on activities of Fulani people who have lived in the state for a long period.
“Governor Akeredolu is a senior lawyer who should know that the constitution does not give him the power to deny any Nigerian the right to live where he chooses if he does not break the law in the process. His duty to protect and improve the security of citizens and all people in Ondo State cannot be challenged.
“No Nigerian has the power to take punitive action against citizens on political grounds. The forum believes that the action of the governor is provocative and unhelpful.
“If there are criminal elements among the Fulani who live in the state, the governor should take appropriate steps to identify them and deal with them. Similarly, the Fulani do not enjoy legal immunity in any part of Nigeria.
“The Fulani are subject to all laws and regulations and must respect the communities with which they live and interact. What is dangerous and unacceptable is to profile and demonise the Fulani and treat him outside the laws of the land like all other Nigerians.
“The Fulani community in Ondo state should stay put where they are and continue to be law-abiding.
“We call on Governor Akeredolu to rescind his order on the Fulani, or clarify his position in the event that he is misunderstood. For the avoidance of doubt, no Fulani anywhere in Nigeria will accept unfair and illegal treatment just for being Fulani.”he added