The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) has said the stance of the Presidency on the Ondo State directive banning herdsmen from the state’s forest shows the “obsessive attachment” of the Buhari administration to Miyetti Allah, the apex association of herdsmen in the country.
The SMBLF made the claim in a statement jointly signed by by Yinka Odumakin (South West), Chief Guy Ikoku (South East), Senator Bassey Henshaw (South South) and Dr. Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt), on Thursday.
In a statement issued by Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, on Tuesday, the Presidency faulted Governor Rotimi Akeredolu’s directive for herdsmen to vacate Ondo State’s forest reserves within one week due to the high rate of kidnapping in the state.
According to the Presidency, Governor Akeredolu, who is a seasoned lawyer and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), should “not… act outside the constitution of the country”.
But reacting, the SMBLF said the Presidency overreached its constitutional power by making a pronouncement on a matter that is domiciled within the state governor’s purview.
It accused the Presidency of elevating Fulani herdsmen above the law of the land.
The statement read: “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.”