The presidency on Tuesday condemned Governor Rotimi Akeredolu’s ultimatum to herdsmen to vacate Ondo forest reserves.
This was revealed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement made available to newsmen.
The statement revealed that the presidency had carefully monitored events occurring in Ondo State and called for the leadership of the Fulani communities to continue their dialogue for a good understanding that would bring to an urgent end the nightmarish security challenges.
The statement read, “It will be the least expected to unilaterally oust thousands of herders who have lived all their lives in the state on account of the infiltration of the forests by criminals.
“If this were to be the case, rights groups will be right in expressing worries that the action could set off a chain of events which the makers of our constitution foresaw and tried to guard against.
“We want to make it clear that kidnapping, banditry and rustling are crimes, no matter the motive or who is involved. But, to define crime from the nameplates, as a number of commentators have erroneously done- which group they belong to, the language they speak, their geographical location or their faith is atavistic and cruel.
“We need to delink terrorism and crimes from ethnicity, geographical origins and religion—to isolate the criminals who use this interchange of arguments to hinder law enforcement efforts as the only way to deal effectively with them.
“The President, who swore to defend the constitution has spoken against the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in asking citizens of Northern origin to leave; he did not spare the group based in Sokoto, ‘Muslim Solidarity Forum,’ which asked the Bishop of Sokoto to leave and is prepared to do all that the law permits to protect citizens all over the country in their choice of where they wished to reside and are treated as equal citizens.”
He urged the state government to draw clear lines between the criminals and the law-abiding citizens.
Shehu further commended the governor for fighting crime in his state with passion and commitment.
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