From From Adetutu Folasade-Koyi, Okwe Obi, Abuja, Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure, Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
The Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) has declared support for Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, on the quit order he gave to Fulani herdsmen in the state, stressing that it was not intended to cause ethnic crisis in the country and the state, in particular, but to prevent crime.
Rising from a meeting held with the leadership of Miyeti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) in Akure, the Ondo State capital, yesterday, the NGF said governor Akeredolu did not send Fulani herdsmen away from the state, but only asked them to leave the government’s farm settlements and, also, register for proper identification.
Chairman of the forum and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, who made the disclosure, yesterday, said the governor was misconstrued by the media.
Fayemi said the meeting was called to resolve the issue of insecurity in the South-West and to ensure peaceful coexistence among the people of the region and those from other tribes living there.
He noted that Akeredolu had nothing against Fulani herdsmen who abide by the laws of the state.
Fayemi said: “Many members of MACBAN were born in the South-West. So, Akeredolu cannot ask Fulani to vacate Ondo State. The area concerned are the forest reserves and it is about registration and also to work in line with the law.
“What we are after is the criminals, not Fulani herdsmen, criminals are criminals, irrespective of their ethnic group.”
Fayemi noted that the statement generated a lot of controversies which eventually led to what he described as unfortunate development in Oyo State.
“The security and welfare of the people of Nigeria are the primary purpose of government as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
“Insecurity is a national challenge and not peculiar to any tribe or region, but must be addressed by the cooperation of all. The order of the Ondo State governor was misconstrued and misrepresented by a section of the media. He only ordered those occupying the forest reserves in Ondo State illegally to quit.
“Criminals should be apprehended and punished, no matter their origin, class or status. Security agencies have been trying to stem the tide of criminality in the country, but must step up their efforts in the fight.
“There is the need to build partnership for peace and security with MACBAN and jointly wage war against criminality. No one had sent anyone away from any state or region, but all hands must be on deck to fight crime.”
In his remarks, the National President of MACBAN, Muhammadu Kirowa, said his members are peaceful and democratic.
Represented by the National Secretary of the association, Baba Uthman Ngelzama, the Miyetti Allah leader sued for peace and stressed that dialogue is key to ensuring peaceful coexistence.
He noted that poor management of the relationship between herders and farmers led to clashes recently recorded in some parts of the country.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has said Nigerians owe the country’s security agencies “a debt of gratitude” for securing the country from terrorists.
This was just as government, the military and political leaders from the region have waded into the quit notice given to herders to leave the South West.
These were disclosed by the Minister for Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in company with his Interior Ministry counterpart, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, at a press conference,in Abuja, yesterday.
The government also reiterated that Nigeria’s security system has progressively improved on securing life and property of citizens since 2015, and that satellite and technology would soon be deployed to secure the country’s borders.
On the crises between herders and host communities in the South West, against the backdrop of what is happening in Oyo and Ondo states, Mohammed said: “There are challenges in the South West, but they are being taken care of. “Military and political leaders are on top of the situation. As we speak now, efforts are being made to contain this issue and other issues.
“I can tell you, today, that the armed forces, the police and other security and intelligence agencies are ramping up their efforts to enhance security of life and property across the country, and the results are beginning to show.
“The successes being recorded by the security and intelligence agencies in fighting insecurity did not come cheap. They have come as a result of the unrelenting efforts and sacrifices of the gallant officers and men of the military as well as other security and intelligence agencies that conduct operations across the country.
“Even though some of the troops paid the supreme price in the course of the operations, the security and intelligence forces have consistently exhibited gallantry and resilience in the various operations. We owe them a debt of gratitude,” Mohammed said.
Asked if Nigeria is safer than it was before the All Progressives Congress government assured power in 2015, the Information minister replied: “Yes, Nigeria is facing its security challenges, but it’s by far better than what we met.
“Prior to 2015, how many local governments in the entire North East could open their offices? How many of them could go to school?
“Today, we get used to good things and we forget the bad times. How many times did Boko Haram visit Abuja before 2015?”
Yoruba, Northern elders demand sack of service chiefs
Miffed by the spate of insecurity in the country, Yoruba elders, under the aegis of Coalition of Oduduwa Elders (COE) and Coalition of Northern Elders for Peace and Development (CNEPD), have demanded that immediate sack of the federal service chiefs.
While the COE raised the alarm that the country is sitting on a keg of gun power, which may likely explode if drastic measures are not taken, CNEPD said President Muhammdu Buhari should replace the service chiefs with energetic officers with vast knowledge of modern-day security issues to handle the development.
COE National Coordinator, Dr. Tunde Aremu, in a statement, yesterday, condemned the crisis that rocked the Yoruba and Hausa community in Oyo State and appealed to the Federal Government to address the problem before it escalates.
“As stakeholders in Yoruba land and the Nigerian project as a whole, we have watched with keen interest the unfolding events in the country, especially, as they relate to the South West region, and we wish to advise Mr president to urgently take steps that will restore public confidence in the nation.
“We say this with all sense of responsibility, as our investigations show that failure to take action on the part of Mr. President may well be an invitation to another civil war, the end of which we cannot predict.
“Our country is sitting on a time bomb, and if nothing is done urgently, we may face another civil unrest, as the citizens are tired of the actions and inactions of the president in the area of security of life and property. This has to change now before it is too late.
“We mince no words in saying that restructuring must begin with the sack of the country’s services chiefs and replacement with young and more competent officers,” he said.
Meanwhile, CNEPD National Coordinator, Engr Zana Goni, in a statement, added that the impasse that rocked Oyo State was as a result of the failure of security intelligence by service chiefs, claiming that if they were up and doing the impasse would have been averted.
He said: ”In continuation of our intervention in the burning of Sarkin Fulani’s house and other assets, we make bold to say that the evil act resulted from failure of intelligence and lack of pro-activeness on the part of our battle-weary service chiefs who, obviously, have lost touch with the realities of the time.
“…It is against this backdrop, therefore, that we renew our passionate call to our dear President, Muhammadu Buhari, to set aside whatever sentimental attachment there is to the service chiefs and assemble a fresh next level team of officers, as demanded by Nigerians.”
Northern elders to Buhari: Address problem of cattle herding once and for all
Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has appealed to President Muhammdu Buhari to address cattle herding which, it said, has continue to cause problem among different regions.
NEF Director, Publicity and Advocacy, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, in a statement, yesterday, said governors from the Southwest would meet with the Fulani community living in Oyo and Ondo States, to amicably resolve the lingering problem.
“The Forum is deeply concerned that the country is threatened by irresponsible actions and comments by people with responsibility to exercise caution and provide constructive leadership.
“The forum notes that governors in the South West are to meet with Fulani organisations tomorrow, (today) after the expiration of the quit order issued by governor of Ondo state to Fulani herders to leave the forest reserve.
“The meeting will take place in the context of rising fear among Fulani communities from threats and their experiences in the last few days. Persons who are known to be threatening Fulani communities and attacking them are still free.
“The forum hopes that the meeting will achieve the objective of assuring Fulani communities living lawfully in the South West that they will be protected and assure all other citizens in South West states that they will continue to receive protection of the state from kidnappings and other crimes.
“The forum is aware of the limitations of all state governors in terms of their capacities to adequately respond to security needs of populations. The resort to regional outfits like Amotekun and other self-appointed guardians of security of communities are not solutions to these limitations.
“Most important, the forum advises President Muhammadu Buhari to meet immediately with all state governors and heads of security and law and order agencies to examine how the current tensions in the country can be de-escalated.|”
Yoruba leaders’ve warned Buhari not to arrest me- Igboho
Meanwhile, Yoruba activist, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Igboho, who issued a seven-day eviction ultimatum to Fulani herders in Igangan, Ibarapa north local government area of Oyo state, which reportedly incited some of his supporters to destroy houses and cars, including those of Saliu Kadri, the Seriki Fulani of Igangan, has warned on the consequencies that would follow should he be arressted by the police.
Last Saturday, Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, directed the Oyo Commissioner of Police, Ngozi Onadeko, to arrest Igboho and transfer him to Abuja.
As of the time of filing this report, Igboho was yet to be arrested.
In a recent video shared by Femi Fani-Kayode, former minister of aviation, Igboho, while addressing a crowd, said Yoruba leaders were not pleased with the killing of their people by herdsmen.
He said: “We thank all our fathers, including the Aare Onakakanfo. They have all spoken up. Now that we are here, I beg you in the name of God, I don’t want us to disrespect any of our Yoruba leaders,” Igboho said in Yoruba.