By Bisi Olominu, Jimoh Ahmed, Tola Gbadamosi, & Adekola Afolabi
In one voice, prominent Yoruba and Hausa leaders have backed Ondo state Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu’s directive to herders to vacate all Forest Reserves in the State within seven days .
The leaders who stated this in separate interviews with The Hope said the governor’s action was the right step in the right direction, saying this will put an end to the unwarranted killings and kidnappings in the state.
Apparently disturbed by incessant kidnappings, killings, armed robberies, banditry and other criminal activities in the state in the recent time, the Governor at an interactive meeting with Fulani, Hausa and Ebira leaders in Akure, equally banned underaged night grazing, movement of cattle within towns, cities and highways across the state.
Governor Akeredolu disclosed that the step was to address kidnapping, in particular, and other nefarious activities.
“These unfortunate incidents are traceable to the activities of some bad elements masquerading as herdsmen. They have turned our forest reserves into hideouts for keeping victims of kidnapping, negotiating for ransom and carrying out other criminal activities.
“Our administration will not fold its arms while a few individuals turned our dear State into a haven of dare-devil criminals.
“As the Chief Law and Security Officer of the State, it is my constitutional obligation to do everything lawful to protect the lives and property of all residents.
The Publicity Secretary of Pan Yoruba Socio Cultural Group, Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin in his reaction to the development commended Governor Akeredolu for reading the riot act to the herdsmen.
”Every right thinking Yoruba man and woman should support this action and back the government. We are now in a full scale war in the country and everything must be done to protect Yorubas from being annihilated.
”Other governors in the Southwest should toe the same line of action to save the Yoruba race that some people want to conquer at all cost.
The Chairman of Miyetti Allah in the state, Garba Bello, said the association would not be party to any criminal activities in the state, and would not hesitate to expose criminal elements among them.
He explained that the directive of Governor Akeredolu was in line with the directive of the National President of Miyetti Allah directing them to stop night and underaged grazing as well as movement of cattle within towns, cities and highways across the country.
He said the leadership of Miyetti Allah in the state would continue to support all efforts by the Governor to strengthen the security architecture in any part of the state, just as he pledged to cooperate with government to nip crime in the bud.
Director, Teaching and Research Farm, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, AAUA, Dr Jibayo Oyebade described the Governor’s quit order as in order, stressing that not all herds belong to Fulani and advised that herd owners should register with government.
He advised that the Governor should allow a transit grazing reserve at Akunnu Cattle Ranch for two weeks to allow smooth movement out of the state, adding that any herd in the reserve should be seized.
On the mode of enforcement, the agricultural expert said committees comprising of Amotekun local vigilantes, local hunters should be set up per senatorial district reserve.
Olowo of Owo, Oba Ajibade Gbadegesin Ogunoye said the governor could not sit down and fold his arms while the citizens were being kidnapped.
According to the monarch, the security of lives and property of the people are important to government and therefore all efforts in this regard must be supported by all.
Oba Ogunoye therefore called on all traditional rulers in the state to rally support for the governor in his bid to rid the state of criminals and make the place safe for the people.
Mr Femi Oloketuyi, the Chairman Police Community Relations Committee, PCRC, Ikare Akoko, noted that the killing of a first class monarch, Oba Isreal Adeusi, the Olufon of Ifon in Ose local government, the recent killing of a pastor’s driver between Ise-Akoko and Isua, the killing of the Deputy Registrar FUTA, Akure, kidnapping of the wife of the Chief of Staff to Ondo State Governor, Mrs Ale, the Oluyani of Iyani Akoko and his second in command and that of the Olori of Alauga, Oba Samuel Agunloye to mention a few, were known to be wickedly executed by bandits suspected to be Fulani herdsmen.
He declared the action of the governor as the best thing to happen if kidnapping and farmers/herdsmen clash must be controlled.
A retired senior police officer from Oba Akoko, Mr Olu Ojomo called on governments at all levels to prioritize security matters and not to play politics with security.
A business man, Alhaji Kareem Olowosaudi while commending the governor on the pronouncement advised government to issue an executive order.
Olowosaudi who observed that most rich indigenes of the state who rear cattle are employers of Fulani men, urged the Governor not to spare anybody no matter how highly placed, in the execution of the orders.
The State Chairman, Ebira Community, Alhaji Amoju Ovoro promised to work with government to protect lives and property of the people of the state.