Rotimi Akeredolu, the state governor of Ondo State has ordered herdsmen to vacate forests in the state.
Mr Akeredolu who reportedly gave the directive today in a statement said he was doing so to checkmate rising insecurity in the state which have been traced to herdsmen residing in bushes.
“We have taken major steps at addressing the root cause of kidnapping, in particular, and other nefarious activities detailed and documented in security reports, the press and debriefings from victims of kidnap cases in Ondo State,” the governor said.
“These unfortunate incidents are traceable to the activities of some bad elements masquerading as herdsmen. These felons have turned our forest reserves into hideouts for keeping victims of kidnapping, negotiating for ransoms and carrying out other criminal activities.
“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 of the state. In light of the foregoing, the following orders are hereby issued:
“All Forest Reserves in the state are to be vacated by herdsmen within the next seven days with effect from today, Monday 18th, January, 2021. Night grazing is banned with immediate effect because most farm destruction takes place at night.
“Movement of cattle within cities and highways is prohibited. Underage grazing of cattle is outlawed.
“In its usual magnanimity, our administration will give a grace period of seven days for those who wish to carry on with their cattle-rearing business to register with appropriate authorities. Our resolution to guarantee safety of lives and property within the state shall remain utmost as security agencies have been directed to enforce the ban,” he added.
But herdsmen under the umbrella of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) says the report is not true.
“I just spoke with my Ondo branch chairman. The governor of Ondo State emphasised on stopping night grazing and not allowing minors to graze cows. These were small boys and that was the agreement we had with the governor during our last visit to Ondo State sometime last year,” MACBAN National Secretary, Baba Usman, told Sahara Reporters while reacting.
“We jointly agreed to stop allowing minors to graze cows. And we jointly stopped night grazing. But that was what was emphasised by the governor. So, it is not true that any Fulani man was asked to leave Ondo State.
“Nothing like forest reserves; the chairman told me that the governor asked them to stop grazing around towns and schools; they should go to the forests and graze. They should not allow small boys to graze because that is what is causing problems. So, it is not true that he asked Fulani men to leave Ondo State. It is not true,” Usman added.
This development comes barely a month after the outlawed Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB) ordered herdsmen out of all forests in the South-East region.
Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the secessionist group, however, urged herders to move into the residential areas and rent apartments like other Nigerians.