The presidency has warned state governors in the country to stop linking herdsmen to rising insecurity bedeviling the nation.
This is contained in its reaction against the seven days ultimatum to herdsmen residing in Ondo forests by the state government led by Rotimi Akeredolu.
Mr Akeredolu while issuing the directive on Monday said several security reports in the state linked most of the criminal activities therein to herdsmen residing in bushes.
“These unfortunate incidents are traceable to the activities of some bad elements masquerading as herdsmen,” the governor said.
“These felons have turned our forest reserves into hideouts for keeping victims of kidnapping, negotiating for ransoms and carrying out other criminal activities,” he added.
But in statement late Tuesday, the presidency said while it least expected the Chief Security Officer of the state to issue the ultimatum, the governor has no constitutional right to sack the herders residing in bushes account of some bad elements within its fold.
It warned Mr Akeredolu and other state governors to desist from linking herdsmen who are mostly from the Fulani extraction to rising insecurity.
“Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, a seasoned lawyer, Senior Advocate of Nigeria and indeed, a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, has fought crime in his state with passion and commitment, greater sensitivity and compassion for the four years he has run its affairs and, in our view, 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,” the statement by Garba Shehu partly read.
“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 government of Ondo, and all the 35 others across the federation must draw clear lines between the criminals and the law abiding citizens who must equally be saved from the infiltrators. Beyond law and order, the fight against crime is also a fight for human values which are fundamental to our country,” the presidential spokesman added.