“Disregard Akeredolu’s directive” – Northern elders tell Fulani herdsmen

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The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has directed Fulani herdsmen in Ondo state not to heed Governor Rotimi Akeredolu’s seven-day ultimatum to vacate the state’s forest reserves.

Director of Publicity and Advocacy of the forum, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed stated this in a Wednesday statement.

Akeredolu who said that the herdsmen’s activities in the forests were a threat to the security of the state, issued the ultimatum on Monday while meeting with leaders of Hausa/Fulani and Ebira Communities in the state.

Meanwhile, the state’s Commissioner for Agricultural and Rural Development, Adegboyega Adefarati, said in a statement on Wednesday that the Fulani herdsmen must be duly registered to be permitted to graze their cattle in the state’s forest reserves.

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Reacting to Akeredolu’s vacation order, the Northern elders described it as “provocative and unhelpful” as well as “unconstitutional”.

“Northern Elders Forum is shocked at reports that Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, is asking a Fulani community to leave its lawful location, in addition to other restrictions on activities of Fulani people who have lived in the State for a long period.

“Governor Akeredolu is a senior lawyer who should know that the constitution does not give him the power to deny any Nigerian the right to live where he chooses if he does not break the law in the process. His duty to protect and improve the security of citizens and all people in Ondo State cannot be challenged.

“No Nigerian has the power to take punitive action against citizens on political grounds. The forum believes that the action of the governor is provocative and unhelpful.

“If there are criminal elements among the Fulani who live in the state, the governor should take appropriate steps to identify them and deal with them. Similarly, the Fulani do not enjoy legal immunity in any part of Nigeria.

“The Fulani are subject to all laws and regulations and must respect the communities with which they live and interact. What is dangerous and unacceptable is to profile and demonize the Fulani and treat him outside the laws of the land like all other Nigerians.

“The Fulani community in Ondo state should stay put where they are and continue to be law-abiding.

“We call on Governor Akeredolu to rescind his order on the Fulani, or clarify his position in the event that he is misunderstood. For the avoidance of doubt, no Fulani anywhere in Nigeria will accept unfair and illegal treatment just for being Fulani,” the Northern elders said.

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