Nigeria: Ondo State Replies Presidency, Says Buhari Administration 'Emotionally Attached to Herdsmen'

20 January 2021

"Mr Shehu's statement is a brazen display of emotional attachments and it is very inimical to the corporate existence of Nigeria."

The Ondo State government has criticised the Buhari administration's response to its decision to order herdsmen out of the state's forest reserves.

Donald Ojogo, the commissioner for information and orientation, on Tuesday, said the response by presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, "reeks of emotional attachment to the herdsmen".

"Mr Shehu's statement is a brazen display of emotional attachments and it's very inimical to the corporate existence of Nigeria," the Punch Newspaper quoted Mr Ojogo as saying.

"We need clearly defined actions on the part of the federal government to decimate the erroneous impression that the inspiration of these criminal elements masquerading as herdsmen is that of power. Our unity is threatened, no doubt."

Governor Rotimi Akeredolu on Monday gave herders in the state seven days to vacate all forest reserves in Ondo State.

In his response, Mr Shehu, the president's senior special assistant on media and publicity, said the Ondo government should rather dialogue with the leadership of the Fulani communities in the state.

"It (statement) states in a breath that the governor fights crime with passion while it is prevaricating on the atrocities," Mr Ojogo said.

"The question is, are the herdsmen who are perpetrating murder, kidnapping and robbery more important than government and even the Federal Government in this case? Ethnic nationality and activism on the part of anyone hiding under the presidency or federal government is an ill wind."

When contacted by PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday, Mr Ojogo confirmed he made the comments.

He said: "there's no going back on the directive. I did (do)not denounce or deny the statement I made."

He said "the only reason why the herdsmen would not vacate the forests is if they are above the law".

In recent months, this newspaper has reported various killings, rape and kidnappings for ransom which have become the order of the day across the nation.

The spate of insecurity ravaging all parts of the country has defied all solutions including attempts by regional leaders to set up security outfits to aid the police curb crime and violence.

President Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani, has, in the past, been quoted to have said suspected criminals, irrespective of their ethnic origin, would be prosecuted under the ambits of the law.

His supporters have equally said Mr Buhari should not be criticised for the actions of some criminal minded Fulani herders, noting that not every herder is a Fulani and many Fulani are law-abiding.

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