~ By Wale Akingbade
On Monday, 18th January, 2021 there was an executive order by the Governor of Ondo state, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, which ordered unregistered herdsmen to vacate all forest reserves in the state within seven days.
The order further banned the movement of cattle rustling within cities and highways, as well as night grazing.
The executive order further read, “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.
“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.
Furthermore, Governor Akeredolu apted that “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.”
Without any much ado, the Governor’s directive was primarily informed by the rising spate of killings, kidnappings and wanton destruction of economic livelihood of residents of the state, which have largely been blamed on herdsmen.
However, in less than 24 hours after the Governor’s directive, a Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media, Garba Shehu, couldn’t resist the heat of the executive order as he released a press statement to counter the order of which well meaning Nigerians have condemned & described as tribal sentiment bereft of facts & logics aimed at sabotaging the legitimate & collective efforts effort to tackle the problem of insecurity not only in Ondo state but in Nigeria as whole.
The statement reads “The Presidency on Tuesday night admitted that Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN fights crime with passion. All the same, the seat of power calls for restraint even as it said there must be a clear line of demarcation between criminals and law abiding citizens who do legitimate business”
He stated further that “in our view, it 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 President’s aide added that “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” said Garba Shehu.
Responding to the above statement, lawmaker representing Ose/Owo Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives, Abuja, and a chieftain of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Hon. Timehin Adelegbe said it was regrettable that Garba Sehu didn’t consult well before issuing a statement on actions taken by an elder statesman, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, a bureaucrat, technocrat & a seasoned politician.
While throwing his weight behind the Governor for taking such bold decision to fight against criminalities and other nefarious activities in the state, Adelegbe applauded Governor Akeredolu, a seasoned lawyer, Senior Advocate of Nigeria and a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, for his committment, passion, doggedness and resilience in his belief in the fight against crime ever since he came into power.
The federal legislator apted on the fact that the primary constitutional duties of a Governor of a state is to safeguard the lives and properties besides the welfare of his people of which Arakunrin Oluwarotimi, SAN, never failed in that regard.
Adelegbe further commended the Governor having exhibited and demonstrated uncommon leadership skills noting that he has proven beyond doubt and on the preponderance of evidences that leadership is a serious business.
Without any iota of doubt, Akeredolu has clearly defined that leadership is riddled in all the distraction, crisis and conflict and as well leave a legacy for the people whom have been held in trust and oathed to serve.