The Pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, has accused the Nigerian government of being bias towards Fulani people and against other ethnic nationalities in the country, following the Presidency’s reaction to the seven-day ultimatum the Ondo State government recently gave to Fulani herdsmen to leave its forest reserves.
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State had on Monday ordered Fulani herdsmen to vacate all forest reserves in the state within seven days.
Akeredolu also banned the movement of cattle within cities and highways, as well as night grazing, saying the directive was informed by the killings and kidnappings being perpetrated in the state by people masquerading as herdsmen and hiding in the forest reserves.
But the presidency on Tuesday condemned the seven-day ultimatum given to herdsmen by Akeredolu to vacate forest reserves, urging the governor ‘not to act outside the constitution of the country’.
A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari, Garba Shehu, said in part, “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.”
However, Afenifere on Wednesday lambasted the Presidency for the position it took in the matter.
A statement titled ‘Ondo Forests: Fulani Presidency Again’, by its National Publicity Secretary, Yinka Odumakin, said the Presidency’s position only confirmed that the Muhammadu Buhari regime only represents Fulani interests against those of other ethnic nationalities in the country.
The statement read: “The intervention by what we mistakenly call the Federal Government of Nigeria on behalf of marauding Fulani in Ondo state against the lawful government in that state did not come to Afenifere as a surprise as it is in line with non-pretence by this regime that it represents only Fulani interests against those of Yoruba, Igbo, Junkun, Ijaw and other tribes in Nigeria.
“That the Federal Government and its minion, Garba Shehu, could only hear Ondo State when Governor Akeredolu was very loud and clear about herders to vacate forest reserves in the state is symptomatic that this government has a serious problem with heating the rest of us when the issue involves its anointed Fulani.
“The Fulani criminals have caused untold hardship in Ondo State and other Yoruba towns and cities in recent time and only an irresponsible government that wants to behave like our Federal Government that cares will continue to fold its arms.
“Are Ondo Forest Reserves under Ondo State Government or the Federal Government and Miyetti Allah? We agree with the Ondo State Government that the insensibility of Garba Shehu violates the corporate existence of Nigeria.
“What has this government done to assure our people that it can protect our lives with the open murders of Mrs Funke Olakunri, Olufon of Ifon and the Deputy Registrar of FUTA (Federal University of Technology, Akure), among many others? The lives of our people and other non-Fulani communities are daily being taken by local and foreign Fulani bandits without any sign that these lives matter to the government with its desire to shield the Fulani from the laws.
“Nobody would ever have believed that it would get to this irresponsible stage that the Federal Government will one day come to this barbaric level Garba Shehu has taken it and the peak of their direct salvos against Amotekun since it started. All true- born Yoruba should stand behind Governor Akeredolu in these trying times. He must do all within the law to flush Ondo forests of all criminals. Other governors should emulate their chair and free our land from the Fulani who have surrounded us with the shield of the Federal Government.
“Let them declare open war on behalf of the Fulani and our ancestors will all wake up in their graves.”