By Clifford Ejenavi
Afenifere Group in the United Kingdom (UK) and Europe has backed the order of the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu evicting herdsmen from the state’s forest reserves, while cautioning the Nigerian presidency against instigating another civil war in the country.
Speaking with Bustanews today, the Secretary of the Group, Engr. Anthony Ajayi said enough of herdsmen invasion of Yorubaland, saying that Yoruba people can no longer continue to live in perpetual fear of these herdsmen in their own land.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu had reacted to Governor Akeredolu who ordered herdsmen to vacate the state’s forest reserves, saying the Governor lacked the power to unilaterally sack herdsmen from Ondo forests.
Garba Shehu comment according to Engr. Ajayi was a dangerous one capable of instigating a civil war in Nigeria. He cautioned the presidency to be mindful of their ulterances when it comes to matters of security in Yorubaland.
“Why does the presidency want us to fold our hands, open our doors, backyard and allow bandits, criminals, kidnappers living on our land in our forest killing us, raping our mothers, daughter and wives？ Is there any motive behind this? Or are we no longer part of Nigeria?”, Engr. Ajayi questioned.
He stated further that the UK/Europe Group position is not different from the national leaders of Afenifere in Nigeria on this issue.
According to him, the National Organising Secretary of Afenifere, Kole Omololu, has said, “What we should know is that it is a Forest Reserve. A place not meant for human habitation. We have wood and other things there for the benefit of the citizens. It can only be entered by authorised personnel.
“The governor of Ondo State is in order. What he has done is in the best interest of Nigeria. It is embarrassing for the presidency to be seen to be protecting criminals, wherever they are from. It is out of place. It is not helping the image and security of our country.
“The presidency is supposed to give a backing to the Ondo government by supporting that all unauthorised people should leave. Presidency opposing Akeredolu is very dangerous, extremely dangerous for peace.
“Are they saying they (presidency) will be bringing Army and police to take over Ondo? The presidency needs to be very careful. It should not start what it cannot finish. There can’t be civil war again in this country. Don’t believe somebody will get up and fight for the government.
“Nobody should harass legitimate herdsmen but those taking over our lands forcefully should be sent out. It is so sad that the presidency cannot trust our government. It is so sad. The presidency is supposed to be the father of the nation, not protecting one ethnic group against the other. This is a dangerous phenomenon in the history of Nigeria.”
It would be recalled that apart from ejecting the herdsmen, Akeredolu also banned under-aged grazing, night grazing, movement of cattle within the cities and highways. He also gave the herdsmen seven days ultimatum to comply with the order.
Engr. Ajayi therefore said the Group is appealing to all Yoruba leaders, sons and daughters to unite together for the protection of Yorubaland.