The Ondo State Government has soft pedaled over its ultimatum to herdsmen to vacate its forest reserves within seven days.
The Special Adviser to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu on Security Matters, Alhaji Jimoh Dojumo, advised those operating within the forest legally to register with the state government.
He told Vanguard that “those perpetrating the heinous act are using the forest to cover their crimes,” and that there is need to flush out the criminals from the forest reserves.
He declined details of how the government would enforce the directive, saying: “this is a security matter and it is not for public consumption but I want to advise those operating within the forest legally to register with the state government.
“Let them disobey and we know how to carry it out, it is not when we start speaking on the pages of newspapers before we know what to do and we are not even out for confrontation.
“The truth is that if they still want to remain in the forest, let them come and register, we want to know the people occupying our forest.
“If people want to live in your house, you should know them and identify them, so we want to know those occupying our forest and no illegal occupants.
“lf they are ready to cooperate, no problem, so the order is that they should quit the forest or register with the state government and whoever wants to farm or do any other business within the forest, there must be a means of identification and we must know their origin.”
Meanwhile, Governor Akeredolu has ordered the clearing of bushes on the highways across the 18 local government areas of the state in order to allow a proper view of the highway.
The state Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mrs. Lola Fagbemi, who disclosed this said the bushes would be cleared some 30 – 40 metres away from both sides of the roads.
“The bush will be cleared about 30-40 metres away from the road. This will give a proper view while on the highway and we are commencing work from tomorrow.”
The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria had said that the agreement it had with the Ondo State Government was to stop night grazing and use of underage boys for grazing cows, adding that it was not true that herders had been asked to vacate forest reserves in the state.
The Miyetti Allah National Secretary, Baba Usman, had stated that the meeting the cattle breeders had with the state government did not include the vacation of forest reserves in the state.
Governor Akeredolu had yesterday, January 18, 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.
Akeredolu’s directive was informed by the killings and kidnappings happening in the state, which have largely been blamed on Fulani herdsmen.