Ondo forest: Buhari will be held squarely responsible if… ― Southern, Middle-Belt leaders

• Demands withdraw of open support for Miyetti Allah

Southern and Middle-Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) has called on the Federal Government to withdraw its overt support for Miyetti Allah to violate the lawful order of Ondo State government banning grazing in its forest reserves, warning that should there be any breakdown of law and order in any part of the country over such, President Muhammadu Buhari would be held squarely responsible.

SMBLF gave this warning, on Thursday, in a joint statement issued by Mr Yinka Odumakin for the South-West, Chief Guy Ikokwu (South-East), Senator Bassey Henshaw (South-South) and Dr Isuwa Dogo (Middle-Belt), describing such open support as a dangerous game, while urging the Federal Government to allow Ondo government to enforce the law.

The group of leaders said this in their reaction to the presidency’s statement by Malam Garba Shehu that the Ondo State Governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), lacked the full powers to decide on the state’s forest reserves in spite of the Land Use Act that vests lands in states in the governors.

SMBLF frowned at the statement by Shehu, describing it as a complete overreach and clear abuse of the constitution in a bid to elevate Fulani herders above the law.

According to the group, the country is supposed to be the Federal Republic and forest reserves in states are fully residual matter to which the Federal Government has no business with.

“The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) is compelled to warn the Federal Government on the dangerous game it is playing over its overt support for Miyetti Allah to violate the lawful order of Ondo State Government banning grazing in its forest reserves.

“Should there be any breakdown of law and order in any part of the country over this encouragement of Miyetti Allah against law and order, President Buhari will be held squarely responsible,” SMBLF warned.

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“We are supposed to be the Federal Republic and Forest Reserves in states are fully residual matter to which the Federal Government has no business with.

“The FG statement by Garba Shehu that the governor of Ondo lacks the full powers to decide on its reserves in spite of the Land Use Act that vests lands in states in the governors was a complete overreach and clear abuse of the constitution in a bid to elevate Fulani herders above the law,” the Forum said.

The group, while decrying the support by the Federal Government, noted that it was a continuation of the obsessive attachment to Miyetti Allah by the President Buhari-led government, recalling the counsel the president gave to the Benue State governor, Mr Ortom, asking him to go and live peaceably with the “killers after Miyetti Allah killed 78 citizens of the state in January 2019.”

SMBLF argued that to prevent Ondo from holding its rights on its reserves in the face of persistent killings of its people by herders occupying the reserves illegally, no decent or responsible governor would allow what the Federal Government wanted for Fulani herdsmen.

“It is a continuation of the obsessive attachment to Miyetti Allah like the President instructing Governor Ortom to go and live peaceably with killers after Miyetti Allah killed 78 citizens of the state in January 2019, to prevent Ondo from holding its rights on its reserves in the face of persistent killings of its people by herders occupying the reserves illegally.

“No decent or responsible governor would allow what the FG wants for Fulani herdsmen.

“SMBLF, therefore, asks the FG to withdraw the unjust diktat and allow Ondo to enforce the law,” it said.

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

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