The Ondo State Government on Monday said it had started registering herdsmen in the state with the aim of ejecting unregistered herders from the state’s forest reserves.

The Special Adviser to state Governor on Security, Alhaji Jimoh Dojumo, disclosed this in an interview with one of our correspondents in Akure where the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria and the Nigeria Governors Forum met.

It was gathered that herdsmen had started leaving the Ondo State’s forest reserves in deference to the state government’s order, which was backed by governors’ forum and the Miyetti Allah at their meeting on Monday.

The NGF and the cattle breeders’ meeting was on a seven-day ultimatum, which the state Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), on Monday last week issued herdsmen to vacate the state’s forest reserves.

Dojumo, in the interview with The PUNCH, said his office, in conjunction with the state Ministry of Agriculture and the office of Amotekun Corps, was handling the registration of the herdsmen.

He said, “The registration has commenced already. It has started today. My office, in conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Amotekun office, is handling it.”

Dojumo, who confirmed that the herdsmen were already obeying the governor’s order, said the government would be waiting for more herdsmen to register.

At the meeting with the NGF,  the cattle breeders supported the order made by Akeredolu,  asking the herdsmen to vacate all the forest reserves.

The NGF and the cattle breeders agreed that illegal occupants of the forest reserves should be flushed out irrespective of their ethnic backgrounds while anybody that wanted to operate legally in the forest reserves should register with the state government.

Some of the members of the NGF that attended the meeting included Akeredolu of Ondo State, his Osun State Governor,  Gboyega Oyetola;  Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi;   Mohammed Badaru (Jigawa State);  Seyi Makinde (Oyo)  and Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State.

In the communiqué issued at the end of the meeting, the four-point directive of Akeredolu was adopted by all the stakeholders. The communiqué was read by the Chairman of the NGF,  Fayemi.

The communiqué read, “The security and welfare of the people of Nigeria are the primary purposes of government as enshrined in the 1999 constitution of Nigeria as amended.

“The stakeholders are committed to the unity and indivisibility of Nigeria. Insecurity is a national challenge and not peculiar to any tribe or region but must be addressed by the cooperation of all.

“The order of the Ondo State Governor was misconstrued and misrepresented by a section of the media. He only ordered those occupying the forest reserves in Ondo State illegally to quit.

“The criminals should be apprehended and punished, no matter their origin, class or status. Security agencies have been trying to stem the tide of criminality in the country, but must step up their efforts in the fight. There is the need to build partnership for peace and security with MACBAN and jointly wage war against criminality.

“No one had sent anyone away from any state or region but all hands must be on deck to fight criminality. The MACBAN is a peace-loving, law-abiding organisation, which does not harbour or condone criminals and agreed that: Night grazing should be banned henceforth. Underage herding is inimical to security and hence be banned. Occupation of state forest reserves illegally is condemned.

“The MACBAN also suffers insecurity and kidnapping and thus desire peaceful coexistence. MACBAN is ready for any peaceful move by the states to engender security. Fake news is another issue that makes our security worse than solving it. There must be an enduring framework with MACBAN in a way that will help address security issues.”

The meeting also agreed that free range grazing must be stopped to avoid conflicts between the farmers and the herders.

Killer herdsmen: NGF urges states to set up  farmers, herders’ committees

The communiqué also read, “Standing committee comprising farmers, MACBAN and the government should be set up in each state (where they don’t exist) to ensure synergy and result. We must create economic opportunities for our people and reduce opportunities for criminalities in our country. “

In his welcome remarks,  Fayemi said the meeting was called at the instance of the governors’ forum to resolve the issue of insecurity in the South-West.

He explained that the order pronounced by Akeredolu was misconstrued by the media,  particularly,  the social media. He noted that Akeredolu had not ordered the Fulani to leave Ondo State,  saying the South- West was accommodating and nobody could ask the Fulani,  who had been staying very long time in the region,  to leave.

Fayemi said, “Many members of MACBAN were born in the South-West. So Akeredolu cannot ask the  Fulani to vacate Ondo State. The areas concerned are the forest reserves and it is about registration and also to work in line with the law. What we are after is the criminals, not Fulani herdsmen, criminals are criminals irrespective of their ethnic group:

Akeredolu, in his remarks, said he had never said the Fulani should leave the state,  stating that in the meeting he had with the members of the Fulani and Ebira Communities,  everything he stated the menace of criminals in the state.