The National Chairman of a faction of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Engr. Buba Galadima has faulted the Ondo State governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu for issuing eviction order to Fulani herdsmen in Ondo forests.
The controversial politician spoke on AIT Kaakaki, a programme that discusses the State of the nation on Wednesday in Abuja.
Galadima wondered that the governor who is a lawyer and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) should know that there was no law that permits him to evict Fulani herders for any reason, arguing that anybody can choose to live anywhere in Nigeria.
He lampooned the governor, saying it was a show of ignorance for herders to be evicted, noting that the said forest belongs to the Federal government.
He said, “Governor Akeredolu of Ondo State who calls himself a SAN is an educated illiterate. He shouldn’t be giving such orders in the first place. All Nigerians are free to live in any part of Nigeria.
“It should be that any group of people living in any part of the country should be protected at all costs irrespective of their tribe, ethnicity or religion.
“So also, the Fulani or any other tribe, be it in Ondo, they are under the protection of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Who owns the forest reserves? Who gazetted the ownership of the forest reserve? It was gazetted by the then colonial masters. Once, it is gazetted, it is a Federal land and even if for instance, it is Ondo land, Nigerians are free to carry out businesses in any part of the country.
When asked what the Land Use Act 1976 says, he said, lands are vested in governors of various States to hold in trust for the people. And in Ondo, they are part of the people that the Act says the governor should hold the land in trust for.
“You see, there are certain things you do; you play the law; you play morality, and you play unity. On this issue, Ondo State governor is supposed to play unity and it’s wrong to declare a certain ethnic group ‘persona non-grata’ in a certain area of your State.
Engr. Galadima challenged Akeredolu to engage him in media discussion on his reasons behind the eviction order he served on Fulani herders in Ondo forests.
According to him, the governor has displayed lack of leadership acumen, noting that: “We now know why there was so much acrimony even from the people in Ondo, when Akeredolu was running for a second term in office.
“He has manifested himself so well that he is not a leader.”
He suggested that if the people living in Ondo forest are security threat, they should be raided and neutralized rather than being evicted.
“If what he meant was to have the Fulanis registered for easy identification which he later claimed, how would they be registered in their own country? I am not a Fulani and I am not talking for them. This kind of things should not happen.
“Of course, it is legitimate for government to try to identify the actual people who are carrying out heinous crimes, particularly in the obvious infiltration of foreigners, but not to evict.
“There is a difference between identification and eviction. What I said is that it is not right to evict anybody.
Making reference to the advice of Kano State Governor, Umar Abdullahi Ganduje that herdsmen should stop migrating from one place to the other as a way of solving the menace of crisis, he said: “I don’t know how old Ganjude is, but looking at his face, I know, he is in his 70s, he should know that Fulanis are found in any part of Nigeria in the last 300 years.
“Some of them in South West, South East or South-South speak their indigenous languages more than their own dialects.
“They have adopted the culture of the people. What they have left of their culture is the rearing of cattle and I want Nigerians to understand that there is a difference between bandits who kill, who abduct and kill innocent persons and Fulani cattle herders.
“In all these, we haven’t seen any Fulani herder who keeps cattle on a farm and ensure the farmer is killed,” he maintained.