A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana, has backed Ondo Governor Rotimi Akeredolu on the seven-day ultimatum given to Fulani herdsmen to leave the state forest reserves.
Describing the order as legal, Falana said it was in conformity with Section 42 (1) (e) and (g) of the Forestry Law of Ondo State.
The law provides that whoever in any forest reserve, except with authority in writing of the prescribed officer, digs, cuts, turns or cultivates the soil or makes a farm or plantation; pastures cattle or permits cattle to trespass or trespasses in any part of forest reserves in which trespass shall be prohibited by an order of the governor, Persecondnews quotes Falana as saying.
He lambasted the Presidency for not studying the law properly before issuing a statement last week to condemn Akeredeolu.
Falana said: “Without addressing the relevant provisions of the Forestry Law or reaching out to Governor Akeredolu, the Presidency rushed to the media to challenge the directive of the Ondo State Government as it might affect undocumented herders operating in the said forests.
“Regrettably, such official mismanagement of the crisis has been allowed to polarise the people along ethnic lines to the detriment of national security.”
The Lagos lawyer, however, appealed to Akeredolu to extend the deadline given to the herdsmen while also calling on the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria to register with the state government.
“Concerning the brewing crisis in Ondo State, we call on Governor Akeredolu (SAN), to extend the seven-day ultimatum to allow all farmers and herders operating in the forest reserve to register with the state government without any delay.
“The Miyetti Allah and similar groups should ensure that all their members who have not registered with the state government do so without any further delay in the overall interest of the security of the people in the state,” he said.
On the worsening security situation in the country, Falana advised President Muhammadu Buhari to summon a meeting of the Nigeria Police Council.
“As a matter of urgency, the Federal Government should mobilise adequate police and other security forces to halt the menace of kidnapping, banditry, terrorism, armed robbery and other violent crimes in the land.”