Middle Belt Forum (MBF), has declared support for move by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu to rid Ondo State forests reserves of criminal herders and bandits who indulge in killing and kidnapping innocent people.
In a statement signed by the National President of MBF, Dr. Pogu Bitrus, in Abuja, Sunday, the forum said: “As the umbrella organisation representing ethnic nationalities in the Middle Belt region, we are in total support of ridding Ondo State of bandits and criminal elements as contained in the ultimatum handed down on criminal herders by the governor.
“We call on the Federal Government and other state governors to work in partnership and end the terror perpetrated by these bandits whose occupation of the country’s forest reserves have become present and future dangers to Nigeria as a nation.”
The group said the storm of reactions over the quit notice issued by Akeredolu to criminal herders to either vacate the state forest reserves or face the full wrath of the law was amazing.
“We are also worried at the turn of events in the South-west and the order issued by the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, for arrest of Mr. Sunday Adeyemo (a.k.a Igboho) over his alleged role in the violence that took place at the weekend in Oyo State.
“While we welcome the bold decision by the governor to protect life and property of citizens threatened by activities of bandits that have now found safe havens in forests, we are completely opposed to any action by the Federal Government to escalate the ongoing tension as demonstrated by the arrest order on Igboho. ”
MBF observed that, as the chief security officer of Ondo State, Akeredolu is rightly entitled to protect citizens that are now under constant siege by criminal elements.
“For those who insist that the quit order on criminal herders amounts to infringing the citizenship rights of Fulani, we reiterate that Akeredolu’s quit order is to unregistered criminal herders occupying the forests and involved in kidnappings and banditry.
“We state that it is unacceptable for the Federal Government to interfere in the genuine efforts deployed by Akeredolu to end the ceaseless abductions of peaceful citizens for ransom.
“What the Federal Government should do now is assist Akeredolu and other state governors to flush out these criminals and end the culture of lawlessness ripping across not only Ondo, but other states where these outlaws have turned our nation’s forest reserves into safe harbours for their crimes.”
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