One time factional National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Buba Galadima, has attacked the Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, over his recent eviction order to Fulani herdsmen from forest reserves in the state.
Galadima who spoke in an interview on AIT programme, Kakaaki on Wednesday in Abuja, said Akeredolu is ‘an educated illiterate’ who should not be making such statements which he described as inciting and inflammatory.
Galadima expressed his surprise at the order by a governor who is a lawyer and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), saying that Akeredolu should know that “there was no law that permits him to evict Fulani herders for any reason,” as any Nigerian can choose to live in any part of the country.
He added that the governor has shown his ignorance of the laws of Nigeria and that the said forest belongs to the Federal Government and not Ondo State.
“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,” Galadima said in the interview.
“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 reserves? 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.
“The 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.
“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 forests 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.
“There are Fulani herdsmen in every part of Nigeria. Some of them in South-West, South-East or South-South; some of them speak the 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.”