By Daniel Kanu
Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu on Monday January 18, wielded the big stick as he ordered Fulani herdsmen to vacate Ondo forests within seven days following growing insecurity.
Akeredolu gave the ultimatum while meeting with leaders of Hausa/Fulani and Ebira communities in the state.
His reason was simple: The activities of the herdsmen are alleged to have long been causing a threat to security in the state.
Sharing his view on his official Twitter handle, Akeredolu noted that the bold step was taken towards addressing the root cause of kidnapping in particular, and other nefarious activities detailed and documented in security reports, the press and debriefings from victims of kidnapping in Ondo State.
According to him, the unfortunate gory incidents were traceable to the activities of some bad elements masquerading as herdsmen.
“These felons have turned our forest reserves into hideouts for keeping victims of kidnapping, negotiating for ransom, and carrying out other criminal activities. As the Chief Law and Security Officer of the state, it is my constitutional obligation to do everything lawful to protect the lives and property of all residents of the state,” he vowed.
There have been cases of several attacks by unscrupulous elements in Ondo State of late. Recall that Elder statesman and one-time presidential candidate, Chief Olu Falae almost lost his life when he was kidnapped by herders he identified as belonging to the Fulani stock.
Only recently there was the gruesome murder of one of the members of the Ondo State Traditional Council who was caught in the web of the devious plans of these workers of evil on his way back to his domain. The reports of attacks in the state are endless.
Expectedly the action of the governor has elicited responses from the presidency and its sundry reputation managers.
The presidency had in a statement by Mallam Garba Shehu (President Buhari’s media aide) expressed concern that Akeredolu, as a legal luminary should have known better and could not have unilaterally issued the quit order without taking cognizance of the constitution that guarantees the rights of citizens to movement and to live in any part of the country.
Aso Rock noted further that the governor ought not to have taken the unilateral step without consulting widely, while urging the government of Ondo State and all the 35 others nationwide to draw clear lines between criminals and law-abiding citizens, who must equally be saved from the infiltrators.
Ironically, the constitution which Akeredolu swore to ‘‘preserve, protect, and defend’’ to the best of his ability’ demands that as “the Chief Security Officer”, the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of his government.
But the reality on the ground in the case of Nigeria is that such a title is on paper because all issues of policing must emanate from the Inspector General of Police (IGP) who resides in Abuja. Here governors have no real power to control the security of their states unless the one allowed from the centre.
The truth is that the case of Ondo State in the entire states of the Southwest has become so horrible that marauders lay siege to the highways with effrontery, as well as in the farmlands waiting to kidnap, devour, rape, or even kill anyone in sight.
Surely, no responsible government worthy to be so called will allow the nightmare that is going on in Ondo to continue.
No one can deny that the federal controlled security forces have been overwhelmed by the enormity of criminality in the country, the reason regions seem to be resorting to self-help by creating their own security networks, for instance, as we have today in Amotekun, Southwest security network.
Public affairs analysts are of the view that if any institution needs massive moral enhancement at this time, it is the Nigeria Police, which is still devastated in all departments, from the aftermath of #EndSARS protest countrywide.
To make this happen, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, must acknowledge that the current force is depleted, ill-structured, ill-equipped and ill-motivated to counter criminal activities. While it is true that banditry, kidnapping, murder, cultism, and other heinous crimes have been on the country’s front burner long before EndSARS, their rising incidence will inevitably be linked with the present lull in police activities; and will call to question the relevance of the institution as presently constituted.
It has been argued that in a true federal structure the issue of security rests at different levels; of control vis-a-vis federal, state, local government, county, etc.
It is this inefficiency, inadequacy, and failure of the nation’s federal security architecture that has elicited calls for true federalism which will guarantee state police, as well as community policing which the Federal Government has always shot down.
Hard critics of the Buhari Presidency have expressed worry that the security challenges in the land will worsen if the nation continues on the same path.
They have accused the president of curiously running an endogamy government in which the nation’s security and intelligence institutions are placed in the hands of his kinsmen while the hard-won democratic struggle has been completely undermined by his anti-politics of undermining legitimate processes of state institutions.
Born on July 21, 1956 in Owo, Ondo State, Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) attended Government School, Owo, Aquinas College/ Loyola College, Akure/Ibadan and the University of Ife (Obafemi Awolowo University, Osun State), where he bagged an LLB degree in 1977.
He was once the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Ondo State (1997 – 1999) as well as a former President, Nigerian Bar Association (2008-2009).