The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has warned that no one has the right to expel any Nigerian from any part of the country, adding that the constitution guarantees freedom of movement to all Nigerians within the country’s borders.
The ACF, in apparent response to Rotimi Akeredolu’s seven day quit notice to Fulani herders to vacate the state’s forest reserves, on Saturday asked the Ondo State Governor to follow the provisions of the constitution on the matter.
A statement issued by the National Publicity Secretary of the Forum, Emmanuel Yawe, pointed out that the constitution guarantees freedom of movement to all Nigerians within the country, adding that if the Fulani herdsmen in Ondo have committed any crime, they should be prosecuted and punished as provided for by the laws of the land.
“We make bold to inform Nigerians that nobody has the right to expel a Nigerian from a particular part of Nigeria,” Mr Yawe stated.
According to the statement: “Every offence has its own punishment and the Forum has not seen a law which says a Nigerian should be denied the freedom to settle anywhere and pursue legitimate business according to the law.”
He said the Fulani herdsmen who were at the receiving end of Ondo state’s recent quit order were often victims of banditry themselves.
He added that they were frequently attacked, kidnapped for ransom and their cattle were often rustled.
“They need the protection of the state,” he further said.
“Those of them with proven cases of crime should be prosecuted according to law.
“This is what we expect from Ondo State Governor and former National President of Nigerian Bar Association, Rotimi Akeredolu SAN, to do and not issue an order herding all cattle rearers out of his state,” the Forum maintained.
Governor Akeredolu had ordered all herdsmen to vacate the state’s forest reserves within seven days with effect from Monday, 18th January.
The governor gave the order via his Twitter handle last Monday.
He attributed the causes of kidnapping and other nefarious acts in the state to the activities of some bad elements ‘masquerading as herdsmen’.
“Today we have taken major steps at 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 kidnap cases in Ondo State.
“These unfortunate incidents are 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,” he had tweeted.
The Presidency said Akeredolu’s quit order to herdsmen was inflammatory.