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Akeredolu, Igboho are playing with fire

No one is happy with the deterioration of the security situation in the South West states with the rise in armed robbery, theft, kidnapping, murder…

No one is happy with the deterioration of the security situation in the South West states with the rise in armed robbery, theft, kidnapping, murder and other crimes. Most highways and rural roads in the region have become unsafe in recent times, due to the activities of dare devil criminals who use the region’s forested environment for cover.

Yet, the response to the situation in particular by Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and the demagoguish “youth leader” Sunday Adeyemo, alias Sunday Igboho, has already caused tension in the region and across the country. On Tuesday last week, Akeredolu issued what he called an executive order to pastoralists in Ondo State to vacate its forest reserves in seven days. Speaking at a meeting with leaders the Hausa, Fulani and Igbirra communities, the governor said, “All Forest Reserves in the state are to be vacated by herdsmen within the next seven days with effect from Monday January 18, 2021. The security reports and debriefings from victims of kidnap cases pointed in one direction, traceable to some bad elements masquerading as herdsmen.”

Akeredolu has a right to be worried about the situation, just as his colleagues in many other parts of the country are also worried by the insecurity situation and are taking various measures to tackle it. Still, as a very senior lawyer, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), and a very experienced politician, he must carefully weigh his response lest it be interpreted as ethnic profiling of criminals. If some criminals are masquerading as herdsmen as Akeredolu said, then he must push and cajole the security agencies to separate the chaff from the grain, isolate the criminals and deal with them, rather than unleashing his anger at a whole community.

The dangers of this approach soon became apparent when the so-called youth leader Igboho, secessionist agitator for a so-called Odu’a Republic, issued his own seven-day ultimatum to Fulani pastoralists to leave all the forests in Ibarapa area of Oyo State. Despite efforts by Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde to reign him in, Igboho even undertook a “tour” of some areas to “monitor” his quit order. He was received, it was said, by jubilating, dancing and singing locals. He told them, “The Fulani have gone! We have sent them out of our land and they cannot come back again. Kidnappers cannot rule over us; they can’t take over our land from us. It belongs to us…Buhari should come and evacuate his people from our land. We don’t want them again!”

Anyone who desires peace in Nigeria must rise up and condemn such demagoguish talk by the irresponsible man Igboho who desires the destruction of Nigeria so that he can build his ill-conceived Odu’a Republic from its ashes. He is no different at all from Boko Haram, and we urge the police authorities to visit him with the same wrath for intent to cause genocide and destroy the Federal Republic. His incendiary talk already led to the attack on some Fulani settlements in Oyo State, the killing of some people and the burning of their property.

The insecurity pervading the South West, as it does other parts of the country, is very worrisome. The Federal Government must make it its number one priority to make Nigeria safe for all inhabitants to go about their lawful means of livelihood. To allow demagogues to cash in on the situation through ethnic profiling and so-called quit notices threatens all of us and must not be allowed to stand.

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