Falana backs Akeredolu’s eviction notice to herders, says presidency jeopardising national security
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has said that the order by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu on unregistered herders to vacate Ondo forest was legal.
He accused the Presidency of mismanaging the crisis by rushing to the media to challenge the order, adding that the action of the Presidency polarised the people along ethnic lines to the detriment of national security.
In a statement he released on Sunday, Falana maintained that the order by Akeredolu was in line with Section 42 (1) (e) and (g) of the Forestry Law of Ondo State which stipulated that whoever in any forest reserve, except with the authority in writing of the prescribed officer, digs, cuts, turns or cultivates the soil or makes a farm or plantation; pastures cattle or permits cattle to trespass or trespasses in any part of forest reserves in which trespass shall be prohibited by an order of the governor.
Wondering why the Presidency failed to study the law carefully before condemning Akeredolu’s order Falana said:
“Without addressing the relevant provisions of the Forestry Law or reaching out to Governor Akeredolu, the Presidency rushed to the media to challenge the directive of the Ondo State Government as it might affect undocumented herders operating in the said forests.
Regrettably, such official mismanagement of the crisis has been allowed to polarise the people along ethnic lines to the detriment of national security.”
Meanwhile, Falana said “with respect to the brewing 4082 in Ondo State we call on Governor Akeredolu (SAN) to extend the seven-day ultimatum to allow all farmers and herders operating in the forest reserve to register with the state government without any delay.”
He added, “The Miyetti Allah and similar groups should ensure that all their members who have not registered with the state government do so without any further delay in the overall interest of the security of the people in the state.”
To address the issue of insecurity across the country, Falana urged President Muhammadu Buhari to summon a Nigeria Police Council meeting.
“As a matter of urgency, the Federal Government should mobilise adequate police and other security forces to halt the menace of kidnapping, banditry, terrorism, armed robbery and other violent crimes in the land,” he said.