Ahead of Monday’s meeting between South-West governors and the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, groups, including the Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere and its northern counterpart, the Arewa Consultative Forum, on Sunday called for a peaceful resolution of the eviction notice given to herdsmen in Ondo State’s forest reserves.
While the National Publicity Secretary of the ACF, Emmanuel Yawe, in an interview said the group’s focus was peace, Afenifere stated that one side should not regard itself as the master of others in the Nigerian federation.
But the Ondo State Government said it was prepared to begin enforcement of the eviction notice on Monday (today). It, however, assured Nigerians that the exercise would not be violent.
Recall that a seven-day ultimatum, which the state Governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, gave Fulani herdsmen on Monday to vacate the state’s forest reserves, had generated a lot of controversies.
The Presidency faulted the governor, saying he acted outside his powers, but the state government insisted that it would not withdraw the order to quit, which it described as lawful.
It was learnt that as Akeredolu’s seven-day ultimatum expired on Sunday, the South-West governors and the Miyetti Allah would meet on Monday.
It was gathered that the meeting would be held in Akure, Ondo State capital. According to a source, the meeting is meant to find lasting solutions to the incessant killings, kidnapping and crises between herdsmen and farmers in the South-West.
The Ondo State Chairman of MACBAN, Alhaji Bello Garba, who confirmed the development, said the national leadership of the association had arrived in Akure in preparation for the meeting.
He said, “The National Chairman of Miyetti Allah is in town now and I cannot talk about what we want to discuss at the meeting now but I can assure you that we are going to address the press tomorrow (Monday) after the meeting.”
In an interview, Afenifere spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, called for sincerity from both sides, adding one should not regard itself as the master.
He stated, “We are for peace meeting anytime and we advise both parties to be sincere. We must stop this issue of any side behaving as if we are in a master-servant union. We are equal citizens of Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
We’re for peace, we are not beating drums of war – ACF
The ACF said on Sunday it was for peace and for not war.
Apparently referring to its widely reported statement on Saturday, the northern body said it never called for another civil with regard to the ongoing attacks on Fulani communities in Oyo State.
Yawe told one of our correspondents in Kaduna on Sunday that the group was not beating drums for war.
He said, “Our earlier statement on this issue was intended to call the attention of federal and state South-West governments to a trend which may lead us to war if they did not act quickly.
“We did not call for war or beat drums of war as falsely interpreted and given banal headline by a newspaper. But honestly, we are scared of the current trend. Our aim is peace.”
On the meeting between the South-West governor and Miyetti Allah over notice to quit given by the Ondo State Government, the ACF advised the two parties to resolve their differences peacefully within ambits of the law.
The ACF’s spokesman said, “They should resolve their differences peacefully within the ambits of the law. There should be no threats or use of force. Whatever differences they have can be resolved through dialogue and not brute force.”
But the Middle Belt Forum accused the Presidency of promoting insecurity in the way it was handling security matters involving killer herdsmen.
The National Publicity Secretary of MBF, Dr Isuwa Dogo, in an interview with one of correspondents in Jos on Sunday said a situation where government was inclined to negotiating with bandits to stop the killing of Nigerians was counter-productive.
The Middle Belt National spokesman insisted that unless the Federal Government changed its approach in dealing with the bandits, those involved in the killings would continue to act in ways that would continue to raise tensions in the country .
Also, in a statement by its National President, DR. Pogu Bitrus, the MBF warned the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, against arresting Sunday Igboho.
The organisation also supported the notice to quit Akeredolu gave herdsmen. According to Birtus, Akeredolu’s order is meant for unregistered herders occupying the forests and involved in kidnapping and banditry.
Meanwhile, Ondo State Government on Sunday said it was ready to begin the enforcement of the eviction order on Monday as the seven-day ultimatum expired on Sunday.
Speaking to one of our correspondents in Akure, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Security Matter, Alhaji Jimoh Dojumo, said the enforcement would commence on Monday.
He, however, explained that the enforcement would be in such a way that it would not be like a war, but it would strategically carried out.
Dojumo said, “ We have made some preparations ahead the enforcement tomorrow ( Monday), but we don’t want it to be like we are fighting a war. What I will say is that we are strategizing and we would not like to disclose our strategy for security reason.”