Four days to the expiration of the seven-day ultimatum Ondo Gov Rotimi Akeredolu gave Fulani herders living inside the state’s forest reserve, the presidency called for caution on both sides.
The Fulani community in the state are wondering where else they will go since the governor insists there must be no one living in the forest, no grazing in the cities, and no night browsin .
In a statement on Tuesday, Garba Shehu, media aide to President Muhammadu Buhari, said the presidency has been keenly monitoring events occurring in Ondo.
He described what is happening as a lack of consistency in messaging which in turn leads to various contradictions
According to him, the presidency urged the state government and the leadership of the Fulani communities to continue their dialogue for a good understanding that will bring to an urgent end the nightmarish security challenges.
“It will be the least expected to unilaterally oust thousands of herders who have lived all their lives in the state on account of the infiltration of the forests by criminals.
“If this were to be the case, rights groups will be right in expressing worries that the action could set off a chain of events which the makers of our constitution foresaw and tried to guard against.
“We want to make it clear that kidnapping, banditry and rustling are crimes, no matter the motive or who is involved. But, to define crime from the nameplates, as a number of commentators have erroneously done- which group they belong to, the language they speak, their geographical location or their faith is atavistic and cruel.
“We need to delink terrorism and crimes from ethnicity, geographical origins and religion—to isolate the criminals who use this interchange of arguments to hinder law enforcement efforts as the only way to deal effectively with them.
He reminded Nigerians that Buhari has never preferred any tribe to another, citing his dispassionate response to IPOB and Fulani, Sokoto and Father Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, and other instances.
Shehu said the Ondo and all states must draw clear lines between the criminals and the law-abiding citizens.