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No herders will graze in forest reserves without permission – Akeredolu

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  • Afenifere, ACF, PANDEF, NEF disagree over governor’s ultimatum

The Ondo State Government has insisted that herdsmen will not be allowed to operate in Ondo State’s forest reserves without permission.

This is a reaction to the caution by presidency on Tuesday against the seven-day ultimatum the state Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), gave the herders to quit the forest reserves.

Also, a pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere and the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), which supported the governor, clashed with the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) that opposed the decision.

Some senior lawyers have also endorsed Akeredolu’s decision, which they affirmed as constitutional.

In a statement in Akure on Wednesday, the state government said no herdsman would graze on the forest reserves in the state without permission.

The state Commissioner for Agricultural and Rural Development, Adegboyega Adefarati, said in the statement that over 50,000 farmers had been registered to engage in various agricultural activities in the state’s forest reserves.

He insisted that no herder would be permitted to graze without going through the same process.

It said, “We have registered over fifty (50,000) thousands of farmers who engage in different forms of agricultural activities in Ondo State Government Forest Reserves. With this, we regulate their activities and reduce criminality as we interface daily with farmers.

“Love it or leave it, farming is farming, be it crop production or animal husbandry. If any Nigerian irrespective of his/her state of origin desires land for farming in Government Forest Reserves, he/she must apply to Ondo State Ministry of Agriculture and pay the normal fee for the required hectares of land.

“It is illegal for herdsmen to encroach on the Ondo State Government Forest Reserves without permission and graze on the farms, many of which will be destroyed.”

While NEF and ACF called on Akeredolu to rescind the seven-day ultimatum to herdsmen to vacate the forest, PANDEF and Afenifere condemned the reaction of the presidency on the issue.

The ACF and NEF asked the governor to follow the provisions of the constitution in handling the issue, adding that the constitution guarantees freedom of movement of all Nigerians.

NEF, in its statement, described the governor’s action as provocative and unhelpful in the quest to address the security challenges.

A statement signed by NEF’s Director, Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, said if there were criminal elements among the Fulani in Ondo State, appropriate steps should be taken to identify them and deal with them.

NEF stated that the Fulani are not above the laws and must obey all laws and regulations as well as respect the communities in which they live.

It stated, “We call on Governor Akeredolu to rescind his order on the Fulani or clarify his position in the event that he is misunderstood.

“He has a responsibility to protect the rights of all people in Ondo State, including the Fulani, and he will be well advised to engage them towards improving security in the state instead of treating all of them as criminals without rights or protection under the constitution.”

In its reaction, spokesman of the ACF, Emmanuel Yawe, urged the governor to follow the provision of the constitution in addressing the issue.

The ACF said every offence has its own punishment “and our 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.”

But PANDEF called on President Muhammadu Buhari to call his media aide, Malam Garba Shehu, to order over his comments on the one-week ultimatum given to herdsmen.

PANDEF spokesman, Ken Robinson, in a statement, also asked other governors, especially in the South-west to speak out on the matter.

“The callous and barbaric deeds being perpetrated by supposed herdsmen, should not be allowed to continue, anywhere in Nigeria,” it said.

Also reacting, Afenifere advised the five other governors in the South-West to emulate Akeredolu and flush out herdsmen from their respective states.

National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, in a statement, stressed the need for all Yoruba to stand by Akeredolu and other South-west governors in their bid to rid the zone of the excesses of the herdsmen.

“All true-born Yoruba should stand behind Governor Akeredolu in these trying times. He must do all within the law to flush Ondo forests of all criminals. Other governors should emulate their chair and free our land from the Fulani who have surrounded us with the shield of the federal government,” he stated.

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Lagos traditional ruler jailed 15 years

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A Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja has sentenced a traditional ruler to a 15-year jail term for faking his kidnap.

Mutiu Ogundare, who a deposed Baale of Shangisha in the Magodo area of Lagos, was found guilty of the offence by the court.

Justice Hakeem Oshodi sentenced Ogundare having convicted him of the two counts, bordering on breach of peace and fake kidnapping.

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Midnight gunshots, burglars terrify Lagos community

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Abule Taylor community in the Abule Egba area

Residents of Abule Taylor community in the Abule Egba area of Lagos State have lamented incessant gunshots every midnight in the area.

The residents, who spoke to our correspondent, also decried the activities of burglars and miscreants who terrorised people in the community.

A resident, who identified himself simply as Biggie for security reasons, said he realised he was not the only one aware of the situation when he got a call from a neighbour while another shooting was going on.

He said, “A neighbour called my phone one midnight to alert me when he heard the gunshots. I told him that wasn’t the first time such was happening. It has been the case since a man in the neighbourhood was shot dead inside his house while wrestling with armed robbers.”

Another resident, Kola Ajayi, said the neighbourhood also had the same challenge in 2019.

“It was after the community hired vigilantes that the gunshots stopped. Now, the situation is repeating itself,” he added.

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The Chairman, Abule Taylor Community Development Association, Oluwaniyi Emmanuel, confirmed the situation to our correspondent but said “it’s been a while I heard the sound.”

He, however, lamented the activities of miscreants and burglars in the area.

Emmanuel said, “The house opposite the open space where we hold our CDA meetings was recently broken into by burglars who carted away all the property. The principal culprit is from Abiodun Aina Street. He has been disowned by his mother.

“Also, armed robbers do attack and extort those who use Automated Teller Machines in the area. The kiosks where alcoholic drinks are sold in the area are becoming a safe haven for criminals who launch operations from the base.

“We’ve complained to the Lagos State Government, but no serious action was taken. The joint CDA wrote a letter to the Commissioner of Police to deploy officers in the area. However, what the officers were doing was checking vehicle particulars.”

The CDA Assistant Chairman, Okolo Chukwuedo, said, “There was a time a man was killed on the street where the CDA chairman lives. His house was broken into by the people who shot him dead.”

The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, SP Benjamin Hundeyin, could not be reached for comments as of press time.

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Zamfara Killing: MURIC hails media for fair reporting

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Director, Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), Prof Ishaq Lakin Akintola

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has hailed the Nigerian media for properly reporting the killing of Muslims in Zamfara last Friday, September 23, 2022.

MURIC commendation is contained in a press statement signed Sunday by its Director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola.

However, theIslamic human rights organization slammed the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) for falsely claiming that it was only Christians that are being killed in Nigeria.

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The statement reads in part: “Terrorists invaded the Friday prayer mosque in Ruwan Jema town in Bukkuyum Local Government Area of Zamfara State Friday, 23rd September, 2022 killing fifteen (15) and injuring forty eight (48) Muslim worshippers. The armed men hid their guns inside their clothes and pretended to be worshippers. They opened fire on innocent worshippers after entering the mosque.

“MURIC is particularly impressed by the manner in which the killing was reported. Unlike in the past when the killing of Muslims attract little or no media attention and mere casualty figures are given while the religion of the victims are deliberately left out, this time around, the Nigerian press really went to town with stories of the Zamfara killings and most media houses identified the victims as Muslims. This is quite laudable.

“The Media Monitoring Unit (MMU) of MURIC reported the use of the following captions in different media houses to describe the Zamfara killings (https://saharareporters.com/2022/09/24/breaking-scores-worshippers-killed-terrorists-attack-zamfara-mosque-during-jumaathttps://dailypost.ng/2022/09/24/bandits-invade-mosque-kill-15-worshippers-in-zamfara/https://www.thecable.ng/15-worshippers-killed-as-bandits-attack-mosque-in-zamfarahttps://muslimnews.com.ng/2022/09/25/terrorists-attack-zamfara-mosque-during-jumaat-prayer-kill-15-worshippers-turkiye-envoy-mourns/https://www.vanguardngr.com/2022/09/bandits-attack-zamfara-mosque-kill-15-worshippers-2/https://pmnewsnigeria.com/2022/09/24/terrorists-shoot-15-worshippers-dead-in-zamfara-mosque/https://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2022/09/25/terrorists-invade-mosque-kill-15-worshippers-injure-others-in-zamfara/https://punchng.com/bandits-attack-zamfara-mosque-gun-down-worshippers/https://tribuneonlineng.com/gunmen-kill-15-worshippers-in-mosque-in-zamfara/https://www.channelstv.com/2022/09/24/terrorists-attack-zamfara-mosque-kill-at-least-11/https://thenationonlineng.net/bandits-invade-zamfara-mosque-kill-15-worshippers/)

“Even some foreign media like Voice of America (VOA) and Reuters were not left out of the fair reportage (https://www.voanews.com/a/armed-bandits-kill-15-at-mosque-in-northwest-nigeria-residents-say-/6761811.htmlhttps://www.reuters.com/world/africa/armed-bandits-kill-15-mosque-northwest-nigeria-residents-2022-09-24/https://newscentral.africa/fifteen-killed-forty-eight-injured-as-bandits-ransack-zamfara-mosque/) We salute them all.   

“However, a few media houses need to be awake to the sensitivity of the revelation of identities when reporting incidents like this. It may not have been deliberate, but newsmen need to be conscious of the need not only to be fair but also to be seen to have been fair. At least one or two media houses left out the identity of the faith of the victims of the Zamfara killing (https://www.tvcnews.tv/2018/06/police-confirm-fresh-attack-in-zamfara-village-15-killed/https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/headlines/265729-police-confirm-15-killed-in-zamfara-attack.html).

“Both the press and non-governmental organisations should be partners in progress. We cherish the emerging culture of equity, fairness and professionalism in reportage. Both Christians and Muslims deserve fair representation in media reports. This will promote peaceful coexistence among the different faiths.

 “The manner of reporting the Zamfara killings thus revealed the fact that it was Muslims that were killed and injured last Friday. We therefore wonder how the Christian Association of Nigeria arrived at its conclusion that only Christians were being killed in Nigeria and it tried to sell such a dangerous idea to the West, knowing it to be false.

“MURIC is constrained to ask CAN if the 15 worshippers killed and the 48 injured in Zamfara mosque last Friday were also Christians? What of the 200 worshippers killed and the 165 injured in Boko Haram’s bomb attack in Kano Central Mosque on 28th November 2014 (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-30250950)? Were they also Christians? Do Christians attend Jumu’ah prayers in mosques?

“The intention and likely outcome of such vicious lies are not lost on us. America and its Western allies like Britain, France and Germany are likely to impose travel sanctions on Muslim leaders in government, label some Islamic organisations in Nigeria as terrorist groups, place some Islamic scholars on terror watch and begin a process of secret supply of weapons to Christian leaders and Nigerian churches.

“But the greatest benefit would have been a geometric increase in the pouring of monetary support in billions of dollars, euro and British pounds to Christian leaders and groups.

“MURIC condemns the killing of innocent Muslims who had only gone to the mosque for their Jumu’ah prayer last Friday. For the umpteenth time, we reiterate our stand that terrorists and bandits are not part of us. They belong to the evil circle of criminals. They are not part of the Muslim community.

“They are rebellious subjects and enemies of peace. Nobody, therefore, should associate them or their actions with the peace-loving and law-abiding Muslims of Nigeria. In the same vein, it will be naïve for any individual or group within or outside the country to link the actions of terrorists and bandits with the Nigerian government.

“We commiserate with Bello Matawalle, the governor of Zamfara, on the senseless killing of innocent citizens of his state. We pray that Allah will forgive the dead and grant the bereaved families the fortitude to bear the loss and the economic empowerment to take care of dependants left behind by their bread winners. Above all, we pray for peace in Zamfara, the entire North and the rest of Nigeria.”

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