Dapo Abiodun, the governor of Ogun State, has challenged the Federal Government to come up with a concrete action plans on how to rid the nation’s forests of criminals using them as hideouts and launch bases for their activities.
He spoke on Sunday, February 21, 2021, after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He lamented that criminals from neighbouring countries had been taking advantage of the porous nature of the nation’s borders to exploit Nigerians.
He urged the federal government to initiate concrete steps to tighten the nation’s borders to prevent influx of foreigners who engage in criminals activities and flee to their countries afterwards.
The Governor further explained that though there are people who legitimately reside in the forests, they have also become the home and operation bases of criminals stoking ethnic tensions around the country.
He also admonished local northern traditional leaders (Serikis) in his state to keep registers of herders to determine when undesirable strangers infiltrate their ranks.
“We’ve enjoined all our Serikis and our farmers to keep a list of those that live on their farms in registers so that when strangers come in, they will know who are strangers amongst them.
“It is our hope that the federal government will also now look at how to better secure our borders so that people don’t just cross our borders, cause crimes and run away.
“Then these forests that we now see that are places that continue to harbour criminals, we must do something about it.
“We know there are people that live in the forest legitimately, but there are so many people that live in those forests illegitimately. We must definitely do something about those forests.
“These are some of the things that we found to have aided this violence and escalated it and we believe that if the right steps are taken, we can manage the situation and we can live together as brothers and sisters, as we’ve always lived for so many years,” he said.
The governor also blamed the escalation of tensions on what he described as the ethnic profiling of criminals, noting that people find it difficult to distinguish between peaceful herders and criminal cattle rustlers.
“I must say that the Fulani have lived with us in Ogun State for hundreds of years. The Seriki Fulani from that particular corridor speaks better Yoruba than I do because his father was born there.
“Part of the problems we realised we had was ethnic profiling, criminals are criminals and criminals abound everywhere. There are criminals in Yorubaland, there are criminals in Igboland, there are criminals in the Niger Delta, there are criminals in the north and we see that even in the north, in the northeast, in the north-central, we see that there are criminals activities.
“The Governor of Niger State spent a night with me, by the time he got back to Niger State, 50 people had been kidnapped and we cannot be profiling them based on ethnic grounds and be saying, ‘oh the Fulani have kidnapped Fulani or Hausa men in Niger.’
“Our people have had a problem with drawing a line between peaceful Fulani people, who are traditionally herdsmen, and bandits who are cattle rustlers, who will steal cattle, take the cattle to farmlands belonging to people, attack them. Now farmers and indigenes now carry out counter attacks against innocent people that have been living with us.’’
Source: The Nation