In a statement on Wednesday, January 20, 2021, Adegboyega Adefarati, the state Commissioner for Agriculture, and Rural Development, said it was illegal for herdsmen to encroach on the state-owned forest reserves.
In the statement titled, ‘Ondo State Government Forest Reserves Policies And Regulation’, Adefarati said over 50,000 farmers have been registered to engage in various agricultural activities in state’s forest reserves, adding that no herder will be permitted to graze without going through the due registration.
The statement reads; “ 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 Ondo State Government Forest Reserves without permission and graze on the farms, many of which will be destroyed.
“Let me say it again and again that no activity (hunting, planting crops and animal rearing) can be done in Ondo State Forest Conservation without permission. The laws guiding Ondo State Forest are clear and concise on it.”
Earlier, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu had given herdsmen a seven-day ultimatum to vacate the forest reserves in the state.
Akeredolu said criminal elements who have infiltrated the ranks of the herdsmen have turned the forest reserves into dens of kidnappers.
Reacting to the governor’s vacation ultimatum to herdsmen in the state, the Federal Government in a statement on Tuesday, January 19, 2021, said Akeredolu cannot “unilaterally oust thousands of herders who have lived all their lives in the state on account of the infiltration of the forests by criminals”.