Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State has alleged that criminals engaging in kidnapping in the state forest reserves speak Fulfulde.
Fulfulde is the language of the Fulbe people also known as Peul or Fulani, who are found throughout West Africa.
Speaking during an interview with Channels TV on Monday night, the Ondo governor stated that some criminals were using the forest reserves to perpetrate crimes, hence, the quit notice to Fulani herdsmen.
Akeredolu said: “People are kidnapped, they are not kidnapped and taken into a house; most of those who were kidnapped have come back and we have debriefed them, we have been briefed by all of them and we know essentially the group of people involved and that they were taken into our forest reserves.
“Our farmers who operate there are licensed to be there, so anybody who wants to go there must be licensed to be there. If you are not licensed to be there to do a legitimate economic venture, then you are a criminal element, we are going to ask you to leave the place.
“It is the order of the day that every person that is kidnapped is taken to this forest. Then, we must clear that forest of all criminals, we must clear all the criminals no matter who they are.”
Akeredolu said it was the responsibility of the security agencies to fish foreign Fulani herdsmen from neighboring countries who cross into Nigeria to commit crimes.
He said, “How am I to know where they have come from? How did you allow them in, in the first instance. My duty is not to profile those who come into the country but all I know very clearly is that those who are perpetrating this crime speak the same language, they have a common language like some people here in this country. That is where our problem lies.
“Whether they are foreigners or from here, it is a matter for the police, it is a matter for our security (agencies) to go into fully and be able to identify them. But what we have when we debrief those who have been kidnapped is that the language they hear is what matters to them.”
Asked specifically to name the language of the kidnappers, Akeredolu said, “Most of them were speaking Fulfulde and there is no need for us to run away from it. This is a common language that is spoken across the length and breadth particularly in West Africa and North Africa. So, if they come in, how did they come in?”
“Miyetti Allah does not have to defend these people if they are not their members. There is no need to defend them; let us treat them as what they are –criminals and they (Miyetti Allah) themselves should support us in getting them out.”